Organic Church Movements Conference 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Organic Church Movements Conference this past weekend. Let me share some of the highlights for me – and then I’ll add some quotes from different speakers that I’m still thinking about.

  • It was great to hang out with my friend Bob Hudson. Bob was the youth pastor at Lake Hills Church (the church I planted in Castaic). He went out to start a house church three years ago. He invited me to the conference and we got to spend a lot of time together – especially on the incredibly long drive to get there in Friday afternoon traffic.
  • It was cool to hear Deb Hirsch speak. I met Alan and Deb awhile ago. We had dinner together last Monday night, but I’d never heard her speak. It was excellent. I posted on this yesterday.
  • My friend Hugh Halter did a workshop that I didn’t get to, so I ordered the cd. Hugh now helps direct Missio and a local network of missional communities in Denver. Hugh and Matt Smay have written a new book coming out soon called The Tangible Kingdom. I’m looking forward to reading it.
  • I was really stretched in my understanding of the 5-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11. I’ve had a fairly limited exposure to the functions of Apostle and Prophet. Neil Cole, Wolfgang Simson and Alan Hirsch did a workshop together that was remarkable. It was good to hear a new perspective and to begin to process what I heard. I may post on this after I’ve reflected a bit more.
  • I enjoyed lunch with Brad Fieldhouse. He’s in Long Beach and leads Kingdom Causes. They are doing some incredible ministry toward city transformation. Brad also does training with CMA for their Greenhouses. I am looking forward to spending more time with Brad.
  • My best friend since Jr. High was at the conference with his wife and kids. Paul is co-founder of the Organic church Planter’s Greenhouse and has influenced 100s of churches being planted throughout the U.S. and worldwide. I love spending time with Paul. He is an amazing thinker and passionate about developing leaders.
  • I also connected again with Ross Rhode who is facilitating organic movements in Northern California. We took a class together at BGU two years ago when he was serving as a missionary in Spain. His stories and perspective were very helpful, too.
  • I met lots of people and had good conversations with Phil Helfer, Joseph Cartwright, Mike Taron, Andy Gilbert. Daniel Curran, Clive Craigen, Traver Dougherty, Ed Waken, Mike Jentes, and Phil and Cheryl Kingsley. It was also good to see Robert Caldwell and Greg Getz who are both part of the Missionary Church.

Well, here are some quotes I’m pondering

Deb Hirsch (serving the marginalized—from Australia)

  • “To understand God’s heart for the city, we need to go where the city is experiencing pain.”
  • “Money has the capacity to ensnare more than anything else .For Western Christians, money is our greatest blind spot.”
  • Prayer: “Open the doors of our homes and our hearts to the marginalized!”

Matt Casper (committed but open-minded atheist)

  • “I don’t think Jesus was crazy. Jesus had it right. He is one of my favorite philosophers. I like Jesus. I just don’t believe in Him.”
  • “What is it like visiting a church? Have you ever visited a mosque alone?”
  • “Why do you do this when Jesus says do that?”
  • Describing his response to a coworker who asked him if he were to die on his way home if he’d go to heaven: “That’s the laziest approach you could take to saving someone. It was a hand-fisted grab for my soul.”
  • Asked how he might go about starting a church: “I would just do something for the community, and then when people asked ‘why?’—I would say, ‘I am a follower of Jesus, do you want to join us?’ I wouldn’t go around telling people they are going to hell.”

Wolfgang Simson (author of Houses that Change the World)

  • “It’s one thing to get out of the [Christendom] system; it’s another thing to get the system out of you.”
  • “We are not as organic as we think we are.”
  • “It’s not about church, stupid. It’s about the kingdom.”
  • “Consumerism is at the core of the American church.”
  • “You have no right to pay for someone to meet your spiritual needs.”
  • “A new believer in India and Bangladesh in six months becomes a church planter. In the U.S., five years later people still can’t feed themselves.”
  • “The biggest enemy of long-term fruit is short-term fruit.”
  • “Evangelistic prevalence can prevent apostolic ministry.”
  • “The last frontier of missions is the West.”

Neil Cole (author of Organic Church)

  • “It’s all about Jesus from start to finish.”
  • “The gifts are not given to you; they are given through you to the Body.”
  • “When will Christ be enough for you?”
  • “We think we need to give information and there’s never enough information because we never know enough. We don’t need to know more information; we need to know Jesus and obey Jesus.”
  • “Jesus said, ‘I will build my church’ not ‘go start churches.’ He said ‘make disciples’ and He is building His church.”

Alan Hirsch (author of The Forgotten Ways)

  • “The problem with the Western church is tons of converts, but not disciples.”
  • “If you take the apostolic gifting out [of the church], you can’t have movements.”
  • “The way we see the organization of the church is significant. If your ‘idea of church’ is to become a mega-church, you have to have a top-down management system. It has to be run like a corporation.”
  • “We need the poor more than they need us.”
  • “We learn best when we are out of our comfort zones.”
  • “A New Zealand survey revealed: 80% of students exiting church youth groups ‘lost their faith’ within one year of graduating to university. They were developed in an artificial environment. They were never allowed to learn how to be disciples in the world.”
  • “Being a missionary church means saying ‘No’ to the status quo.”

I realize that I have so much to learn. I am so grateful for those who have gone before me in the journey and are willing to share what they have learned. I have lots to ponder. My prayer is that God will use me however He wants to facilitate lots of organic churches all over the place.

Here’s a final thought from my friend Ross
“If Jesus tells you to do it, do it. It’s not about technique.

It’s about following Jesus. Follow the Lord of the Harvest into the harvest.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
3 replies
  1. DougL
    DougL says:

    Thanks for sharing a few of your observations from the conference. Press on along these lines brother! And share widely. There are many of us who are feeling compelled to re-examine Christ and His calling/commissioning, and address the realities of our society in new and meaningful ways.

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