So far we have examined the Emergent and Incarnational Movements. Today we examine the Organic movement.

The Organic Movement

The Organic movement is a kissing cousin to the Incarnational movement and a distant cousin to the Emergent movement. Compared to the other two movements it sees little to no need for the institutional church. But unlike the Emergent movement, and more like the Incarnationals, the Organics are more literal in their interpretation of Scripture and truth.

Although there are several voices for the Organic movement the most prominent voice is Frank Viola, who wrote two books on the subject, Pagan Christianity (co-authored with George Barna) and Reimagining Church. (His third book, Finding Organic Church, isn’t on the same plane as his first two books). The first two books are meticulous, interesting, and disturbing looks at the New Testament understanding of the early church and how it compares to Western Christianity.

Although Viola reacts against all forms of the institutional church, he stands in direct opposition to the Emergent folks because he takes a literal approach to the Scripture. His books document the problems with the institutional church that functions more like a business than the living organism it was created to be.  His major criticisms of today’s church, other than it being totally non-biblical, is its passivity and elitism. I should stress here that if Viola’s work does nothing more than awaken the church to these two sins, his books have done their job.

Viola feels that most of the practices of modern-day Christianity are totally foreign to Scripture and are lethal to the development of the kingdom of God. Every church leader ought to read his books and respond to their criticism of modern-day Christianity. I agree with most of his argument. It’s his conclusion I disagree with. Whereas I agree the present form of Christianity isn’t biblical and needs to be trashed, I question whether what he suggests can survive, much less thrive within our institutional context. So I’m not ready to give up on the institutional church even though I’ve been a constructive critic of it for more than three decades.

Question: In your opinion, what are the positive and negative aspects of the Organic movement? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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