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A Missiorganic View of the Church

39473_119963051386333_5869470_n“Missiorganic”

It’s a strange word, I know, but bear with me. Some seek to define the Church by what it once was, others as by what it currently is, and some, by what it will be, or is becoming. I think that there’s a host of genuine conversations and questions that are being had and asked by those who are seeking to re-engage church. Of course, for those willing to risk and ask the hard questions, it can be a bit dangerous. Institutions whose very frameworks depend on their self-securing definitions, are threatened when those definitions and the accompanying assumptions are called into question. For that past 10 years or so, I’ve had what I would describe as a God-Directed Dissatisfaction with the status quo definitions of church.

 

In an effort to alleviate that dissatisfaction, I’ve gone through phases of retrofitting, retaining, restoring, reforming, restructuring, and much respiration. When the missional conversation started many years ago, I thought to myself “YES!” this is it. This is a framework by which I can adopt. To me;

THE MISSIONAL CHURCH IS… the people of God living with the sentiment of sent-ness acting in concert together in fulfillment of God’s Mission. Always engaging and discipling the nations (ethnic groups), proclaiming the message of the Godhead in word and deed, being collectively conformed to God’s image through facilitating interconnectedness between people and God, and abiding more and more in Christ.

Likewise, I think the Organic Church conversation began long ago. Initially it collided with my reformed ecclesiastical sensibilities. Amongst the people who held to this view of the church, there was quite a bit of bickering and axe grinding. I almost dismissed the idea entirely. But, for me;

THE ORGANIC CHURCH IS… unified indigenous gatherings shaped into their unique forms by learning how to live by Christ and express Him corporately, creatively, and continually. It’s a family on mission together, a living organism, a totally participatory, non-hierarchical, non-positional, mutually influential, and consensual people on a trajectory of the reconciliation of all things.

These definitions are not meant to be reductionistic, but simply “working definitions” by which we can begin a “missiorganic” conversation. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to take the best of both the missional and organic views and combine them. It’s been like trying to construct a super-collider. My friends in the missional church camp hold organic concepts at arm’s length or even outright reject them, and my organic church friends steer clear of what they perceive to be the programmatic, institutional, and overly structured missional machine.

So, if we were to take the above working definitions and combine them it might look something like this:

THE MISSIORGANIC CHURCH IS… the unified indigenous people of God living with the sentiment of sent-ness, acting in concert together in fulfillment of God’s Mission, and being shaped into their unique expressions by learning how to live by Christ and express Him corporately, creatively, and continually in that mission. It’s a living, totally participatory, non-hierarchical, non-positional, mutually influential, and consensual family on a Kingdom trajectory along with its King towards the proclamation of HIS message in word and deed, the conformation to God’s image through facilitating interconnectedness between people and God, and the abiding more and more in Christ toward the reconciliation of all things.

What do you think of the word “Missiorganic” and its definition as related to the church? If the church, by its very nature is both missional and organic, then shouldn’t it look that way? If you had to offer your own definition of the Missiorganic view of the church, what would it be?

By the way, it’s still a working definition.  I will update, revise, and hone this definition over time and post revision edits with dates below in the comment section. 

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    1. Gibby Espinoza August 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      While it can be assumed by the definition/description, we would be remiss if the term and importance of “incarnational” life were not part of the missiorganic definition and identity.

      • Miguel August 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

        You’re right Gibby. I was trying hard not to interject another buzz word. Where in the definition would you insert the idea of incarnationality?

        • Gibby Espinoza August 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

          Smack dab in the middle. :)

    2. CatherineS August 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      To be honest, I have the same problem with the Missiorganic definition that I have with the Missional: The mission is capitalized and given top billing while abiding in Christ is mentioned last. I could, however, accept — and even embrace — the Missiorganic statement if “acting in concert together in fulfillment of God’s [m]ission” was moved to the end of the definition, because I see fulfillment of God’s mission as a natural outcome of collectively being conformed to God’s image, learning to live by Christ and expressing Him corporately. But, of course, that’s probably my organic inclination speaking. :-)

      • Miguel August 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

        CatherineS,

        Thanks for commenting. I totally understand what you are saying. But here’s the catch; You can’t abide without action, or let me put it another way; You can’t be abiding without mission. If God is a missionary God, and mission is one of His attributes, then it must be primary in any definition of “church.” It would be very inorganic not to. The order of things, especially the way you pointed it out, is tenable, but I suppose that’s part of the conversation.

        • CatherineS August 17, 2013 at 10:12 am #

          And thus what I see as the difference between organic and missional views: Organic sees God as our Father desiring relationship, and the mission comes out of that relationship. Missional sees Him as a “missionary God” with Whom we also have a relationship. That may not sound very different, but I think it is.

          The best analogy I can think of is my marriage. My husband and I married and later desired to have children because of our love for and relationship with each other. We didn’t marry mainly so we could have children and with the expectation that we’d grow to love each other. In the first scenario our relationship is foremost and life comes from it. In the second the purpose of our marriage is to have children, that is what our energy and focus is on, and, although a relationship exists between us, it’s secondary.

          The scriptures begin and end with relationship with God, and Jesus Christ spent several years building relationships with those He later told to make disciples. I don’t believe God has drawn us to Himself mainly so we would then “breed” (make disciples), I believe He did that so we would know His love and love Him in return…and “children” (other disciples) would be born out of that love.

          Anyway, I understand what you’re saying, but I think it’s a little difficult to marry those two different views of God.

    3. Sondra August 23, 2013 at 2:07 am #

      My perspective of the Church as being simultaneously missional and relational is shaped by 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, where you see both characteristics expressed in their interdependence. In v18, God reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ (relational) and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (missional). Then in v19, I see Paul saying that the purpose of bringing us individually into relationship with God was in fact, a strategy for bringing the whole world into relationship with Him; and in that strategy, He gives us each the word/ministry of reconciliation.

      In Genesis, we see that man was created to be in loving relationship with God (relationship); but in Revelation, we see that the Lamb was slain BEFORE the foundation of the world (mission).

      I seeing an organic dimension of the Church as essential to bringing and sustaining people in relationship with God and one another through Christ; and/but then once/while in that relationship, our focus must be intentionally and aggressively missional, to bring others into that relationship. To that extent, I really like the word “missiorganic.” The term works well for me to keep both dynamics in view.

      However, what’s missing for me in the definition of the Missiorganic Church is the “Church” part — an explicit acknowledgement of Christ as Savior and Lord. Maybe it’s presumed, and we think it goes without saying; but without articulation of the distinctive of Jesus Christ as the agent of our redemption and our yieldedness to Him as Lord, I don’t think we have a Church.

      Thanks!

      • Miguel August 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

        Sondra, I think you’re right. I’ve added the word “redeemed” in the first sentence. Do you think it suffices?

        Gibby, I’ve also added the word “incarnationally” 4th line down.

        THE MISSIORGANIC CHURCH IS… the unified, redeemed, and indigenous people of God living with the sentiment of sent-ness, acting in concert together in fulfillment of God’s Mission, and being shaped into their unique expressions by learning how to live by Christ and express Him incarnationally, corporately, creatively, and continually in that mission. It’s a living, totally participatory, non-hierarchical, non-positional, mutually influential, and consensual family on a Kingdom trajectory along with its King towards the proclamation of HIS message in word and deed, the conformation to God’s image through facilitating interconnectedness between people and God, and the abiding more and more in Christ toward the reconciliation of all things.

    4. Sondra August 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Whew! It’s hard to fit it all into a neat package, isn’t it? Thank you for adding the concepts of being redeemed and expressing Christ incarnationally. A couple of remaining questions for me:

      Please explain more about “indigenous.” I’m not understanding that. And how does the concept of “non-positional” square with ascension gifts of Ephesians 4:11-16, and the analogy of the Church in 1 Corinthians 12:13ff as a body with members having different functions?

      • Miguel August 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

        Sondra,

        While I’ve heard the term “ascension gifts” previously, it took me by surprise in your comment. But, I think it speaks well to my point. The Ephesians 4 giftings are not to ascend, they’re to integrate. Ascending implies and upward positional hierarchy.

        As to indigenous, it refers more to the local church. Basically stating that the local church doesn’t have to express itself anything like your foreign context.

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