For anyone stumbling across this blog for the first time, the original idea of it was to post a group of two minute commentaries about simple worship of Jesus, with most of the commentaries based on the points with regard to this subject made by George Barna and Frank Viola in their book, Pagan Christianity and Wolfgang Simson in his 15 Theses for the Re-Incarnation of Church.Those appear in a group of blogs I posted in December, 2010.They were written for radio, but so far, I have not had the money to broadcast them.Additionally, either one minute or five minutes are time frames more amenable to stations in my area, so I am rewriting some of the major thoughts expressed in the December postings to fit both the smaller and larger time frame.What is below is part of this project.
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute. What is meant by “organic church”? When we speak of organic gardening, we mean food grown without man-made chemicals or genetic engineering.Organic healing deals with the use of natural products, as opposed to man-made substances. Early in the 20th century, former pastor T. Austin-Sparks coined the term “organic expression of church” or “organic church.”One statement he made on this idea is (and I quote):
“God’s way and law of fullness is that organic life.In the Divine order, life produces its own organism, whether it be vegetable, animal, human, or spiritual.This means that everything comes from the inside.Function, order, and fruit issue from this law of life within.It was solely on this principle that what we have in the New Testament came into being.” (unquote)
The Koine Greek word “ekklesia” that is translated “church” in our English Bibles was a secular word, meaning close to our current word “group” or “town meeting.”An example of that is that it also was used by Luke in Acts 19 to describe the mob that protested the work of Paul in Ephasus.There was not only no religious connotation to it, but also no connotation to a formal organization, official human leadership structures, or any ritual as a right way to worship.We are told the early church of believers in Jesus met daily, went from house to house, and cared for others spontaneously.
Therefore, organic church speaks of church as it was lived in the days of the writing of the New Testament, as opposed to adding man-made organizations, programs, and methods.This, so far in history, seems to be most easily done when there is such overt opposition by a government or social group that we believers cannot add organizations, programs, and methods, but that does not necessarily have to be the case.
We see in the Gospels that some came to believe on Jesus while He walked the earth. After the Holy Spirit came upon the early believers in Acts chapter 2, many others came to faith in Him.They became groups of people small enough to know each other, and they met regularly to worship Him and build up each other.By the way they lived their lives to honor Jesus and care for those around them, others came to faith in Jesus. The churches, that is, these informal groups, grew and reproduced into more groups.Miracles naturally happened. Some believers felt compelled to take the message to other cultures.Status quo groups such as the government and Judaism opposed the church, but the church grew in spite of it, and possibly even because of it, because standing for truth in the face of overwhelming opposition, without a monetary or political motive will draw attention because of the seeming courage involved.Due to the opposition, even though the surrounding people respected the believers, only those who truly came to believe on Jesus joined the church.Jesus, not any human, was necessary to lead the church’s worship,which was understood to be how one lived one’s life each moment, not just how one interacted to a religious ritual.
With no organization, there was no need to collect money except when there was an evident need, such as the church in Jerusalem, which had an unusually high number of elderly persons because many elderly Jews who lived outside Israel wished to die in the city, and when they came, some heard the message and believed.
The church grew naturally.There was no need for a professional class of ritualists, unlike anything the world had seen.When the opposition to the church drove believers out of cities, such as the Romans did to the population of Jerusalem in 70 and 130 AD, they wound up scattering and spreading the message of Jesus in all directions, like seeds in the wind.The church being transient was not a problem, but an opportunity.
You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 757-735-xxxx.To read what I just said, I have it on my blog, tevyebird.blogspot.com, on the blog dated July 28, 2011. You can find out more about simple forms of worship in this area at www.hrscn.org.
There is someone working on posting the complete works of T. Austin-Sparks on the internet at www.austin-sparks.net.
John Zens makes the observation ekklesia meaning “town meeting” in his book, The Pastor Has No Clothes.
Historical footnotes to many facts that are behind statements made here can be found in George Barna and Frank Viola, Pagan Christianity.