Frank Viola has two recent posts (here and here) on the Out of Ur blog. They are meant to be read together, and the bottom line is that he sees the "postchurch perspective" as unbiblical, unsustainable, and not genuine Christianity. In the first post, he says that "postchurch" is "built on the premise that institutional forms of church are ineffective, unbiblical, unworkable, and in some cases, dangerous. Institutionalization is not compatible with ekklesia" and ""any semblance of organization whatsoever . . . any semblance of leadership...is wrong and oppressive. Church is simply when two or three believers gather together in any format. Whenever this happens, church occurs." In the second article, he applies 6 characteristics of NT churches to "postchurches" and sees that postchurches fail all 6.
Viola has a very specific, NT idea of church (of ekklesia, the greek word for "church") in mind when he writes these articles. His ideal concept of church is an "organic" church. He writes, "By "organic church," I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. Put another way, organic church life is the "experience" of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it's the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings."
In my opinion, the COEC is a very "organic" group of people, and we experience God in a variety of ways and settings. However, I would not say we are a church either. Are we "postchurch?" I'm not sure (mainly because I don't accept Viola's definitions as comprehensive).
Frank has also posted on his blog that "Some of the comments on the blog confirm my instincts to write this article, as a great deal of confusion abounds among those who have left institutional Christianity and have opted for “the convenient substitute” rather than the organic expression of the body of Christ." I think it would be interesting to get feedback from our cohort.
Are we "postchurch" or "organic"? Are these the same? Are there areas that Viola is missing?
Other thoughts? Post here, or on the Out of Ur blog.
Songs of Lament and Hope
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