"Sometimes we focus so much on building a 'healthy church' that we forget to tend to the health of people." - Joe Myers, Organic Community
In the short, 3 year history of our little pub church, I've put only two books in the hands of our elders (I need to do more of this, but...). They were Men and Women in the Church by Sarah Sumner and Doug Pagitt's Reimagining Spiritual Formation (now retitled Reimagining Church). After diving into this last night I think I found the third.
Yesterday I received for review and already read about half of Joe Myers' Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect . His book The Search to Belong was
nothing less than a complete paradigm shift for me in the way that I viewed community and relationships both inside and outside of the church. So... I've been looking forward to this one for awhile.
"When planning for organic community, the question that will move us forward is 'What are we hoping for?' not 'Where are we headed?'"- Joe Myers
I won't get too deep into the book in this post, other than to highly recommend it. I started it last night and am already half-way through, and while not the monster mind-blower of his last one (though it may yet prove to be so) I am already thankful for the thinking it has stirred up in me. I feel like books that prompt me not only to hear and absorb what the author is saying, but prove to be a catalyst for further thought about my community, my ministry are few and far between (at least for me, in this stage of life) so when they come along, I like to recommend them.
A big part of the reason I want to get this into the hands of my elders is that in the early years of evergreen, I was the one pushing/describing/imagining what "organic! non-programmatic!" ministry could be. We had a lot of talks about that as we moved from church of the mind to church of reality. But over the last couple of years, as we've grown, our discussions, both as a community and as elders have tended towards the more practical, less theoretical issues of people and decision-making and the day to day ins and outs of community life. It's been a while since we circled back and focused again on the theoretical underpinnings of simple, organic community. It's probably time, and I think this book will be an excellent catalyst for it.
Myers is a great apologist for the way we are doing church, and what he's advocating, though certainly more easily appropriated in a smaller setting, isn't just for small churches. What he's talking about will push you towards some ways of doing things and away from others, but as with his last book, everyone from big church people to house church people would do well to wrap their heads around what organic ministry means.
His chapter on Participation and how and why people choose to participate is alone worth the price of admission for this book. He details where most "recruiting" in church goes wrong, why people resist it, and the real question you need to be prepared to answer when inviting people to participate in something.
There's a lot of thought that's stirring in me through this and I'll post more soon (I really need to STOP saying that and start doing it, I know...)
Check it out- it's cheap on Amazon- only $11