Friday, July 25, 2008

An Organic Church Meeting

The following is an excerpt from Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. Towards the end of the book there is a Q & A section. Someone asked what an organic home church meeting might look like; this is how it is described by Viola and Barna in the book:

In organic church life, the meetings look different every week. While the brothers and sisters in an organic church may prayerfully plan the focus of their own meetings (for instance, they might set aside a month for the body to concentrate on Ephesians 1), they do not plan on a specific order of worship. Instead, everyone is free to function, share, participate, and minister spiritually during gatherings, so the creativity expressed in them is endless.

Participants do not know who will stand up and share next nor what they will share. There might be skits; there might be poems read; there might be new songs introduced and sung; there might be exhortations, testimonies, short teachings, revelations, and prophetic words. Because everyone is involved and people contribute spontaneously, boredom is not a problem. The most meaningful meetings are generally those in which everyone participates and functions.

Jesus Christ is the center of the meeting. He is glorified through the songs, the lyrics, the prayers, the ministry, and the sharing. The meeting is completely open for the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ through each member as he sees fit. In the words of 1 Corinthians 14:26, “every one of you” contributes something of Christ to the gathering. In organic church life, the corporate church meeting is an explosive outflow of what the Lord revealed of Himself to each member during the week.

(Pagan Christianity, page 261)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Organic Home Church

[I originally wrote this article describing Organic Home Church life hoping to have it published in a local town magazine. However, the magazine didn’t want to offend anyone in the community over matters of faith, especially since they mainly publish the magazine for advertising purposes. So I’m posting it on this blog and also on our other website.]

The original definition of the Greek word used for “church” (ekklesia) in the Bible’s New Testament simply means a group of people “called out” for an assembly or meeting. In its New Testament context, “church” does not in any way imply a particular building of a particular denomination standing in any particular place. It is simply a group of people called out to follow Christ and doing so together.

There is a movement taking place around the world where Christians are seeking to experience the same kind of Christ-life, relational community, and faith-filled worship as is described of the early Christians in the New Testament. Christians are being called out of the mainstream institutional church setting and called into organic church life. The House Church Resource website states that currently there are approximately five million adult Christians meeting in home churches. So what is this organic home church life that draws the participation of so many?

Organic home church life is defined by people that have been called out to be Christ-followers coming together to share their life and faith. They become family to each other providing care, support, and encouragement in the joys and struggles of daily life. Their unity is based on their love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ with their eyes focused on His life, example, and teachings. It is a church which is birthed and which flourishes by the experiences and the life of Christ within the people. However, it is not for everyone since it is a church life of active participation and intimate fellowship.

Church planter and writer, Frank Viola, defines organic church as “a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of being constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. Put another way, organic church life is the experience of the Body of Christ.

Organic home church meetings are informal and very similar to family gatherings. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate and share how God is working in their lives with testimonies, songs, prayers, and revelations as described in 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Colossians 3:16. The members function and participate as a whole instead of any one individual having the major focus. The meetings are not planned or coordinated to follow any one particular pattern every time. The Holy Spirit of God is allowed to guide each meeting and the members follow that guidance.

If this is the kind of church life that you have been looking for you can get further information and check out various other resources at Discovering God Ministries and click on the “Ekklesia” link.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Plague of Gossip

Through an email I just received from the House Church Resource website, I was given the link to an awesome article on gossip and slander in the body of Christ.

Having been a victim of both slander and gossip a painful too many times in my life has caused me to certainly be very careful that I don't purposely or even accidentally do the same thing to someone else.

Please read the article for yourself; whether Christ is your Lord or not, I believe it is of UTMOST importance for healthy relationships.

"Have You Heard...?" The Plague of Gossip in the Body of Christ

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Some Statements and Quotes…

Recently I’ve been led to read another worthwhile book, The End of Religion, by Bruxy Cavey. I haven’t gotten very far into the book, but already there are various things he says which I really like and wholeheartedly agree with.

On page 40, Cavey makes the following statement:

Sometimes people who know I am a Christ-follower ask me if I think all religions lead to God. I suppose they are waiting to see if I argue that only the Christian religion is the way to God or if I will give the open-minded answer that all religions lead to God. Instead I choose a third alternative. I tell them that I do not believe all religions lead to God because no religion leads to God. Religion does not lead people to God any more than cups quench your thirst.

Amen, Cavey!! CHRIST, not the religion of Christianity, IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE of and to God.

He has some other quotes at the beginning of his chapters that I also thought worth mentioning which are great food for thought:

Act just once in such a manner that your action expresses that you fear God alone and man not at all--you will immediately in some measure cause a scandal." (Soren Kierkegaard)

"I often wonder if religion is the enemy of God. It's almost like religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building." (Bono)
"The revelation of God is the abolition of religion." (Karl Barth)

(I can thoroughly relate with Kierkegaard’s statement from first-hand experience! Yikes!)

Check the book out for yourself and see what you think…

Reimagining Church

Wow! I am so excited to get Present Testimony Ministry’s July newsletter in my inbox this morning. The newsletter speaks of Frank Viola’s newly released book on organic church life called Reimagining Church. It is the follow up to Pagan Christianity. You can check it all out for yourself; just click on the links. I am ordering our copies today! At this time you can only order the book from their direct website; it is not available in bookstores until August.