Organic Church is, in my opinion, a great companion to George Barna’s Revolution. The criticism I have mainly heard of Barna’s book is that it doesn’t offer any solutions or options. Mr. Barna says this is where we are headed, like it or not. But this is Mr. Barna’s specialty. He reports on culture. He shows us where the trends are leading us & what the future might hold. His specialty is not practicality, but research.
Neil Cole’s Organic Church is the outgrowth of the trends which Mr. Barna speaks. But Mr. Cole will be the first to tell you not to use his book like a guidebook. It is his story & we should follow our own path, but we can use the general principles he gives for our own story.
To narrow down the key points & keen insights in this book is tough, because there are so many. Mr. Cole has really thought mission & “church” through. However, this isn’t your father’s church. This may not even be your church. He stresses that this is God’s church.
This is the first key point I came across. God is first & foremost in Mr. Cole’s thinking. Everything is God-centered. He also is very aware to let God move & not to confine God by his (Mr. Cole’s) meager thinking. God has grand, sweeping goals & ideas. Let’s open ourselves up to them. He is adamant that what we do is for Jesus, not ourselves, not our community, not our church.
Another key point is that church growth/health are very important, however, traditional models of church growth are faulty. When most of us think of church growth we think big churches. A statistic Mr. Cole uses is that 96% of churches never plant another congregation. He then correlates that with a woman. If 96% of women never reproduced, then we as a race would be in serious trouble. To take his illustration further, traditional models of church growth would be similar to a person growing in girth. And as we all know, fatter is not healthier.
Mr. Cole feels like we are also tied into the centralization model. The church is so much more… More than a building, more than a single location, more than what we are doing with it. God’s kingdom is meant to be decentralized, Mr. Cole says. “God has always intended for humankind to spread out & fill the earth with his glory.”
This is only a brief smattering of the great material in this book. Mr. Cole is not a great exegete, but the conclusions he comes up with from Scripture are sound. This is a book that all ministry leaders should put on their must read list. It is highly recommended by both George Klippenes of EFCA Church Planting & Jim Fann of EFCA Church Health.
In tandem, I would also recommend Mr. Barna’s book Revolution. In reading that, remember, that Mr. Barna is a researcher, a trend finder. If you go into that book looking for answers, you will not find them. If you want to see where we are headed, you will discover it. I recommend reading Revolution first & then following it up with Organic Church.
Each of these books is offered at 20% off the list price here