What is an organic church?

Today the word "organic church" has come to mean many different things. As with most terms simply give it time and you will then have to say what you mean when you use the term. The term "organic church" is not a new term. It was Originally coined by T. Austin-Sparks who ministered in the 1920s until his passing in 1971. However, the term today has taken on many different meanings.

Acts 1:8 says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

The church is people not places, programs, or performances. But it is not just any people. It is the people of God empowered by the Spirit of God, on the mission of God in their world. Simply stated the church is, "empowered people on mission". This is helpful to understand when we talk about "Church" planting. Church planting then is the planting of Jesus' people in a missional context. We can plant the church in a house in a neighborhood, in a coffee shop down the road, in a business break room, or in a nursing home. This then is the "natural" or "organic" expression of the church. The people of God on the mission of God in the world around them naturally living out in community what Jesus is doing in them.

Is this a part of the emergent church?

No - next question please!

What is the difference between an organic church and a small group ministry?

An organic church functions in its fullest sense as the church independent from any outside control. Most small group ministries are a dependent ministry of the "real church".

How do you maintain doctrinal integrity?

The best way to maintain doctrinal integrity is to pass it on relationally. Academics and training are important but they in and of themselves do not maintain doctrinal integrity and yet that is what we have tended to depend upon. Many today falsely believe that their academic institutions, hierarchical control and better trained preachers, is sufficient to maintain doctrinal integrity. The proof is in the puddin. The reality is that in denominational structures you will find a broad range of doctrinal heresy and doctrinal variance amongst the local churches. We believe that there must be a high relational component to passing on doctrinal DNA. The core value of relational discipleship, combined with high trust and heart relationship with our district leaders is a key to maintaining doctrinal integrity within a denominational network. Neil Cole puts it this way, "What we need is not better trained preachers in the pulpit but better trained people in the pews." And our error is to believe that better trained preachers automatically produce better trained people.

How do you measure success?

Success is measured against the mission. We believe that success will be seen in everyday life as participants demonstrate a passionate love for God and a practical love for others everywhere they go. Success will also mean that disciples are making disciples and all are participating in the mission and vision - not just the leadership. Success will not be measured by how many people sit in a building or even a house, but more by the multiplication of disciples making disciples and churches planting churches.

What is a Life Transformation Group (LTG)?

A Life Transformation Group is a simple way to release the most essential elements of a vital spiritual walk to people who need Jesus. This tool empowers the common Christian to accomplish the uncommon work of reproducing spiritual disciples who can in turn reproduce others. An LTG is made up of two or three people, all of the same gender, who meet weekly for personal accountability for their spiritual growth and development. It is recommended that a group not grow past three but rather multiply into two groups. LTGs focus on three simple and reproducible components, 1) high consumption of Scripture in context, 2) discussion and help with personal character and struggles in live, and 3) prayer and outreach to those who need God in their lives. For more on LTGs visit Church Multiplication Associates

What about my kids?

One of the most commonly asked questions is about children. We believe that family matters and children and youth are a vital part of community life. We believe that the best place for a child’s spiritual formation to develop is in their home with their parents. Therefore, we see it as the responsibility of each community to equip parents to raise Godly children. We also believe that children learn through what they observe others doing. Therefore, their involvement in community life and ministry is vital. We also recommend each missional community to have a special time with the children during their weekly gathering. This is primarily an issue when we try to cram life into an hour "Bible Study". There will be times when a community may want to do some things as adults and will individually or together make arrangements for child care and at other times the activities might revolve around the kids. Each community will grow together as a family.

We encourage each community to allow enough time in their weekly gathering to minister to the entire family.

Do the participants tithe?

We believe that the stewardship of God’s resources is critical for the life of the believer and the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Each participant is encouraged to invest in God’s kingdom. We encourage tithing, however, are more interested in participants being generous and sacrificial in their giving.

What do you believe?

Visit our Mission, Vision, Values page.

What about evangelism?

We believe that all believers should be a part of making new believers. We believe that believers who are passionate about loving God and practical in their love for others will impact the world around them and others will be drawn to the Kingdom of God. God never intended us to “build his church”. He said he would do that. What he has called us to do is go and make disciples. As disciples go and make disciples, He will grow his church. One of the marks of a follower of Christ is one who goes and finds others who will follow Christ. Unfortunately, in many cases, we have spent so much time getting people in church we have not invested in relational discipleship. We are asking believers to win the world one disciple at a time by extending the love and grace of God that was extended to them, to their families, friends, business associates, neighbors, and others that God brings across their paths in daily life.

How are leaders selected?

Participants with gifts and abilities to lead will naturally rise up in an "organic fashion" and be identified by the leader and encouraged to start a new community. New Communities should be started in accountable relationship with the leader of the reproducing community. We believe that everyone in the community has something to offer and communities will, by their very "organic nature", be very participatory. Communities should be developed around the principle of "simple and reproducible". Simple does not mean simplistic. We believe every believer can be a missionary, and every house can be a church and every church can be a training center sending out missionaries.

How are leaders trained?

In "Simple and Reproducible" communities training is primarily relational discipleship. Therefore, basic training begins with good discipleship. Beyond that each community leader should receive training through their "organic church network" events, personal coaching, classes, seminars, recommended readings, and other available training that is found in the journey. Additional training and resources will be added as we grow and develop. Apostolic leaders are encouraged to receive additional training in denominational mission, vision, and doctrines as well as in issues related to community life, relevant practical ministry, introductory counseling issues, and leadership skills. Training is a journey not an event. The heartbeat of each organic community should be discipleship which is a process of training believers to be like Christ.

Do you have to be ordained?

Ordination is not a requirement in the Nazarene Organic Church Network to lead an organic church.  However, many of our leaders are ordained or are pursuing ordination in the Church of the Nazarene. 

Leaders interested in licensing and ordination may avail themselves of a network of educational institutions from certificate level through seminary level.

When and how do communities split?

It is not our desire to become little holy clubs, but to grow and expand around the world. One of the difficulties with group life is how to launch new groups. As communities grow, there will come a time when size will be restrictive. We do not encourage groups to "divide" but to raise up leaders within each group with the mindset of impacting our world by starting like minded groups. This is a missionary mindset. Instead of splitting we have a sending mindset where we send out missionaries to plant kingdom in new pockets of people. With this mindset and DNA in the group, some of the participants may join together to start the new community. It is our vision to plant a community within walking distance of everyone in a city. The most effective reproduction is when a community is started in the residence of a new believer and his or her extended family and friends are invited. It should be a natural part of the DNA of every community to start new communities.

Do organic pastors receive a wage?

We are seeing many different blends of support for organic leaders. Some receive a wage from a network of churches that partner together to help support the "apostolic leader", others simply are bi-vocational and receive nothing from their personal organic church network. Some work with a district in other capacities with some support from them. Always keep in mind however the importance of simple and reproducibility. The most reproducible model is bi-vocational.

What can I expect from the network?

You can expect an opportunity to partner with likeminded missionaries. We will share resources, training and coaching opportunities, and an environment where you can learn and grow as well as share your insights with others. The network is here to do just that, “network”! We would encourage you to share your stories, challenges, questions, etc. We will learn together as we interact together.