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Interesting Comparison…


The link above is to an article written for Leadership Journal. It is a must read for any serious missiological student. This article is a joint interview between Neil Cole and Ed Young, Jr. It’s about a 15 minute read.

I would love to hear from any who actually read the article. What do you think? Which approach to missionality is closer to Scripture? Which is more practical? Which is more reproducible? Which is more focused on Jesus?

Frankly, I think this article reflects a tremendous shift in Western missiology.


4 Responses

  1. Very interesting article. There is a shift in our culture, but I wonder if the shift has many branches, or expressions. What I mean is, I’m not sure if the entire makeup of Christianity will switch to entirely house churches, whether that’s the best thing for them or not. With postmodernism becoming more ingrained (simply by people being born), the search for authenticity and accessibility could make more organic churches the church of choice. Still, the individualism and consumerism in our country is so rampant, that some sort of attractionalism will always be valid. Of course, the Depression could change things, I don’t know.

    Which approach to missionality is closer to Scripture?

    Organic, in both its doxy and praxis. Whether its the kingdom parable of the mustard seed (page 2) or in simply “going” and proclaiming Jesus, organic missionality is very simplified, cut free from all the fat, and incarnational. Of course, many people in our culture still like the fat, so that’s something we must continue to consider. Also, if “missionality” can be thought of as “doing what it takes to share Jesus” then attractional churches are doing well. However, I fear that they are more pragmatic than anything else, and that the more “stuff” you do, the more the “stuff” gets in the way of what is real.

    Which is more practical?

    Organic is more practical because, being so simply and decentralized, it can easy go into the environments where non-Christians are; it forces us to live in the everyday where there is no sacred-secular riff.

    Which is more reproducible?

    In an organic approach, people are much more empowered (they have to do the ministry themselves, no staff to fall back on), When you don’t need a bunch of context-specific programs or leaders to tell you what to do, there is a definite advantage. The Gospel is simple and transferable, but a multi-legged addiction recovery ministry (as important as that is to a community) is not easily reproducible.

    Which is more focused on Jesus?

    I think the organic model has to be. There’s nothing flashy and professional about. It relies a lot more on simple people simply sharing the simple message of Jesus. I thought Neil’s Shelf of Shame is an excellent idea. It keeps us humble and reliant on God for progress. He also spoke of how being “unpaid” tended to weed out the ministers that were really there for a pay check.

    Something I’m planning to post real soon, is that worship music hinders that which is organic, particularly with the goal of achieving ethnic integration in a church. Music is so personal and taste-specific, that it can easily divide us from others. Since music is personal…. maybe it’s best we leave it at… home. Anyways, I won’t go into that now. I’m just wondering how music plays into the attractional model, and how music is counterintuitive to it.

  2. I agree with the “many branches” thought. I certainly don’t think “house church” per se is the only or right way. It works for us, and millions of others, but it is not the ANSWER. Jesus is the answer, and He is active in His creation. I really think this renewal is more about the way we think about stuff at the core, rather than just a “new” way of doing stuff.

    I’ll try to explain:

    This renewal is taking us back to the beginning. Jesus. The church He started and built. We are being stripped of unnecessary baggage and Jesus is claiming what is rightfully His again. I am convinced, however, that how we live out body life is inextricably connected to what we beleive about the person of Jesus.

    Christology determines our Missiology which, when combined, determines our Ecclesiology. Yet, too many churches of the West start with their Ecclesiology first, which then informs their Missiology, which ultimately determines their Christology.

    So, we must begin with who Jesus is, what He did, and what He taught and commanded. Then, we are able to join with Him in His mission of redeeming His creation. Finally, our corporate understanding and outworking will begin to function according to Jesus’ orginal, organic design. Thus, Jesus actually builds His church rather than us!! Again, this will “look” like what He wants it to look like, rather than any of our cookie-cutter, predetermined plans. We just obey Him. What follows is His business.

    I’ll wait to see what you have to say about music. I think it will be interesting, because I already “partly” agree with you on it.


  3. In very simple terms, I see how an attractional enterprise becomes self-promoting.

    We invite people to church, so they can learn about Jesus, so they can invite people to church, to learn about Jesus, to invite people to church.

    Because Jesus is a hard sale, we invent “pre-evangelical” reasons to come to church or a church program or event — anything more attractive. (They’ll learn about Jesus later).

    The problem with the style Cole explains in the article is that he excludes the gospel being broadcast from one person to another without a personal relationship. In essence, this is how Young’s model works.

    Cole asserts that interpersonal evangelism spreads the gospel in a way that causes the disciple to imprint and depend on Christ, but that may happen often after the person rejects the carrier. Young’s style on the other hand has the potential to reach a person who never forms an interpersonal relationship. Instead, he is reached through programs. Cole asserts that such a person is becomes dependent on the church, imprints on the pastor, and becomes passive. This assertion denies the possibility that the person rejects the institutional church but retains their faith. It seems to me that it is at least just as likely that a person who rejects a church retains their faith than one who rejects a person.

    The real problem with Young’s model is that it is necessarily self-promotional. The problem with Cole’s is that it is self-destructive, perhaps because he doesn’t mention the Amway mothership.

    I cannot say for Cole whether there is an Amway mothership. I am sure he would prefer to think that only Christ is behind the network, and for him it may be. But if it is true, and he is just one man (or is it one and a half?) then how has he laboured more abundantly than anyone in Christ? How is he remarkable in any way?

    As long as the organic ecclesiology and missiological renewal babble is is just renewing the way the church enterprise self-promotes, it will reach some of the niche Cole is targeting — those who are unlikely to find any attraction to the institutional church.

    From the scriptures, the gospel was spread in a very inorganic way. About half the new testament and easily the bulk of gospel preaching in length is done by a man who asserts his interpersonal independence from the other apostles. Who wrote, “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called [me] by his grace,
    To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.”

    Paul did not start his own religion as distinct from the apostles’ (which is not the apostles’ but Christ’s), but he never in my estimation had close relations to them, niether do I think he was ever particularly influenced by them, save perhaps Stephen who could not have possibly known it.

    I don’t think Paul divided himself from the other apostles’ ministry — he quite clearly acknowledges their authority on several occasions and vice versa — but I do not think he was satisifed with it.

    I think James and Peter would have described Paul the same way Young would had Paul visited his church — he would have (like the article title) “Come and gone.”

    The body is characteristically organic in some ways, but not exclusively so. It is built of lively stones — both the organic and inorganic. The temple is built not when one stone shapes and forms an adjacent stone, but when the builder places it.

  4. Ben, I guess I am somewhat confused by your statements. I take it that you disagree with both Neil and Ed? I can say, because I have read many other things by him and heard him speak, that Neil does rely heavily on interpersonal relationships for the spreading of the Gospel message. I am not sure how Ed works.

    I honestly think there is room in the Kingdom for both. I certainly lean more toward the “organic” approach, but that doesn’t make it “right”. I think Paul would have stepped into either situtation for the furtherance of the Gospel.

    As far as furthering a deeper discipleship in the follower of Jesus, I think Neil has found a VERY effective way of helping people follow the Builder of the church, Jesus. I don’t know what Ed has developed within his setting.

    That’s my two cents so far, please weigh in all who are reading.


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