More and more people are legitimately desiring to move towards organic/simple church and away from the institutional church.
Unfortunately, there are major snares for those on that journey. Too often, they fall prey to books and blogs on organic/simple church by those who either reject the plenary authority of scripture or outright deny that the Bible is the written word of God.
Although such authors talk a good talk, they typically have no consistent history of actually finding, creating or sustaining in their own lives the kind of local “organic” or “simple” church they are selling to others.
Increasingly, it seems that those who live it seldom sell it, while those who sell it seldom live it.
This makes it very hard to move forward, because there’s a lot of crazy being peddled to the unwary out there in organic land.
Those who elevate their own individual perception of Christ over the authority of scripture – while frequently going so far as to also deny that scripture is the written word of God – often write enticing blogs that resonate with those who are legitimately disappointed with the institutional church.
However, if you look behind such authors you will not find a viable, sustainable local community of believers who actually assemble and function as the Body of Christ in their own home towns. To put it bluntly, the church being sold in their books and blogs does not exist in their own lives
This should be no surprise, because those who presume the autonomy to promote a Jesus of their own perceptions, while rejecting the full authority of scripture, will never see the true Christ – the triumphant, risen King of both heaven and earth who is sovereign head of the church.
Instead, Christ becomes a Jesus created in their own image – who often is appealing but little more than a projection of their own sensibilities, limitations and personal issues (and let’s be honest, we all have them).
I believe in organic, simple church – where God’s people gather to participate together in ministry one to another and to a waiting world.
Here’s the rub, however, for those seeking organic/simple church: When we define Christ by our own perceptions, we will never truly see Him as He is. That’s because the authentic Jesus wants us to have dynamic personal relationship with Him, but in full submission to the authority and discipline of His written word.
Any claim of a relationship with Christ or vision of His Church that is divorced from the plenary authority of His written word is a false claim, involving a false Christ – no matter how appealing He or that vision otherwise may seem.
If we don’t see Him as He is, and be willing to surrender our own perceptions to the authority of His full written word, then we also will never properly understand His metaphorical Body here on earth – i.e., the church. It too becomes a projection of our own selves – our own sensibilities, limitations and personal issues.
Simple church? It simply doesn’t work apart from both a vibrant relationship with the Living Word, in submission to the full authority and discipline of His written word.
Christ and His Kingdom are not a smorgasbord. We can’t pick and choose based on our own internal perceptions.
That’s why God chose to give us not only Himself, but also His authoritative external written word – including not just the stuff we instinctively like (e.g., His grace and mercy), but also the stuff we don’t always like (e.g., His propositional truths, moral imperatives and explicit commands).
Organic and Simple Church Fraud
Those who peddle their concept of the Living Word, while dismissing the plenary authority of His written word – like “organic church” authors Frank Viola, Jon Zens, Milt Rodriquez, Bart Breen, Christopher Kirk, André van der Merwe, Ross Rohde and others (often found over at House2House Magazine) – are good at selling their own grand concepts of the church and “deeper life” revelations.
Often, they’ve learned how to feed off the disappointments of others while projecting themselves as experts in things that are not actually happening in their own lives.
By and large, their personal histories are full of fraudulent organic church dead ends – both theologically and in actual practice.
In fact, I challenge you to find any evidence of them being part of a local church in their own home town that looks anything like what you read in their books or blogs.
We can do better. In fact, we must do better if we are to reach a waiting world with the full person, power and authority of Christ – through His authentic, functional Body here on earth as it confidently goes and proclaims His Kingdom to all humanity and all spheres of life.
Be discerning – both for yourself and others who may be watching your journey.
Look for those who are living it, rather than selling it – because organic/simple church is good, but organic/simple church fraud is not.
For more on this, see “Organic Dead Ends” and “Finding Ekklesia“.
~ Jim Wright