ORGANIC CHURCH LEADERSHIP and RENEWAL
Part of the ministry resources on Strategies Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal.
Not all who use the term “Organic Church” mean it in the same way. There are at least two common usages.
Within the missional/Missio Dei and emergent conversations, “organic” refers to a strictly deinstitutionalized pattern for Christian ministry, most commonly facilitated by loosely organized house-churches or missional communities. Or, if in a larger congregation, it is intentionally organized around smaller organic units. It elevates features such as meeting in homes, no professional pastor, everyone involved in worship, congregational/consensus decision making, no official leaders or elders but teachers and exemplars, etc. Two primary authors on this model are Frank Viola and Neil Cole. See the Resource Guide on Missional/Organic for a description and a list of suggested resources.
There is another use of “organic” that simply proposes a more natural way of developing established congregations. It is a “sow and grow” approach that stresses churches, whether newly planted or well-established, should be seen as living organisms that have natural ways of thriving. They have their own “seed” that grows naturally from the inside out. If leaders attune themselves to what God wishes to do with each living congregation, they can help churches grow from the inside out in ways that are innate to their identity. “Organic” simply means a more natural development rather than forcing all congregations into a set mold that may not fit their DNA. Unlike the missional/organic model described above, it does not carefully prescribe what an organic church should look like, but allows for considerable diversity based on a congregation’s unique culture. A closely related concept is congregational culture/church identity.
This resource guide is focused on the latter of the two, and a separate guide is devoted to the Organic/Missional communities.
These volumes listed below are excellent. They are not listed in any special order, as each makes a special contribution to the subject.
- Robert D. Dale, Seeds for the Future: Growing Organic Leaders for Living Churches — Dale’s special contribution is in helping leaders appropriate standard planning procedures and developmental practices in a way that is more in keeping with a congregation’s natural orientation. Offers a more helpful corrective to the typical “mechanical” planning procedures.
- Robert Lewis, Wayne Cordeiro, and Warren Bird, Culture-Shift: Transforming Your Church from the Inside Out — Steers leaders away from taking ideas that worked in one church and externally imposing them on to their church, i.e. growing a church from the outside in. The better way is for a congregation to birth its own culture that honors God’s unique imprint in them and allow the Holy Spirit to draw the people who need their special touch.
- Will Mancini, Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement — Mancini looks at the vision-casting process in a way that upholds a congregation’s unique values, thoughts, attitudes, and actions. He shows how church leaders may unlock their church’s DNA and unleash its one-of-a-kind potential.
- Christian Schwarz, Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches, 3rd Edition — An extensive development procedure based on research that claims to have discovered eight “growth automatisms,” i.e. elements that if present in a congregation allow God’s kingdom to grow “all by itself.” Although philosophically organic, it is a more prescriptive model that suggests all healthy churches have the eight characteristics outlined.
Related Ministry Resources
See Other Resources on Church Leadership and Renewal:
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal, Index
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Theological Foundations, Ecclesiology
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Philosophical Foundations – e.g. Church Growth, Missional, Emergent, and Other Missionally Responsive Trajectories
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Church Dynamics and Research
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Congregational Culture, Church Identity
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Church Size, Size Transitions
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Research and Case Studies on Effective Churches
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Special Situations, Small Church Development
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Strategies for Renewal
Ministry Resources on Related Areas
- Church Administration
- Transition and Change in Church
- Conflict in Church
- Elders, Church Governance
- Church Giving, Tithing, and Financial Stewardship
- Involvement, Using Spiritual Gifts for Ministry in Church
- Christian Leadership
- Managing Volunteers in Christian Ministry
- Church Staff, Ministry Teams
- Ministry Transitions, Interim Ministry
- Missional Perspectives, Intro
- Missional Strategies for Christian Ministry
- Pastoral Theology
- Social Ministry, Social Justice
- Spiritual Formation for Christian Ministry
- Theology of Mission and Ministry
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: