By Lloyd Gardner
God is leading His people to simple ways of gathering that cut out the religious baggage and allow for genuine life together in Him. Often people meet in homes or other informal places and ways around a meal. The communion meal is celebrated during the meal; perhaps there is singing of songs, prayer and sharing from God’s word. I have grown to appreciate the term “organic church” to describe this growing expression because it allows God’s life in us to be expressed as He directs. Any organic thing grows by the life within it. The life of the church is Christ and as He is allowed to direct our ways, to that extent we express Him as a spiritual body.
Those trying to live together in an organic way face the same challenges that face the organized church. We still must learn to love one another, submit to one another and persevere with one another through weakness and mistakes. We must learn to walk in the forgiveness granted to us in Christ, and with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering, bear with one another in love (Eph. 4:2).
But, the organic church is able to set aside much of the religious busyness that has nothing to do with the purpose of the church and concentrate on loving God and loving His people. They are able to meet in small numbers that allow for participation and feedback from others. There is a setting for intimacy with God and one another without the constraints of time and agenda.
Authentic church is the fulfillment of the greatest commandments. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-39). If we are truly seeking to live according to God’s will, we will find ourselves in an environment that encourages us to love Him and to love our neighbors, the people in our lives.
The conditions of spiritual life are the word of God, participatory fellowship, communion with Christ and prayer (Acts 2:42). In much of today’s organized church life, these conditions are absent or at best limited. We have the word being preached and taught by one person but there is no feedback and little participation on the part of the saints. Every mention of a church gathering in the New Testament involves participation on the part of the believers (Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:18-20; 1 Cor. 14:26-32).
There was no place for passivity with one person dominating the meeting. Every believer was assumed to have the anointing of God for ministry (1 John 2:27) and every believer was given the responsibility for judging and testing what was done or said, (1 Thess. 5:18-21; Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 14:29). It was considered completely out of order for one person to have the number one place or dominate the meetings. In 3 John we hear about a man named Diotrephes who wanted that number one position and used it to reject the helpers being sent from the apostle John. Then he kicked people out of the church that disagreed with him (3 John 9-11).