Featured Guest Review: Q&A with Neil Cole, author of Church Transfusion: Changing Your Church Organically--From the Inside Out
Q. Why is the organic church movement still so important?
A. Christianity is still fraught with pollutants. If we do not purify the people of God from the institutions of men that keep them encased in artificial mechanisms, then we will never be able to see transformation of neighborhoods and nations with the power of the Gospel.
Q. What would you say is at the heart of the organic church movement?
A. We have always declared that the heart of the organic church movement, indeed all of church, is what we call the DNA of the body of Christ. For us the DNA stands for Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships and Apostolic Mission. So at the very raw center of our movement is love and how we relate to God, one another and the world around us.
Q. What’s the most crucial ingredient for a traditional congregation that wants to make the move toward being more organic?
A. The way you lead in a man-made, top-down organization and the way you catalyze the outward spread of influence in a movement are not only different but are actually polar opposites. Everything the leader has learned to date about how to succeed in the institution must be questioned and replaced with a new sense of identity and practice. We have devoted several chapters to this topic.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to pastors and congregations that are drawn to an organic church model?
1) Don’t try to change a church corporately with a program. Implementation of real change must come from the heart of the disciples not the staff offices or a pulpit.
2) Allow a new pilot project on the side to thrive and let that group of people have contagious influence over the rest of the church. Protect it from the people who will see it as a threat.
3) Start with planting the Good News of Christ’s DNA in a few disciples that will make more. Let the health of a few drive the change rather than a top-down approach that never really infiltrates the hearts of the disciples.
Q. If church leaders only did one thing to receive the transfusion you talk about in your book, what would that be?
A. Death: to yourself as a leader, and for the church. Yikes, does that sound too harsh? Well, if it does, that is only an indication of how far removed we actually are from the Gospel. We are supposed to be a people for whom death has no sting, the fact that it is so feared and threatening is a symptom of a very serious problem. Jesus clearly said that if we cling to our lives we will lose them and if we lose them for the Gospel’s sake we will gain them. We believe this applies to us as individuals and as ecclesia.
From the Inside Flap
Many churches are striving to turn things around, to be more relevant, and to have a greater impact on the lives and communities around them. They look for a new program, better staff, a different worship style, or updated strategy, but find that these changes only seem to increase costs and frustration levels. Just as our life is in our blood, the life for Christ's body is in His blood. Changing a church is more than setting a new goal or direction. Churches need more than an organizational transition; they need a full transfusion of Jesus' bloodHis lifewithin every disciple. Anything less will perpetuate more of the dysfunction and unhealthy church practices that have already plagued them for too long. In short, churches need the DNA of Jesus' lifeblood. Church Transfusion will help leaders of any church to discover how to release a healthy missional DNA into the hearts of its disciples.
In Church Transfusion, Neil Cole (author of Organic Church, Church 3.0, andJourneys to Significance) and his coauthor and ministry partner, Phil Helfer, first point out that change is possible with God, presenting many different examples of churches that have experienced this kind of life-giving transfusion. The second half of the book lays out some of the practical considerations for those who want to release real organic health within their churches.
Where Cole's Church 3.0 painted a broad picture of organic movements, Church Transfusion gives practical help to transfuse health and life so that a church can enter into the rapid movement that God is unleashing. The content will be helpful whether you are pastor of an established church or wanting to revitalize a network of small organic churches. Church Transfusion is a powerful, practical, and creative follow-up to the bestselling Organic Church.