I love the work that Neil Cole is doing—and Alan Hirsch (The Forgotten Ways), Bob Roberts (Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World), Frank Viola (Finding Organic Church), and many, many others.

In one form or another, they are champions of "organic church." The term is fluid, but it contains at least three ingredients: Frustration with the-church-as-we-know-it, a focus on people (vs. programs) and mission (vs. institutional maintenance), and a vision to transform the world.

As Neil Cole put it in his book Organic Church, "It is not enough to fill our churches; we must transform our world." He puts it similarly in his latest effort, Church 3.0. The book is ostensibly about how to shift from program-driven and clergy-led institutions to churches that are "relational, simple, intimate, and viral." Still, says Cole, "Changing the church is not the idea of this book … . The only reason to shift from Church 2.0 to Church 3.0 is to change the world."

I love the passion. And the prophetic word to institutionalism (believe me, I know the evils of institutionalism: I'm an Anglican!). And the vision to make Christ's love and grace known to the four corners of the planet.

What I worry about is the coming crash of organic church. And after that, I worry about the energetic men and women at the forefront of the movement. Will they become embittered and abandon the church, and maybe their God?

On not kidding ourselves

That the organic church movement will crash, I have no doubt. Every renewal movement in church history has either derailed immediately or produced temporary renewal at the expense of long-term unintended consequences. Church historians tells us that in 11th- and 12th-century Europe, churches ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
Previous SoulWork Columns:
May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueBearing Burdens After Obamacare
Bearing Burdens After Obamacare Subscriber Access Only
The future of Christian health care sharing.
RecommendedThe Real History of the Crusades
The Real History of the CrusadesSubscriber Access Only
A series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics? Think again.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickThe Church's Three-Part Harmony
The Church's Three-Part Harmony
Why evangelical, sacramental, and Pentecostal Christians belong together in one body.
Christianity Today
Long Live Organic Church!
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.