A friend recently sent me this article by Phillip Jensen: 10 Propositions about Evangelism and Church
Below is an edited response I sent him. I have posted this here (with his permission) in the hope that it may help in clarifying some of the theological thinking undergirding a more organic church.
I think this article fails at a rather fundamental sense in that much of the article makes the assumption that church is a meeting. I think if we see church primarily as an identity then many of the questions that so vex evangelicalism about the nature of the meeting become moot points. If church is a more than a meeting (a network of kingdom/gospel relationships) then we are the church when we gather to study Scripture, clean a park, paint a wall or braai some meat.
A related question would be do we live consistently with this identity in all of these contexts or only in the ones we perceive to be spiritual. Is church for Christians or non-Christians – well we could have meetings that probably would appeal to Christians more (like studying the Bible) but if we live as church when we go to a pub quiz – then non-Christians are able to experience church as a network of relationships wherever we are.
Part of the objections to this kind of theology is that if all we do together is church then is it possible that nothing is in fact church (i.e. we just hang out and allow everything to happen organically and no one is ever challenged with the gospel, discipled, grown etc). This is of course a valid concern. Intentionality is of course the key.
As is the realisation that missional, organic church (working correctly) is not calling people to a lesser vision of church but a bigger one! We are not calling for less Bible but more Bible – in intentional meeting yes – but also in all of life – braaing, shopping, hanging out etc. In the same way we want to see not less worship, evangelism, edification, church planting but more.