It started with a conversation on Bill Kinnon’s blog…
Frankly, no you can’t. Because (A) people tend to organize, and even organisms are organized in and of themselves, and (B) implying that organism is a binary opposition to organization would require ignoring chunks of the New Testament.
Well, Ben Witherington agrees with you Robby. He said basically the same thing in his review of The Shack today.
I agree with your point, but also believe that we need to discover more organic and relational forms of leadership and organizational structures. The positional structure of leadership within the church has not been healthy for the life of the body.
How about organic organization vs. corporate institution? –
(My response at Bill’s blog)
This is the beagle I’ve been following for the last couple of days…
And while no one would deny it’s very much about living and loving relationships, the truth of the matter is that it is a false dichotomy to separate Jesus from religion, or for that matter organism from organization.
Without structure, order and organization it could not ever be even a viable living thing. This is in fact true of all organisms, and that includes the church, if one wants to call it an organism. That doesn’t mean that human beings aren’t capable of over-institutionalzing things, or ossifying some of the structures, but to pit organism over against organization, with one seen as living and the other dead, one God-given, and the other man-made is absolutely a false dichotomy when it comes to the church.
I am not ready to say there is no place for Christian institutions…I believe the church is to be relationally driven, i.e., relationships with God, with one another, with those needing faith, and with creation.
Structures are needed, but they must be simple, reproducible and internal rather than external. Every living thing is made up of structure and systems.
For me the question is about the right kind of living structure, or medium, appropriate to the message of the apostolic church. And this will look significantly different to what we have come to know as the top-down, institutional/governance form of church—which is by far and away the predominant structural mode of the church in the West.
In other words we need to move away from institutional forms of organization and recover a movement ethos if we are going to become truly missional.
The church is the bride of Christ. Its union with him is designed for reproduction, the growth of the kingdom. Jesus did not teach his disciples to pray, “Thy church come.” The kingdom is the destination. In its institutional existence the church abandoned its real identity and reason for existence.
We do not need to be mistaken about this: if the church refuses its missional assignment, God will do it another way…God is pulling end runs around the institutional North American church to get to people in the streets. God is still inviting us to join him on mission, but it is the invitation to be part of a movement, not a religious club.”
(via Len Hjalmarsen)
The church is not the destination, but it is a connector… to get people where they really want to go – which is ‘life’. That’s what Jesus came to give us. He didn’t say he came to give us ‘church’… but LIFE. The destination is the kingdom, because that’s where life is; that’s where the king is.
(via Dan Horwedel)
From the Tangible Kingdom…
Church gatherings were never the intended goal; they were the natural result of people finding others who were living their alternative Kingdom story. The goal of our missional life is not to grow churches. The goal of church is to grow missionaries. The goal of the gospel is not to get people to church. The result of the gospel is that people will find each other and gather because of the deep meaning of a common experience.
This is why we encourage church planters not to start the church by launching a church service. Instead, we advocate that they launch people and add the gatherings as needed. When people are bent on mission first, the gathering takes on different purposes. We have found that when the primary values are outward mission and incarnational life, the gathering becomes more about connecting people, corporate storytelling, vision casting, and celebration.
These are some thoughts I want to keep in mind as I re-read Reimagining Church, which has a strong emphasis on the organic nature of church.
*Update: There is a good discussion in the comments of Alan’s post. Also a somewhat related post by Michael Spencer, What Will It Be For The Institution? Blind Loyalty or Naive Criticism?