Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Organic Church

Neil Cole has put a lot of what I've been thinking about church into printed format in his most recent work. It's full of great material to challenge the status quo "anesthetizing church" to stop euthanizing the passions and desires of Christ followers in North America.

The mission statement for his church planting endeavor states, "let's lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple."

Reggie McNeal has identified that "a growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason...they haven't lost their faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith." I meet people like that quite regularly. They've either been hammered by the church or anesthetized to be like "dead men walking", neither knowing or experiencing the fullness of life that Jesus speaks of in the Bible.

Reminds me of a sign in the hallway of the Children's Ministry of a church I visited that said, "Walk, don't run in God's house." And we wonder why teenagers leave the church when they're given the opportunity?

Cole's idea is to bring the church to people instead of dragging them to the church building. "If you want to win the world to Christ, you are going to have to sit in the smoking section." Otherwise if you ask them to butt out to hear the gospel they will only be thinking one thing: "When can I get another cigarette?"

That's one of the reasons I love the Church Under The Bridge (see the January 14 post). And Community of Hope. As Walter Moberly said to Christ followers, "If one-tenth of what you believe is true, you ought to be ten times as excited as you are." I love our church and I'm excited about where God is taking us.

To put it into Rob Bell's words, "We'd better smoke what we're selling." Otherwise we're inconsequential at best, and destructive at worst, holding up the passionate and creative movements of God to bring the love of Jesus to a lost and hurting world.

More and more people are awake to spiritual reality and are interested in Jesus but they just don't like His wife, the church. "We often tell people that they must take the bitter pill of "church" if they want to hear about Jesus. Most would rather die of the disease than consume that medicine!"

I can really identify with the journey Cole found himself on leading up to the writing of the book. He tells of a time of difficulty that brought him "a new sense of call to bring the hope of Christ to people who are broken, lost, and not wanting to live anymore." I almost thought that he'd been reading my journal from the past couple of years!

I fully believe that God has called the Neil Cole's and others like us at CoHo to help restore a sense of what the kingdom of God is all about. Follow Jesus wherever He leads and renew the passion...


Anonymous bob stenhouse said...

Hi Stew,
I just had some time to read the blogs of the last couple of weeks after being very busy. this one really struck me and thank you for your heart. I agree with you about our mission and how we have decided to do church. Kids playing hide and seek in the pews, indoor football games, hacky-sack ministry, and real sharing of stories are what we are about and it is showing. I'm honored to be on this journey with you.

7:14 PM  

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