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Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens Hardcover – September 8, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...for Christians who are asking deep questions."  (Church Times, Friday 21st December 2007)


"This book is profound, practical, and a pleasure to read. It stretches our thinking and brings us to a place where we can see the Kingdom of God spread across the world in our generation. This book has come at the right time."
--John C. Maxwell, founder, INJOY, INJOY Stewardship Services and EQUIP

"My life is about seeing hundredfold results. Neil Cole’s approach helps get those kinds of results for churches by planting many new expressions of the Kingdom that reach thousands of people. One of the great joys of my life for the past six years has been to watch the dramatic growth of Awakening Chapels and the organic churches described in this work. Cole’s new book tell not only the inspiring story but also describes the principles, so you can apply these ideas."
--Bob Buford, founder and chairman, Leadership Network; author, Halftime and Finishing Well

"I always listen when Neil Cole speaks. His breadth of understanding and practice of what he preaches is right on. Everyone should know or be aware of this guy that God is using in a powerful way."
--Bob Roberts, senior pastor, NorthWood Church, Keller, Texas

"Neil Cole is one of the foremost thinkers and practitioners organic forms of church. His vision of the church is as new as it is ancient. Cole’s story as well as the philosophy of Church Multiplication Associates is paradigmatic for the church as it seeks to negotiate its way faithfully into the twenty-first century."
--Alan Hirsch, director, Forge Mission Training Network, church planter; author, The Shaping of Things to Come

"In an age where millions are saying ‘God yes, church no!’ most of us instinctively feel that church as we know it prevents church as God wants it. But where, exactly, is the catch? Where do we go from here? Neil Cole expertly places a thrilling invitation before us to join probably the most exciting spiritual pilgrimage going on today: the global migration of a church on the way back home. Come and dial in!"
--Wolfgang Simson, author, Houses that Change the World 

"Church multiplication is not likely to be the province of ivory tower theoreticians! In Organic Church  Neil Cole helps us to understand that church multiplication is never going to be a spectator sport. This is hands down the most useful and comprehensive book currently available to understanding the rapidly growing expressions of simple, organic church life around the world."
--Dr. N. A. (Tony) Dale, editor, House 2 House Magazine 

"I heartily recommend this book. It is packed with deep insights; you will find no fluff in it. Among the books on church planting, it offers a rare combination of attributes: it is biblical and well written, its model has proven effective, and it is authored by a practitioner rather than an observer or an ivory-tower theoretician."
--Curtis Sergeant, directory of church planting, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California

"It is a great joy to recommend Neil Cole’s  Organic Church. The stories and experiences in this book will encourage many to follow the Holy Spirit and go where God is leading. Neil Cole is a true pioneer in the faith and a man of great vision who has chosen to live out the things that God has poured into him. I believe this book will ignite hearts to live out their faith in organic communities across the country and around the world."
--Rev. Michael Steele, North American director, Dawn Ministries

"Neil Cole is a true trailblazer for today’s church.  His story will inspire you and equip you to experience the living Christ in community."
--Jonathan S. Campbell Ph.D., author, The Way of Jesus


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078798129X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787981297
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the most practical book on starting new churches I have found to date. Neil looks at the basic DNA of the church--what Jesus intended church to be and to become. The answer for the church to become relevant in the current culture and impact the future is to get back to the ancient model that the first believers adopted. It is simple, reproducable, and transferable across any culture. A blueprint for Church the way it was menat to be.

After reading George Barna's "Revolution", Reggie McNeal's "The Present Future", and Tony and Felicity Dale's "Simply Church" I am convinced that the traditional church model in America is not "getting the job done", and will increasingly have less and less impact on the culture. I say this as a 20+ veteran of local church ministry. What we have created is NOT what Jesus had in mind.

Neil Cole gives a very practical guide that is easy to follow if we have the courage. Without the need to invest huge amounts of money in buildings and paid professional staff, churches will be able to use their financail gifts to do practical ministray and need-meeting in their communities and around the world.

I highly recommend this book. I feel in many ways it points to the solution for the problems with the Western church. The original model of church life which was inaugurated in the 1st century will become the most effective model for church multiplication in the 21st century. A MUST READ for anyone serious about planting healthy, growing and reproducing churches.
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Format: Hardcover
Neil Cole sees something that many of us see. The church is shrinking and in trouble. The way we do church now, for the most part, is not growing God's kingdom in any significant way. We are wrapped up in programs and neglecting people. What should we do?

Cole suggests that we take a more "organic" approach to church. Go to the places and people who need Jesus the most, minister to them, and plant churches right there in their homes, parking lots, coffee shop hang outs, and wherever people gather. When someone comes to Christ empower them to go and start their own church in their own sphere of influence. We should reject the traditional church with its building, pastor who does ministry for the congregation, and inward looking approach to ministry.

Cole convinced me of the problem, but his solution is throwing the baby out with the bath water. He had plenty of biblical proof for the existence and proliferation of New Testament churches meeting in homes and other small group venues, but he shrugged off defending his thesis against the problems of putting new believers into leadership too soon, and protecting his new churches from bad doctrine. He mentions these problems, but gives glib answers that did not interact deeply with the major problems his approach brings to church planting.

I am glad to have read this book to get a new perspective from a man who obviously loves the Lord and is thinking outside the box about how to reach the lost. It convinced me of the power of small groups, and the biblical idea that we should empower all Christians to minister to the people they have the most influence over without holding them back by too rigid a church hierarchy.
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Format: Hardcover
As other reviews have stated this book lays out some basic principles of the simple church movement which Neil Cole is a part of. We read this book as a part of a leadership discussion/discipleship group of our church. We were all challenged.

Neil Cole does a great job of addressing the problems of the current church structure without being so negative as to discourage those of us who are still involved in "traditional" churches. He then gives the blueprint (DNA) for how the movement he helped begin has made disciples and reproduced so many times that he can't keep track of it.

The strengths of this book are the amazing way that disciples are made and transformed into leaders so quickly. This really looks like the Bible! Secondly, the missional focus of Neil Cole and his group is truly the root of all the multiplication. There mission and built in DNA is to reproduce themselves and this helps prevent stagnant groups to develop. Thirdly he has a great chapter on the mistakes they made and how to deal with failure. Up until that point it almost seems like everything goes perfect but this chapter gives a clear clue to the fact that they were so dedicated to reaching the harvest that they were willing to "fall with style" rather than not try anything at all.

The results speak for themselves. Read this book to get challenged to get out of your comfort zone and to allow your mind and heart to see that the Church of Jesus is more than you ever thought it could be!
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Format: Hardcover
I could not tell from reading this book the extent to which Neil Cole is really a practitioner of organic church planting or if he is mainly a writer for Leadership Network resources.

I loved the model of evangelism ministry and I embrace the let-the-spirit-lead-where-he-may approach described in "Organic Church." But amid all the tales-from-the-trenches, Cole never really gets explicit about what exactly they are doing and what exactly is transpiring in the 800-and-then-lost-count churches planted through this work.

I also wish he would have said something about the background/tradition of those working in this ministry, as it would help contextualize what we read. He certainly is not mysterious about his present Leadership Network association. On the one hand he says he doesn't want to lay out a play-book because it is important for organic church plants to be original, but on the other he goes into specifics about what Leadership Network resources they employ. Hmmm.

Through the whole book it just seems like there is a pattern of selectively telling some things while not telling other things. When I worked in politics we called that "spin." I could not help the feeling that something was either being sanitized or exaggerated because of the narrative gaps.

All that said, I would jump at the chance to spend about six months with this crowd, doing what they do. I have NO disagreement with the ideas in the book, and I actually encourage anyone passionate for the Kingdom of God to buy it, read it, and pass it on.

It just seems under-edited and outside of the normal accountability expectations for published work.
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