Confessional Institutional Church on Sunday – Missional Organic Church Monday Thru Saturday? Is It Possible?

MissiorganicI was reading a month old blog this morning and came across an interesting proposition. The author said, “

“There is no reason why a confessional/institutional church can’t still make a big deal out of Sunday worship and then pour the rest of their resources and energy into mission and discipleship through more organic, less programmed means throughout the week.”

One Question:

Is this scenario/proposition possible? 



0 thoughts on “Confessional Institutional Church on Sunday – Missional Organic Church Monday Thru Saturday? Is It Possible?

  1. David Woods says:

    Only with a congregation that would be willing to give up the former in favor of the latter if it came down to it.

  2. Kirk Stephens says:

    I’m starting to see it at the big mega church we grew. Even though we used the CGM, the mission has always been the same. Seek those outside of the kingdom and bring them in. It was fun to grow. From 40 to 3000 a weekend in 5-6 years. A 40 acre 40000 sq. ft launching pad for local organizations and of course mission. And I think it’s almost paid for? Adoption capitol MT, the building is used almost 24/7. Housing Family Promise (homeless families), Free daycare? The discipleship program is getting much stronger. Free bibles to all guests who walk in the door and want one. So many locally headquartered orphan, and help organizations use the facility. Zoe, Summer of Hope, etc., etc.. 5-600 baptisms? Saw my good old buddy Charlie Hall there today. Hardly anyone sits on the fence and watches the show? People are coming out of their comfort zones, with one goal, share the kingdom. I have no clue how many have taken APEST? Or I’m not sure it matters? Unity with other church bodies:) Teamwork! Are the fullness, and power of the Holy Spirit being realized with big miracles like healing, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead? I may have to bring in outside prophets and healers for this to happen? Jesus, Himself didn’t even have a lot of success with miracles in His hometown? It all starts with unconditional, uncondemning, no-preconceived ideas of Love. And we all have to admit, that our spiritual experiences are preconditioned by our previous knowledge of the power of the Holy Spirit, and church lives? Job! And it may not even matter? A thief may come in the night, and steal, heal, our hearts forever? Soon? But we must remain vigilant and be like John the Baptist, and John the Apostle/Prophet. Patient like David, wise like Solomon. The kingdom of heaven is at hand! One Law, love/trust God, and your neighbor. Yahweh-Yireh

  3. Marshall says:

    even the tenet of taking a weekly collection with which to do missions proves obstructive. If we’re assembling for the wrong reasons so that we can perform so many things estranged to Christ, how may this fully support His presence and present work local and/or around the globe. Yet, some may say “support” has long-since been redefined to mean “money”.

    The “Sunday worship” service church is the far-flung cauldron from which spills so many failing mission works. Just this week, hearing from a “missionary” in Africa who is apparently bringing western philosophy & cultural values as his “Jesus” gospel. There has been such a long litany of missional failure around the world by zealous-religious people who were handed half-a-gospel served under syncretism with not as much as an “appetizer” to offer for Who Jesus Christ truly is yesterday and today and forever.

  4. I think it’s possibly biblical:) Corporate worship is integral to the rhythm & nourishment of the organic life of the body. He brings us to Himself to belong to a community of believers, to go out & be the church in the world. Worshipping in a covenant community orients me to life’s true sustenance & purpose. So I think yes, I think it’s possible to do…even if done imperfectly.

  5. Alan Knox says:

    Is it possible? Yes. However, people will have to go beyond what they are taught by example on Sundays. I think this is very difficult for most.


  6. Dennis Hesselbarth says:

    Must we equate Sunday AM worship to a confessional, institutional Church? Though I don’t see how an truly institutional church can be at the same time organic and missional, meeting on Sunday morning doesn’t mean a church is institutional.

    Our journey from institutional to organic began with running into a full blown cell church, I hope I can represent what they’ve done as best I understand it. As CTK multiplied cells in a community, they sensed the need to gather the cells together for worship and coordination. That evolved into a model where they gather in rented spaces for an hour or so on Sunday mornings to worship, receive instruction, and coordinate. The rest of their ministry is all out in the community through cells. I met their founder, Dave Browning. He said, despite their intentions and to their surprise, they found that many/most? unchurched people who ended up in their cells came through first attending a Sunday service. He viewed this as a reflection of the cultural expectation of “church” being on Sunday morning, even in the Pacific Northwest, the most unchurched region of the USA. CTK is full blown missional and organic in anyone’s definition. Most of their cells are filled with unchurched people.

    Our own inner city church, which has transitioned from institutional to organic, retains Sunday morning worship, despite my protestations. Our people feel it is vital. Again, I think cultural expectations play a role here. The primary source of persons feeding into our house churches are missional outreach things like free community meals where relationships are built. But, like CTK, the path usually goes through Sunday AM worship to the house churches meeting throughout the week. That’s not the plan, but truth is, that’s what happens.

    It goes back to that essential cross cultural tool: distinguishing form vs function. A form (small group, large group worship, etc) can have different functions. We can’t assume that a given form is institutional or missional/organic.

    • Marshall says:

      Dennis, there is doubt to the function “worship” (regarding “Sunday AM worship”), and not with the “Sunday” day-of-week selection, that reveals an off-course vector. The ekklesia/church was not founded or asked by Christ to meet for “worship” or “worship service”. Designating worship to an assembly time skews from true worship while also depicting a profound corporate/shared ignorance.
      So then, if we’re unknowing or unable or unwilling to gather in the foundation & cause for which He is the Cornerstone, how may we anticipate the “rest of their ministry” as being on course with what Christ (our Head) would be doing among us? This seems akin to a group of confident navigators who demonstrate a marked inability to read maps. It depicts a risky deception in play.

      • Dennis Hesselbarth says:

        Marshall, what “worship” means, Sunday morning or at other times varies widely. The function of that time together can vary. My point is that very missional, organic churches gather for Sunday worship. That isn’t to say that the usual, common approach of such assemblies is healthy. But I can’t argue that the very form of corporate worship itself is somehow suspect.

        I don’t find compelling the argument that forms (like corporate worship) that were not specified by Jesus are suspect. Jesus didn’t give us a encyclopedic manual listing every form, every strategy. And I’m not so sure Jesus didn’t expect us to worship him corporately. He certainly didn’t dissuade his followers from doing so after the resurrection. I think the historical evidence suggests that was quite common:

        Read this account by Justin Martyr, an early church father (l05-165 A. D.):

        “And on the day called Sunday all who live in the city or in the country gather together to one place and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings according to his ability and the people assent saying Amen…”

        Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96-97
        a letter to the Emperor Trajan regarding his research on Christians:

        “They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food–but ordinary and innocent food…”

        We know that the center of this worship was the agape meal, where the body and blood was remembered and Jesus was worshipped. Are we to conclude that the early church, meeting as we know primarily in homes, was already way off base because they met and worshiped Jesus? I suspect you would agree it wasn’t off base.

        I suspect your concern isn’t really with the form of corporate worship, but that the common practice today of corporate worship isn’t healthy. What I would find helpful is if you could detail what it is that goes on today that isn’t healthy.

  7. Tom Caylor says:

    What happens with “making a big deal out of Sunday worship” is that worship, by practice, gets redefined. Biblically worship is defined as in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” That’s 24/7, not 1 hour a week.
    There’s the typical institutional non-organic approach in which worship by design (or by misunderstanding what worship is) is defined as what we call “corporate worship”. But what about this hypothetical case of “making a big deal out of Sunday worship” and then “pour the rest of their resources” (i.e. the other 30% (?) after pastor’s salaries and rent etc.) into more organic means? In my view, what happens so much of the time is that the Sunday “worship” is such a “big deal” that it totally blows everything else out of the water. At the end of the hour on Sunday, we are so impressed (the bigger deal the service is, the more impressed we are) that we have really worshipped God, that everything else pales in comparison. We invoke all of the senses and all of our emotions and all of our mind, and even some “sacrifice”, in this one hour, so much that, even if unintentional, it ends up seeming that we have completely worshipped God. Perhaps eating a bunch of sugar is not that bad of an analogy.

  8. Marshall says:

    Dennis, as we are reading the accounts you cite from Justin & Pliny, is conscience being pricked for what the modern “worship service” has altered into production of an assembly more after the pattern of old covenant temple worship? Admittedly, by Justin Martyr’s time (mid-2nd century), some things estranged to Christ had already been introduced. Yet, listening to mega & industrial-church parishioners as they emerge from their chosen worship service, one could hardly discern that they were gathered in presence of Christ, or even that they bear a mission except to returning to the same worship building on the following week if conditions might then so favor it.
    By assigning “worship” (our “service” of worship) to a weekend hour, we’re presuming more than 160 hours per week for something else — compliments to our personal discretion. This egregious sequester opens a private door to be delimiting all things Christ. Under such conditions, mission becomes ineffectual on the front-end and at the back-end: “Christians” who may allot a few minutes to serve God among a world of people who simple cannot bring themselves to miss the categorical unimportance of Christ to these people.
    We know that the center of ekklesia/church is Jesus Christ. When so subject to Him, as demonstrated through chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, His Life and mission becomes ours.

  9. Dennis Brown says:

    Jesus had a metaphor depicting the Kingdom of God as a mustard tree with many branches. No one can predict where the individual branches will go, but when one stands back the overall shape is still recognizable as a mustard tree.

    • Marshall says:

      is then the RCC a branch of the mustard tree, from which formed other Protestant branches?
      Rome and its leaflets have a long tradition of being missional.

  10. Wow. Thanks for citing my blog and asking folks to discuss..

    As to the question I propose…I could point folks to my Neo-Anabaptist friends who combine historic Christian liturgy (mainly due to their love for the Yale-Duke theologians) with their missional bent. My friend, Geoff Holsclaw, and his partner in crime, David Fitch, seem to blend these ancient practices (what you call “western” and “modern”) with the best of the missional church movement.

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