Why I’m Pro-Organic Church – Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on organic church goes through my journey into finding out about organic church and what the characteristics of an organic church are. It is almost impossible to say what any one meeting will look like in an organic church, because Christ as the head of the gathering can lead the meeting in the direction He wants. However, there are certain characteristics that are common to all truly organic churches because they have the same DNA. This post aims to try and convey what an organic church might look like practically. The only way for someone to truly know is for them to visit one, but hopefully I can convey what an organic church looks like through some practical examples and testimonies (See the end of the post for links). I am part of an organic expression of church in Cape Town, South Africa, and much of what I will share is based around my experience, although we are still growing and learning!

The first practical characteristic of an organic church is that Christ is at the center of the meeting. Everything is by Him, through Him, and for Him. The members of organic churches desire to live, express, and enjoy Christ together, with God’s eternal purpose as the vision and motivation of the gathering. What about the Holy Spirit? His job is to speak about the Son and reveal Him in all His glory, because Christ is the image of the visible God and in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

The second practical characteristic is that the meeting is open and every member can function as they are lead by the Christ the Head, through the Spirit. This is in line with the early church gatherings spoken about in 1 Cor. 14, where every member could bring a song, hymn, teaching etc. to the gathering for the building up of the church. Practically, members might write songs together or alone, exalting Christ or an aspect of His riches. The song would be brought and sung together. Songs might happen spontaneously. People might write poems glorifying Christ. Somebody might feel burdened to bring a teaching to the group, etc. All things are done for the building up of the church. Each member is allowed to function in their God given roles. Each member is an active priest in the priesthood of all believers.

The third practical characteristic is that there is no hierarchy (professional clergy), among the members. The only hierarchy is Christ the Head, and the members His body. Christ is the true Senior Pastor. You may be thinking, what about elders? Or what about prophets, evangelists etc? The simple answer is that organic churches have all of these types of people and gifts, but they do not occupy a formal office. Instead they fulfill a function in the body. For example, shepherds do what their name suggests, they shepherd the other believers. The difference is that they are equally brothers or sisters, and functioning members of the body. Alan Knox has written an excellent series on elders in the Church, which I highly recommend if you are interested.

The fourth practical characteristic is that organic churches share life with one another on a day-to-day basis. The church may assemble corporately a few times a week in a home (the home is not what defines an organic church, but it is practical and convenient. The early churches also met in homes), but members also share life with one another during the week. Homes are open for fellowship between brothers and sisters. Members share Christ around meals. Brothers meet up with brothers to enjoy Christ together or walk with Christ together. Members are ‘built’ together with one another. There is beautiful community life in organic churches.

There are many more practical characteristics to organic churches, but hopefully this helps to show what an organic church looks like. Below are 3 different testimonies of people who came into contact or who are part of organic expressions of church.

Visiting an organic Church: A Firsthand report

What does Authentic Organic Church Life Look Like – Part 1

What does Authentic Organic Church Life Look Like – Part 2

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Nathan Odell Nathan Odell is the author of Joined to Him. You can connect with him on

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Comments

  1. Allie Mataafa says:

    Brilliant read Hamilton…

  2. Often the hierarchical part of church is due to the people more then the leadership. Also, most people will find anything they can that agrees with what they want, to avoid doing what they don’t want to do. Like the “whole institutional church got their practices from pagans” thing I’ve heard a thousand times over. Then we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas cause the day wasn’t really Jesus’s birthday. (I don’t think that but others do) Last time I checked I never grew up a jew, so practicing things that were deemed not mandatory by the infusion of life given to us, or trying to practice a form of something that was for a certain people in a different time is just another form of religion trying not to be religious. Real growth… Christian growth is found in rubbing shoulders with the mature and immature in the faith. It shows us what’s really inside our hearts from out of our mouths, and through our actions. Everything else is a mask.
    Please understand that this is my understanding as God has shown me. I am the one who sticks around when others come and go and I’ve witnessed the maturity that comes from what I’m speaking. Ok.
    The mask is there when we are around those that are likeminded. But when we face someone who is at opposition with us or better yet when they are believers and are different…….. Catholics….. that’s when our heart is revealed. Sigh…..
    All I’m trying to say is that together WE have the mind of Christ. Some are great at understanding the severity of the weight that sin had on us, others the importance of being baptised in water, others the baptism in the Holy Spirit, others are faith driven and word conscious, others float about in love, others have great structure, and others have little to give room for the Holy Spirit. All of which is necessary for US to grow. No one person will be all encompassing. We will all gravitate in one direction or another cause that’s how he made us. We are his body. So the hands can’t say “I think I’ll be a foot today.” It is true that in moments God will grace someone with gifts when they are willing and others are not, but this isolating gospel I’m hearing about “in Christ is the fullness of the gifts so I have everything in him and don’t need anyone else” is both the truth and a lie.

    • Hey Robert. Thanks for commenting. I agree wholeheartedly that we need all the members of the body to function in their God given roles to know the fullness of Christ… and I have written about this extensively in my older posts. It is because of this that I reject many of the pagan practices adopted by the traditional/institutional church. Many of these practices inhibit the every member functioning of the body and as such I reject them. This is why I am pro-organic Church, because it is a simple, tradition free, and loving community that celebrates every member functioning in their God-given roles regardless of whether they are mature or immature. Organic church wholeheartedly agrees with you and rejects the notion of what you mentioned, “in Christ is the fullness of the gifts so I have everything in him and don’t need anyone else”, because Christ is made up of a many membered body, which means the fullness of Christ can only be experienced when every member of the body functions.

  3. Rita Gatti says:

    Very interesting blog Nathan and needed as God seems to be offering this younger generation a way into His arms, free of the things that hinder…in much the same way He did for my generation in the 60’s and 70’s through the Jesus Movement. We were not encumbered with traditional church practices at first, being rejected by the established churches for the most part because they just did not know what to do with such a motley crew in the numbers that were getting “saved” in such an unconventional way. So we just naturally met in homes without appointed hierarchy other than the natural leadership of the older members. We all sang new songs given by the Holy Spirit, spoke out in spontaneous ways that unbeknowst to us, but would be labelled prophecy, discernment, teaching, etc. We prayed, brought new people to our meetings and watched them fall on their knees in tearful repentance and rise up as part of us or going on their way with a changed heart. We read the Scriptures together and agreed on life changes as we felt things in our lives were not pleasing to the Lord according to His word without anyone dictating their standard to us. Sadly after a few years of tremendous blessing and growth we felt inadequate to deal with the ongoing issues without someone who was more learned in the Word and like the Israelites we prayed for a “king” and God gave us one. It was not all bad, but because of the ordinary programming from our culture, we began to feel that to be a bona fide church we needed to look more like the traditional churches and we began to accept and incorporate those things into our community life. Over time this brought about a division within us…our church life, full of demands, programs, rituals and commitments and our private life full of exhaustion, resentments and deceit. This eventually played out over 30 years+ and broke up the community shortly after the “king” died. The younger generation in a lot of cases rejected the faith. During this time we did learn much and lives were changed and some profited much from the group dynamics but most of us learned to “do the dance”, living in two different worlds, tolerating hypocrisy and manipulation by fear…having invested so much time in the emotional and spiritual ties and bonds…we were easily controlled. But we matured regardless, eventually went our separate ways and sunk or swam accordingly, through our own “wilderness” experiences and the viability of the seeds that were planted. Some attached to other traditional churches. Myself not so. I spent quite a few years unlearning. And then came across Pagan Christianity! I was ready…and have enjoyed the most unique and exciting revisiting of that first love and the ongoing joys and trials of gathering with brethren in the simplicity of organic church…going from house to house (we rotate gathering places to better manage the burden of hosting and also to minimize the possibility of anyone relating to “the church in my house”). For several years now God has been meeting with us in very unspectacular ways (to the human eye), meeting the deepest needs without much ado, causing us to stay in love with Him and His kingdom ways and yearning to be more like Him, to be courageous in the face of fearful potential for ourselves and our young, energizing us to pursue more of His life on behalf of others and much more. Well, a little trip through my experience…didn’t plan on going down this path…but maybe it will edify someone. I am, as an elderly Christian, rooting for all you folks who are helping the younger generations to be able to grasp the “riches of His glory” in such urgent times. Blessings for strength and endurance and ongoing inspiration and understanding.

    • Thanks Rita for taking the time to share so vividly your journey into organic church. It is great to hear and understand some of the history from the Jesus movement. It sounds like it was a genuine organic and grass-roots experience of church. It’s sad that it eventually became more institutionalized. I hope and pray that this time round the new generation (including me) seeking and pursuing organic church, will learn from past mistakes, and continue seeking Christ and Him alone. Thanks again for such a great comment!

  4. Rita Gatti says:

    Robert, celebrating Christmas embraces some real “sacred cow” issues for me. I doubt that our Lord really values all the hullabaloo and the opportunities for divisiveness it all offers rather than drawing people to Him. Most of the traditions can be traced back to pagan practices and certainly are mostly cultural rather than spiritual…yet some would hold up the need and freedom to say Merry Christmas instead of Season’s Greetings as if it were a life and death matter regarding their faith. I am not for or against celebrating Christmas, but it is just not something of consequence in the grand scheme of this battle we are in against the enemy of our souls and the purposes of God in Christ coming to redeem us. Another call for simplicity might be heralded regarding Christmas, you think? Organic Church certainly provides opportunity to break from man-made traditions that are corrupted or carry minimal weight in the arsenal we have to use against the enemy.

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  1. […] an organic expression of church, it has been one of the most exciting experiences I have had and in part 3 I will share some of my personal experiences and other stories of what can occur in an organic […]

  2. […] my series on “Why I’m Pro-Organic Church” I looked at what an organic church is and I gave some practical characteristics of what […]

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