Natural vs. Artificial Local Church

naturalWe talk a lot about “Organic” church here in the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador.  It can be a loaded term, and is often held up as an alternative to “institutional” forms of church. “Institutional” can be a loaded term also, and is often negatively applied by those who choose not to gather in more traditional ways.

Recently, a bright young disciple said, “Can we stop using the term ‘organic’ when it comes to church?” “It’s confusing and means something a bit different to us.”  I said, “Sure, what would you like to use in its place?”  He said, “How about ‘Natural Church’?”

I then asked him what words he would use to describe churches that weren’t ‘natural?’  He replied, “Well, how about ‘artificial’ or ‘synthetic?’

A couple of questions:

1.  In your view, what characteristics would a ‘natural’ local church have?

2.  In your view, what characteristics would an ‘artificial’ or ‘synthetic’ local church have?


0 thoughts on “Natural vs. Artificial Local Church

  1. Thoughts:
    1. Why is the label even important?
    2. Does the fact that we have to label the formof church set up an unnatural and unbiblical “us vs them” mentality within different groups in the body of Christ?
    3. Would it be more valuable to focus on making disciples who make disciples rather than dividing up the body into camp types?
    4. “Artificial” sounds needlessly judgmental and pejorative. “Synthetic” is better but not by much when the contrast is “natural”.
    5. Why wouldn’t the church simply meet as the church, rather than describe itself by a form?
    6. If a “traditional” or “institutional” or “brick” or “conventional” or “established” (all words that we who are drawn to more organic forms have used) described themselves with any of these adjectives, wouldn’t we think, “that’s wierd?” Why do we except ourselves from the same charge?
    7. Isn’t it time for us to graduate from this level of discussion?

    • Miguel says:

      1. The label isn’t important. But, when traditional/institutional churches or their leaders require an explanation for why you don’t attend them, it becomes necessary.

      2. Yes, but the NT is full of us vs. them.

      3. Absolutely. Problem is that institutional/traditional churches are stuck on the idea that disciples are made through them.

      4. The way folks throw around “institutional” is surely pejorative.

      5. You would think that would be the case, but expression often turns to form and then to denomination.

      6. Good question.

      7. It might be time for certain segments of the church (ecclesias) to graduate from this level of discussion, but where churches/gatherings are being birthed, it might not yet be time.

  2. Numbered responses are so helpful!
    1. Why fight a battle with someone else’s choice of weapons (words)? Why not abandon the quarrel before it starts?
    2. Yes, but Paul’s “us vs them’s” are “orthodox vs heretics” (mostly). Is that really what we want to say about those who disagree with us?
    3. Problem is, most of us carrying on the discussion became disciples (and even disciple-makers) in those “ineffective” churches. They are doing something of value, many of them anyway. Shouldn’t we let them answer to their own master and spend our time and energy making more and better disciples ourselves rather than kicking other (weaker?) brothers about what or how they are operating?
    4. I agree.
    5. Refuse to be controlled by others perspective. We live for an audience of One. We neither need nor should we desire others approval.
    6. I’m trying to ask it everyday to keep myself centered in “the things I don’t need” perspective.
    7. Maybe so. Lord hasten the day.

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