Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Church Transfusion is Possible and Needed

I have always said that organic church is not a model of church but a mindset. Whether mega or micro, every church must relate organically or it is not truly the body of Christ.

The ugly truth is that churches of all models are struggling to be missional and need help. The help that we all need is not a better set of goals, a new program, logo or a hotter worship band. We need a transfusion of life in the cells of Christ’s body. We have been trained to believe that a cell group or a house church is the basic cell of Christ’s body, but I believe this is not helping us. I have found that a disciple in relation to another disciple is the true cell of Christ’s body. The basic unit of church life is a group of two or three. That is where we need to find the healthy DNA of Christ’s body. If it is not found in the disciples than the DNA is not in the church no matter what the core values or the messages from the pulpit say. Your church is only as healthy as the disciples in your church.

In our new book coming out in a month (Sep. 2012), Church Transfusion, Phil Helfer and I address how to release organic life into the disciples of established churches so that the church can experience a transfusion of healthy DNA.

This book describes five different churches that have experienced such a transfusion. We purposely chose five very different churches to show that the organic transfusion process works in a broad spectrum of models. Two of the churches are over fifty years old. Some are new church plants. One is a mega church of several thousand. One is a Vineyard church, one is a Reformed Covenant Church and One is Southern Baptist. Some have become a network of small spiritual families meeting in homes. Some have a very traditional skin yet a very organic soul. One has become a transformative presence in the arts, business and culture of our world. All are making disciples and starting new works. Each has made a profound difference in their community and in other nations and have birthed other ministries and churches.

In our book there are two parts. The first part shows that change is possible with God and demonstrates what that change means and how it looks in a variety of churches. The second half of the book takes the reader through a very practical process of transfusion that relates to any model in any culture.

Both Phil and I will be at the Sentralized Conference in Kansas City this September speaking about Church Transfusion.


Derek Sweatman said...

Neil, good post. One of the things I've been rolling over in my mind within the missional conversation is the subject of mindset versus model, something you mentioned early on in this post. Here's the struggle:

In human behavior we need model(s) to help reinforce our mindset. Without some measurable means to carry out our internal callings, we are left alone. And those models must be simple and effective, and in place to help us measure results. Plus, they help us in determining the path we should take with the "positive" commands, such as "love your neighbor." Without systems, tradition, liturgy, and so forth, its hard to take steps.

Think: "Lord, teach us to pray." The response of Jesus was not, "You just need to want to pray!" He gave them, and us, a rubric (with lose ends) to use in helping his people get there.

So my question is this: What do you see the balance being between mindset & model? I know its there, but its been hard to determine.


Neil Cole said...

Derek, I have found it helpful to use simple and transferable practices that reinforce core DNA rather than a specific organizing model. In the search for ways to release the Gospel and disciple multiplying in other cultures one simply must strive to discover what is universal and eliminate all else. In doing this we land on very simply ways that can work all over the world. I write extensively about this in a chapter of Church 3.0. The problem you run into is that models do help less innovative people in a specific cultural context, but the reality is it also creates as many barriers as it does help when you want to reproduce into other people groups. The samples you use are actually examples I use in Church 3.0 to illustrate universal reproducible and transferable ways of communicating truth around the world. The Lord's prayer, Baptism, communion are all apostolic ways of spreading important truths to all cultural contexts and I believe this is why our enemy has worked so hard to steal them. I think you will like Church 3.0

Neil Cole said...

The problem with models is not just what happens when you export them to other lands (as bad as that is) but it also ties people to a form that will eventually become less effective and outdated but which people are reticent to abandon and we end up enslaved to a model. This happens all the time. I agree with what you are saying, but I also see the dangers. Strive to find simple, reproducible and transferable ways of releasing the Gospel (DNA) in any context...while a challenge, it is certainly worth it. Tahnks for chiming in!