Organic over canned. Dialogue over doctrine. Poetry over creeds. Fluidity over structure. Spirituality over programs. Practical over abstract. Inclusive over exclusive. Fun over formal. Joyfulness over sullenness. Visual over wordy. Real over flowery. Open over reclusive. People over buildings. Present over past. Doable over theoretical. Interactive over cloistered. Circles over rectangles. Pentecostal over contrived. Chairs over pews. Comprehensive over lectionary. Movement over stagnation. Contextual over universal. Passion over solemness. Invitation over coercion. Nonviolent over harmful. Loving over distant. Justice over inequity. Mutuality over hierarchy. Now over later. Swivel chairs over large pulpits. Cultural competence over cultural imperialism. Tossed salad over melting pot. Navigating ambiguity over forcing certainty. Bible discussions over Bible classes. Restorative justice over condemning judgment. Artistic expression over barren staleness. Local engagement over systemic outrage. Communal salvation over individual salvation. Facilitative leadership over dictatorial CEO-ship. Relational church over mega church. Holistic mission over limited engagement. Diverse music over singular genre. Varied liturgies over repetitive liturgies. Spiritual groups over work committees. Youth engagement over youth estrangement. Brain-storming over narrow-mindedness. Revolving power over stationary power. Dynamic verbs over static nouns. Creation-centered over Creation-excluded. Townhall meetings over monologue speeches. Modern-yet-ancient over contemporary-yet-1980s. Celebration-through-lament over suffering-through-masking. Theologian-of-all-believers over pontifications-from-on-high. Etc.
This "organic church manifesto" has radical implications for the Church. It calls for revolutionary change and deep reformation. How far do we take these ideas? A.N. Whitehead seems to speak to this question: "[Churches] require some element of novelty to relieve their massive inheritance from a bygone system. Order is not sufficient. What is required, is something much more complex. It is order entering upon novelty; so that the masses of order does not degenerate into mere repetition; and so that the novelty is always reflected upon a background of system…The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.” Whitehead suggests that we need both order and change; tradition and reformation; roots and wings. Combining established tradition with revolutionary change is difficult work. It requires that we move ahead carefully, prayerfully, and collaboratively. Together we must discern the best way to move forward so can effectively and relevantly be the Church in the postmodern world.
These organic elements will all come to fruition differently in each location. It's all contextual. And it will all look different based on a community's needs, cultures, and spiritualities. Here are some examples of people who are applying these revolutionary ideas in their communities, all-the-while staying rooted in the traditions of the wider Church: Holden Village, Iona Community, Liberation Christian Church, Saint Brendan's Celtic Community, Saint Gregory's Church, Trinity UCC, Saint Sabina, House For All, Solomon's Porch, Vintage Faith, Jacob's Well, Church of the Apostles, and the Taize Community. There are also many house churches that are doing some amazing ministry. Hopefully these creative communities continue to grow and thrive!