The Growth of house churches has been on the rise in the US. Neil Cole, the author of the book Organic Church highlights the principles and the organizational structures of these churches. Organic churches come out clearly, as Cole’s long journey that entangles planting of what he refers to as “spontaneous multiplication movements, results in the emergence of numerous organic churches” (Cole 1). Precisely, organic churches are house churches. However, Cole seems to prefer referring them to as “organic churches” perhaps because he believes “organic churches” meet in more places compared to house churches (Cole 23). He also attempts to avoid the transfer of the connotation associated with the house churches in China to the United States.
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Overview of the book
In the introduction, Cole, argues, “there are many people in the United States who want to hear and believe in the message of Jesus Christ, although, they show no interest in the institution of the church” (Cole xxii). Also, he further progresses to explain the fate of the majority of the churches following the patterns of the western countries claiming that such churches are declining (Cole xxiii). According to him, the solution to the set-out problems squarely relies on the adoption and appreciation of the capacity of the organic churches to spread the gospel.
Purpose of the book
Cole purposes to advocate for a new evangelism approach: attraction model, which, rather than focusing on building bigger structures, decorating them and doing another thing, aims at making these structures look meticulous. People should channel such energy on taking the gospel closer to people. This is perhaps advocating for smaller worship groups, as opposed to the old congressional models of churches. He criticizes, “the seeker-sensitive model” (Cole 156) saying “let’s bring Christ to the people where they live” (Cole xxvi). He further claims, “If you want to win this world, you are going to have to sit in the smoking section” (Cole xxvii). One may declare these comments as Cole’s attempt to advise on the significance and the need of the church to move out to interact with sinners rather than waiting for the holy in selected worship buildings.
Major components of the book
The better part of the book describes the models of organic church, recalling the experience of Cole and reflecting on the necessary principles that church planters deserve to adopt. Cole, also, attempts to defend the principles that he voices by borrowing largely from the scriptures. Of all the chapters, chapter 12 qualifies as the most essential in giving a second glance.
In this chapter, Cole, considers a thorough description of the essential principles behind the organic church. The principles are “the practice of player finding receptive households, showing up, finding someone who can reach the entire household having people who have had gospel injected into their community rather than people drawn out of their community” (Cole 12). All these partly base on the gospels of Luke and Mathew reflecting on the author’s experience.
Strengths of the attraction model
From a different perspective, Cole’s model is commendable for its capacity to reflect the future organizations of churches of the future. He argues, “the greatest advantage of the organic church is that the regular Christians receive empowerment to do the work of the kingdom and are not waiting for professionals to do it for them” (Cole 56). In his model, the traditional church leaders shift their roles from leading the church to empowering regular Christians to do the tasks originally reserved for them.
Cole over-dwells on the theoretical perspectives of his model rather than its practicalities. However, his theoretical perspectives are significant since they base on the grounds of transparency, trust, values, communication among others. For cute performance and success of the future church, these fundamental virtues are inevitable. Opposed to traditional models, the organic church model aims at measuring growth by multiplication rather than additions. Multiplication is vital for reaching a wider group of people of deferring nationalities.
Weaknesses of attraction model
In his book, Organic Church, Cole introduces an attraction model that he alternatively terms as “the Jerusalem model of church” (Cole 29). One key drawback of the attraction model is that it costs so much in terms of buildings and hefty budgets, which amicably hinder the rapid multiplication of churches. Cole does not fail to recognize this fact. He comments, “the attraction model of church costs too much, in the end, one might wish to know whether it works” (Cole 50-51). This is a significant weakness since the multiplication of various units established requires the units to multiply themselves.
Application of the attraction model, how churches can implement it
The insights provided by the attraction model are resourceful in the application and the implementation of the model in the current churches. The application of this model includes the attempts to ensure the massive and worldwide spread of the gospel. For instance, one can see the distribution of free bibles by various missionaries as one of the attempts to deploy the concepts of the massive spread of the gospel to areas where it has not yet reached.
Also, churches which are still utilizing the congregational models may perhaps borrow from observations of Cole that “there are many people in the united states who want to hear and believe in the message of Jesus Christ showing no signs of interest in the institution of the church as it is” (Cole xxii). From this, they can consider involving all members of the congregation in the priesthood. However, the adoption of this model is subject to proof of the practicality of Cole’s theoretical perspectives of the attraction model.
One way to ensure the implementation of the model is through a scattering of friends and families, which vow to the teachings of Christ. Through scattering, the chances are that more local engagements will result. Secondly, one can implement this model by equipping the reproductive church followers instead of making attempts geared towards entertaining passive audiences of the church. Also, strategies are necessary that see more emphasis placed on power and word rather than the rules of the right doctrines. More prerequisites for considering spreading the gospel to places where Jesus Christ has not yet reached may help in reflecting on the multiplicity concerns of the attraction model.
Organic church aims at advocating for the incorporation of every Christian in leadership and priesthood as opposed to congressional models. It concerns itself with multiplications of the established unit rather than the expansion of existing units through the addition of numbers. The paper identifies a weakness in terms of high budgetary and building costs as a major drawback to rapid multiplication of worship units. However, by considering the theoretical leadership model advocated by Cole’s model of organic church, multiplication is necessary for the sake of the rapid spread of the gospel.
Cole, Neil. Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens. California, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005.