This is a continuing series by Michael Fleming, working from the book "Organic Community" by Joseph R. Myers.
Previous posts in this series are:
1) Is Your Church an Object?
2) Is Your Church a Clone?
3) Is Your Church a Body?
4) Is Your Church a Scoreboard?
5) Is Your Church a Factory?
6) Is Your Church a Hierarchy?
7) Is Your Church a Collaboration?
8) Is Your Church Old Covenant?
9) Is Your Church A Noun
10) Is Your Church Asking "How"?
Nine organizational tools that you can use in a mechanical or organic order way are:
Mechanical – attempt to force the realization of a plan that worked somewhere else by controlling people and processes to get there. You try and make people into parts that will fit together to look like what you envision creating.
Organic – allows individuals and groups to grow and become uniquely themselves in each situation. The group looks like the body of Christ when the parts connect and do their special works for each other. This will be a literal spiritual expression of Jesus Christ on the earth in His second body. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Mechanical – trying to get people to participate in created positions that serve a plan. Participation is usually forced and people feel uncomfortable and out of place.
Organic – individuals feel free and responsible to act uniquely as themselves for the good of the group as a whole. They find out what special graces they’ve been given by God and they use them to accomplish the works that God prepared in advance for them to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Mechanical – value is found in numbers related to an end point to be reached. People are assessed based upon the health of the organization.
Organic – value is found in the story of the life of the group. Success is found in the health of the organism from its individual parts.
Mechanical – measured in outward evidences of numbers, resources, activities and other inanimate measuring sticks.
Organic – takes small steps forward at the community’s own pace. Growth is based upon individual’s maturity to completion in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
Mechanical – delivered through permanent positions. Man is trusted with control of the body of Christ through the assignment of permanent power, no matter where the wind (Spirit) blows.
Organic – revolves through the parts of the whole depending on what is being demanded by the life of the organism. The Spirit gives power to the parts that need it to accomplish His will in a progressive fashion as time goes on. (John 3:8)
Mechanical – asks people to cooperate by falling in line with a plan to make it work. People become commodities to be maneuvered toward a person’s vision.
Organic – self-organization through collaboration of parts based upon their connection. The vision is from the Head through all of the parts together. (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Mechanical – accountability to hold people responsible for their actions. The focus is on performance in relation to sin.
Organic – edit-ability to help on the journey to wholeness. The focus is encouragement toward allowing God to live in and through the person ever-increasingly. (Ephesians 5:17-18)
Mechanical – words are noun-centric. They turn dynamic words into static words.
Organic – words are verb-centric.
Mechanical – pre-determined allocation based upon the question, “How are we going to do this?” People assume future events can and should take place and make pre-mature decisions based upon those assumptions.
Organic – moment-by-moment allocation based upon the thought, “This is how we can do this.” People do what they are able with the graces they’ve been given.
Humans can’t build living things. When they build something, whatever it is; it is dead. It may serve a good purpose and show tremendous creative abilities, but only God can create and sustain something that is living. This is where we’re breaking down in the Church.
At the root of who is doing the building of the Church is the issue of control. The sinful nature seems to want to take it from God and other people in an effort to deal with the fear that comes with unpredictability. The fear that if we let God have control, He won’t live up to His promises and take care of us. The fear that if we let Christ be the Head, He won’t know how to animate the Body and it will find itself in chaos and utterly destroy itself.
God’s eternal purpose was to create One New Man that would be alive by the life of God with Christ as the Head (Ephesians 2:14-22). Because this One New Man is a living organism, it grows and develops organically, just like all living things. But, because of man’s fear rooted in the sinful nature, they tend to take control away from God and try to build the One New Man themselves, in their own power. This is like trying to engineer an animal in a laboratory. It just can’t be done. You can’t engineer the genetic code of God, the DNA of the Church. The best one can do is create something inanimate that looks and acts like the living thing they are trying to engineer.
I’ve found that many times a conversation about giving up control gets translated into a conversation about giving up leadership. But, an important distinction must be made here. True biblical leaders don’t control. “You don’t lead by pointing a finger and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” (Ken Kesey) Then, watch and see if people do it. Many leaders today are pointing to a place of organic community and telling people to go there, and waiting for people to go there, while at the same time doing the same things over and over again in a mechanical way. They won’t admit it and they may not realize it, but they are afraid to give up control. The true leaders are the ones that are not afraid to go to a place of organic community and make a case for people to come along, even if it means going there alone.
Is there order in God? Yes.
Is there structure in God? Yes.
Is there government in God? Yes.
But God’s order, structure and government are diametrically opposed to the worlds (John 15:18-19). It’s alive and always evolving. Sadly, many of those that are considered “leaders” today are attempting to engineer the Christian life according to the world’s system, which is what we need to identify and move away from.
Creating an organic environment for community to grow is just like creating the environment for any other living thing to grow. The right conditions must be met. The more you use the nine organizational tools in a mechanical way, the worse the conditions become for life to grow. When used organically, the nine organizational tools create the environment for the organism to grow, thrive and its life (Christ) to be shared with all.
Myers, Joseph R. "Organic Community"
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