What the Confessional Church Should Learn From the Missional Church: Organic Models

While the missional movement has its origins in mainline Protestant liberalism, Karl Barth, and Leslie Newbigin (and has been ‘hijacked’ in ways by evangelical megachurches), the most innovative and fruitful models of the missional church have been organic models.

Whether it is Mike Breen and 3DM’s work on discipleship huddles and missional communities, Neil Cole’s Church Multiplication Associates, Jeff Vanderstelt’s SOMA Communities, or GCM Collective, much of the exciting stuff in the missional movement is happening apart from big buildings and big budgets.  Indeed, the celebrity church culture (which I think gets ‘too bad’ a rap at times) is not tied into these multiplication movements.

I think the confessional church has much to learn from this stream of the missional church.  While it is true that the tendency is to shift the center of gravity away from Lord’s Day worship to the life-on-life, organic model of church, I think both movements can balance each other out.  There is no reason why a confessional church can’t still make a big deal out of Sunday worship and then pour the rest of their resources and energy into mission and discipleship through more organic, less programmed means throughout the week.

I tend to agree with Tim Keller and others that models aren’t the end all and be all in our philosophy of ministry.  However, I think it is fair to say that too many traditional, confessional churches would be better off embracing neighborhood models of ministry where God’s people are equipped and mobilized during the week for mission and discipleship without the necessary presence of the senior pastor.

So, I challenge my confessional friends to check out some resources from David Fitch, Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, and Mike Breen.  You don’t need to agree with every jot and tittle to see the potential value of organic church (especially since the majority of descriptions of the church in the New Testament are organic and flexible).


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