Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Human Hijacking of "Organic"

What is it in our human nature that thinks that we can take something God initiates and make it 'better' and mold it into our own style and paradigms ? And after doing so, claim it was never God after all because of its ineffectiveness?

Time and time again, God grabs our attention with an incredible invasion of our time and space with something that is obviously HIM. His fingerprints show a clearly divine, supernatural, and completely Scriptural initiative.
It doesn't take long before we take what He has begun and try to do it better.
To do it our way, 'the new and improved' marketable and human version. Taking control seems inevitable.
Remember the old Frank Sinatra song; "I'll do it myyyyyyy way!"?
Why do we end up making this same mistake and quenching, or at least watering down, what God is doing time and time again? Why aren't we learning from our past history?

Unfortunately, this is our human nature from the beginning of time, so I may be fighting a losing battle in even writing about it. But I am compelled to. I just can't sit by and see it happen in the simple, organic, missional movement without using my voice, and any influence I may have, to stay the trend of the human hijacking of the move of God.

I've been so privileged to have seen some of the most beautiful areas on earth.
Places of creation that take your breath away in their beauty, vastness, power and impact. The Rain Forest, coastlines, canyons, endless mountains, rich river valley's, forests of vast diversity and splendor, incredible rock creations and colors, rolling prairies, colorful deserts, peaceful meadows...I could go on and on.
I never tire from seeing the intricate beauty and great creativity of God in His creation. It is evident that He is truly the Master Artist!
Seeing His Hand in creation humbles me, exhilarates me, restores me, and awes me. I glorify God for His power, love and attention to details - all for our benefit and His expression of Himself.

I glorify God because it is obvious that it is His creation and His alone! No one could even come close to duplicating what He has already done.

I've also been to many places in the world that are considered to be the greatest creations of humans hands too. Renown cities for their architectural fame and claims to beauty, art and history. Palaces, gardens, cathedrals, art museums, bridges, historical ruins, ports, plazas, monuments, and so many wonders of human ability, talent, knowledge and effort. Great works of human hands, and albeit inspiring, they are in a far limited sense when compared to Gods creations.

The very best humans can offer, is far inferior to the least of God's creation. Like someone once said; "the good is the enemy of the best"!

Humans want to imprint themselves into God's work. We make improvements and adjustments for better "fit". We water it down to lukewarm. We enhance and organize. We put Spirit led initiatives into a system so we don't have to be wondering "what's going to happen today Lord?" We make it strategic and marketable for the masses. We take pride in the work of our hands and minds.

I remember seeing Mount Rushmore for the first time. My exclamation stunned our tour guide when I exclaimed; "Oh, they wrecked that beautiful mountain!" I couldn't understand how anyone could think that those carved human faces enhanced the mountain cliffs that they were carved from!

Being dependent upon Him daily for instructions and guidance takes a lot of time and effort. We have to slow down, listen and often wait.
It's easier, quicker and far more ego flattering, if we make our own way. We take what He started, make the adjustments we think it needs for consistent use and value and put it into action. We then feel good about our imprinting. We like the "new and improved" version because we see ourselves in it. And we like other people to see us in it too.
We are carving our own faces into a smaller version of Mount Rushmore.

When God brings in a manifestation of His will and Presence, it is like a bomb goes off. Chaos! Everything is shaken up. Man made systems of dead works, religion, and gnostic doctrines are exploded into fragments. The status quo is challenged, the equilibrium of a nice comfortable religion is thrown into upheaval, and blinders are removed. God steps in to claim once again; His Purpose, His Plan, His People, His Church.

We have seen this in the current move of God. The organic, simple, missional movement has shaken the status quo of "doing church". It has confronted much of the religious systems that have existed for years.

As the organic, simple, missional movement becomes more known and widely practiced, it inevitably becomes imprinted with human hands. In the process it begins to loose much of what was originally a part of it. How presumptuous and prideful that we as humans think we can always make improvements on God, but we do. The result is the we are far from the original when we do this. We delude ourselves into thinking we're not. Things not even remotely "organic", "simple" or "missional" are being touted as such, and they are far from it! You can read article after article with claims of being organic that are nothing but "same ole, same ole".

Neil Cole talks about this in his books, (Organic Church, Organic Leadership) and in the Greenhouse Training that CMA offers ( He uses the example that when we make a copy, then copy the copy, and so forth, soon the copy is so diluted that the original is completely lost. We are left with a distorted, and vague imitation of the original. We have people now doing this to the organic, simple, movement. They are taking the original, and making copies of copies and calling it organic, simple, missional when it has very little of the original in it. Instead, it has become a revised and humanized version. It's full of imprinting.

One of the greatest aspects of this present move of God, is that it works on the premise that everyone can hear God and do what He says (simple), that He has something to say and wants us to respond (organic), and everyone is invited to share in it if they want (missional).

It believes that God actually can instruct the average Joe/Jane Christian in "the way he should go" that will make an impact of eternal significance. That each person is valuable to "the plans and purposes of God", regardless of ordination and professionality. That we can, and are expected, to walk like Jesus when "He did only that which He saw the Father doing. "

Leadership is seen as serving, self-sacrificing parents who want more for their "kids" than they want for themselves. Leadership that seeks to encourage (you), release (you), empower (you) and launch (you) rather than follow (me), (my) vision, (my) plan for your life, support (me and my). Leadership that really believes in and lives out; "that you may increase" and "I decrease". Church is viewed and participated in as "family", relationally sharing life together, living in natural rhythms and flows - not just having meetings and "doing stuff" together like a work crew.

This is a life and faith of complete dependency upon God as "the author and perfecter of our faith." "Of growing up into all aspects of Him".
Not dependency upon a leader, a church, an organization, a system or institution.
It is a movement of the whole Body of Christ growing into maturity and being available for impact. Each person strategic.

Yup, you and you alone are responsible to read the Bible for yourself, to seek God for understanding and obey what it says. You are responsible to pray and develop intimacy with God on your own. To recognize His Voice above all others because it is so familiar to you. That's maturity. It is a movement of each of us fulfilling our design and purpose in Christ.

"until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13), and "we are to grow up in all aspects into Him" (vs 15.)

Just like snowflakes and grains of sand - no two are exactly alike in their design and formation, and yet in their coming together as one, they seem like one and the same! And in their mass, they are formidable! Believe me, living in Minnesota, one learns the impact of one flake of snow joined with others! It's called a blizzard, and that's impact!!

We have another opportunity in these days to be teachable and trainable by The Spirit so we can fully experience and participate in this incredible time in history. We have choices to make. Will we allow the Spirit free "artistic creation" in our lives, or resort to the comforts of doing it ourselves? Will we choose to take responsibility and mature in Christ, or remain dependent children tossed around? What will we do?

Lord help us!


  1. What was the original "Organic" and who crowned it so? I have read many opinions and have seen many variations on the theme. I have never seen an "Organic Manifesto," and I hope I don't. (Getting tired of manifestos for everything)

    On the other hand, I would have to agree with most of what was said here while simultaneously admitting that I am still working out my ecclesiology. What I am certain of, is that I will not be defined by what I am against and I hope that "Organic" folks keep up the momentum by consistently and persistently define the term by what they are for.

    To be fair though, I think the term is in flux. It is growing organically in it's scope and application. Humans, after all, are organic as well.

    As to making copies of copies, isn't that what a movement is about? In order for a movement to move, it has to be duplicatable. It should be reproducible. The movement should evolve and adapt and perhaps even mutate like organic things do.

    As with all the latest hip terminology there will always be those who try to capitalize either monetarily or ideologically. What ever happened to being Biblical? Oh wait, that too is being morphed to suit agendas.

    One Popular "Organic" author confines the definition of "Biblical" to practice at the expense of proposition.

    I am ranting and I will cease, but I would love to see what others have to say.

  2. This is a good word, Katie. It seems to me that the enemy is winning. Division from within. It's an old, old tactic, and yet still so effective. Our pride is so easily manipulated, isn't it? He would love us to spend as much time as possible focused on everything BUT actually introducing people to Jesus. I personally think internal arguments are his favorite device.

    Having said that...
    I agree that organic doesn't mean a copy. No two plant seeds are exactly the same. They may grow similarly or even look almost identical, but they are not. However, given the right combination of vitamins from the soil, water and sunlight, they will produce. There are even many varieties of one plant type such as wheat, and all naturally reproduce, not replicas, but NEW stalks of wheat. This is the concept of organic church and making disciples.

  3. Love it . . . just leaving ministry as a paid pastor in the institutional church after 34 years of same old same old. So much of what ministry was about for those years looked like success but in the end, there was an end . . . no significant amount of lasting, self-perpetuating contagious life transformation . . . so disappointing. So we are making the break and trusting God - not going to continue to take a salary for service rendered. If God doesn't come through . . . I'm okay with whatever. I love what lies ahead in the organic future and don't ever want it to be tainted by the institutional past. Please Lord . . . protect us from a sense of self-importance . . . help us to remember that all depends on You.

  4. Finding this post is quite serendipitous. The notion of the 'organic church' being hijacked is one that has been resonating with me an no doubt others. Your perception is well put; it is a good word.

    I am much apart of the Body in a simple expression and still processing a lot of what i am seeing. I am doing much of this is thinking out loud.

    I visited an 'emergent' community site joined about 5 years back to update my profile and have a look around. There was a lot more about the principles of getting Jesus' principles down and the folks that cleverly presented them; than Him.

    There were good and valuable things to take away but the subtle shift towards a more man-centric presentation of what God is doing in their worlds.

    This all sounds ok, but it does take on the form of rhetoric and monologue that you can buy into and purchase as well.

    Your reminder that Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing and for us to do likewise grips me as well. He asked me what i was seeing from Him this morning as i stumbled headlong into the day. Of course i had to stop and admit nothing...then we started to talk; me listening mostly.

    Your word to live "as "family", relationally sharing life together, living in natural rhythms and flows" is as much as anyone could add without making it complicated and allowing more of us to get on our day than Him.

    This is a beautiful thing!

  5. I see lots of good insight here, Katie. The first thing that comes to mind is what you say about man made... funny how the oceans, mountains, nature itself always remains. Yet the great wonders created by human hands always crumble. What I see going on with Organic is what I saw with my greatly valued Vineyard world (MY valued world, not His). It was simple, empowered, and godly. Then, it became same old, same old with 100's of copies and varieties.

    Ramblings aside...

    I think what you speak above does matter. Keep in mind that the sadducees and pharisees were doing same old, same old. Jesus came and spoke as one voice, which became a few, then many. Even there, things got copied and watered down over time. But always God used one voice to reignite the fire again and again as it was needed. Fortunately those "one voices" were in tune to God's voice, and those did what He said. The stood up for the "organic". The world will be a better place because you hear the words of God, and because you follow despite what others may say or think. You may be in a small number through history, but wow... you will always have good company in the world to come.

  6. Very good stories~~ Thanks for ur sharing~~!! ........................................

  7. I have been a part of home churches for over 35 years now. I don't know how this intersects with the concept of organic. The one concept that I find similar is that in the home church you are not bound to the traditional refuse or fertilizers that most mainline churches impose on the Word of God. In the home church you can let the scriptures speak more loudly for themselves and not have myths or renamed pagan practices endorsed from the fourth century AD forward to dilute the message of the gospel. The Word of God should be the source of the truths adhered to by the church, not Traditional teachings that are not in the scriptures.
    The Word of God says it contains and instructs us in all things that pertain to life and godliness. So I say if we want to learn to live and be godly, that is have God in us reconciling the world to Himself as He was in Christ then we need to pare away the concepts that are not stated in the scriptures and hold to those that are plainly stated.
    Let us act on what the Scriptures really say is the gospel not on commercial traditions.

  8. There is no substitute for the Word of God, and it's ability to sustain, guide, train and equip us for everything and in every way. It is unfortunate that the Body of Christ always seems to prefer the teachings of "men" which does little for us than titillate the mind, and then leads to systems of bondage and religion.
    I have seen this in organized church and house church unfortunately!

    Organic concepts have less to do with the "forms" of living life together in Christ (whether you meet in buildings, homes, third places, work places, etc.) and more to do with living the Word together in simplicity, honesty, relationally - allowing God to initiate, direct and supply what only He can....Life!

    I think that may be more difficult to do in a traditional church setting for sure, and personally I have not seen much success of that, if any.
    But I have seen that it can also be a challenge in the house church...thus the saying "honey I shrunk the church" (same issues - just smaller context). To me it comes down to authorship. If He is really the Author - then let Him direct and guide the story - however He chooses. And we know that will always be in accordance with His Word - since He Himself IS THE WORD!

    Thanks for your thoughts and comments R2Daysman! Keep them coming!

    Will I see you at the House2House conference in Dallas over Labor Day?