JohnSWilson3 Blog

Learning to put off the old man in organic church life
October 24, 2010, 2:33 am
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

I have to say I’m not really sure how to approach this topic since putting off the old man tends to sound negative, but to be truthful, while learning organic church life there has been great blessing but there has been a cost involved. But we have found that the cost of putting off the old man is actually a needed thing because it allows the body to put on Christ. Putting off the old man has dealt some death blows to a lot of selfishness and pride in many in our group. Christ is not yet done. In other cases it has caused others to no longer share life with us.

I do not plan to share all of the gore of what has happened the past year or so that we have been together since attending the “Organic Church Life Conference” in Houston, TX, that would really be insensitive to our brothers and sisters. Learning to live by Christ’s life in an organic way is very difficult for those who come from the institutional church, me included. Most leaving the institutional church to an “organic” church environment have a lot of religious baggage and we oftentimes don’t even know we are carrying it. Our group is still detoxing even after a year of gathering. While we have been gathering for just over a year we have still yet to really move beyond a once a week gathering. We have yet to see “everyday they continued to meet together” due mainly to the distance that we are from one another. We desire to be together and so the travel to meet at least once a week has been one of our main sacrifices we have given for one another. We have tended instead to meet in smaller groups in an even more informal setting every so often, some time during the week, mainly in just spending time together in various “family” settings. Organic church life is really like being in a family, a place where you are free to share life with others in authenticity with no masks.

Getting to where we are now has been necessary in how Christ is knitting us together as a body. A brother on facebook asked about some of the challenges that we have had in our group and I guess this is the reason for this post to my blog. Here are some of my thoughts that I shared with him that gets to what I have been trying to say:

“…whenever we meet it generally is different every time. Sometimes it is just a time of sharing, others a time of singing. Many times it is sharing, singing and serving one another in various ways. Sometimes we are meeting in a home together or at a park or at a restaurant. it depends.

“We’ve had some families straight out of the institutional church and they bring their baggage of expectations with them, not understanding how to share relationally, and not listening to Christ and responding as He leads (of course all of us are still learning this, lol). We’ve also had some who had refused to listen to the brethren on a number of occasions because they were controlling the body life and even refused to listen to the body; was very distressful. So yeah, we have lost three families in this past year of learning to gather organically.

“In flow of spiritual gifts I’d have to say yes and no, it depends. Gathering as a body means gathering like a family, God’s family, so most of us have a big focus on getting to know one another really well. Where there is genuine love and trust, freedom to share with each other, I have to say the gifts in the body seem to flow organically, when something is amiss in the group it is spiritually noticeable, the focus has moved away from Christ, this too we are still learning.

“Learning to bear our crosses, dieing to ourselves, is of primary importance to the Lord if we are ever to live organically. Learning to live by Christ’s life is a challenge and at the same time immensely satisfying! We desire His fullness.”

A sister asked something similar and this was my response to her to add to what I just shared:

“Our group met at Milt and Frank’s “Organic Church Life Conference” in Houston last summer and started following the part 3 of Finding Organic Church. We did some of it, read it together in the group and discussed some of it. Most in the group have read Frank’s as well as many others, such as Watchman Nee, T. Austin Sparks, Alan Hirsch, Milt Rodriguez (Franks church planting associate), etc. But we have only read the part 3 of Frank’s in the group. Our group tends to like more spontaneity than reading a book (although I don’t mind, since I’m a reader, lol). Sometimes I’m the one who shares from what I’ve read in the book as a result, lol. We have used MP3 audios and notes from the meetings we had as a reminder from time to time. Most of our focus has been getting to know one another, learning about each other, etc. Through this the Lord often leads us to pray for one another, sing together, search the Scriptures, speaking words of encouragement to one another, etc. We want Christ as Head and it has been a learning process, eg. putting off the old man, bearing with one another in love with all patience, and putting on Christ.”

As we learn to live by Christ’s life together everyone has grown spiritually in a tremendous way! And while it has not all been “fun” it has been completely worthwhile and He has given us blessing upon blessing. I know that my own wife’s spiritual life with Christ has grown amazingly! Our children now have fun when we meet with the brothers and sisters! Learning to be free from religious duty and to focus on living by Christ together relationally in face to face community has made a big difference in how we see daily life, expressing Him in our homes, neighborhoods, with friends, at work with co-workers, with institutional church brothers and sisters, etc. All of us can share testimonies of various ways God has expressed Himself through us in the everyday things of life, for His praise and glory! Truly we learn Christ in community, and it makes a big impact in how He lives Himself through us to others. It really is all about Christ, His relationship in and through and for His family, and His love and grace being lived through us to one another. As Frank Viola and Milt Rodriguez have said many times – resurrection comes after crucifixion! It is so true. We are still learning by faith to see ourselves, our flesh, as having died with Christ and that Christ is our life. So we continue to learn to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

We look forward to seeing our Lord find a place of rest for His family, His bride, His body. There have been times of weeping and joy when we have experienced in a small way this blessing together. We look forward to “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

If this is what you desire, a fresh life with a relational God, the Lord Jesus Christ, then seek Him and others who desire to live by Christ’s life together. Open up your home, share life with others, remove the bonds of religion, and drink deeply of Christ. See the Scriptures come to life as you live by His life organically with other brothers and sisters in Christ. May you be a part of that same kind of face to face community in each others homes, in each others lives, so that He to may find a place of rest in your home, in your neighborhood, and in your workplace. You will have to put off the old man of living the self life if you ever to put on the New Man with the brothers and sisters. We are the body of Christ “and in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”


2 Comments so far
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Thanks John, for another thought-provoking and sensitive blog. The thought occurred to me as I read along the lines of ‘old-clothes, new-clothes’. It is obvious, isn’t it, that in order to have a new suit we need to take the old one off first. It is also obvious that we need to change our underclothes too! (The things that are hidden). Only then can we re-dress. First what is on the inside (hidden underclothes!) needs changing, then we are ready for the new suit. We are given something that fits pretty well. Then comes the alterations to make it fit better. Later, after wearing for a while some other adjustments need to be made. Then we are ‘re-clothed’ and ready for public display!

Comment by alan

Alan thanks for the notes. I like the under clothing thought. So true. I am also realizing that while the Scriptures say to “put off” and ‘put on,” Christ really has already done it, it is accepting His work, forgetting what is behind, and moving forward. How the flesh is deceiving. No wonder Paul prayed more about our knowing Christ better than anything else. How “solid our faith in Christ is” I think refers to this. “Continuing to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Think this refers to your thoughts about “alterations” and “adjustments.” Love your analogy! Thanks brother for the comments. John

Comment by John Wilson

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