JohnSWilson3 Blog

Books to Read to Help Understand the Organic Nature of Church

Was asked to share a list of books that might be helpful to better understand the organic nature of church. Obviously there is much that could be listed but here is the list that I have read and that has greatly helped and influenced me. These have helped me to see the organic nature of the body of Christ that we see in the New Testament, God’s heart that the body of Christ, living in the freedom of Christ together, sharing His life out of that freedom in grace and truth with love, to the full expression of the Son.

I have listed them by author(s). Each have their pros and cons and each person who reads them will look at the pros and cons differently. As most will say, none have figured it all out, and much has been more in exploration and experimentation.

Frank Viola and Milt Rodriguez books tend to be more wholly organic and look at organic church from a more practical corporate basis. T. Austin-Sparks, Robert Banks, and Jon Zens books tend to look at organic church from a more theological basis. Neil Cole’s books tend to look at organic church from a cell like church movement perspective with a more individual disciple-making basis. Tony and Felicity Dale tend to look at organic church from a simple and house church perspective. Each author brings their own flavor of living by the life Christ together in His body and each have provided me many areas of edification and growth in understanding what it means to live by Christ in His body and to expressing Him outside of the body. There are many other authors out there with their own books such as Leonard Sweet and Wolfgang Simpson, I just haven’t gotten to reading them, hope you can forgive me, :).

Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet:
– Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ

Frank Viola and George Barna:
– Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices (a deconstruction of the institutional church)

Frank Viola:
– From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God (mind blowing look at God’s eternal purpose from the entire Bible)
– Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity (a reconstructive look at living in organic church)
– The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament (great guide to reading the Bible, especially the New Testament in chronological order)
– Finding Organic Church: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities (very useful in looking at how Christ in His ekklesia grows and spreads organically from the book of Acts and today and useful helps for those looking at venturing into this kind of life organically)
– Revise Us Again: Living From a Renewed Christian Script (most practical of Frank’s books, really helpful at looking at different mindsets within the body of Christ and how to love one another despite our differences)

Milt Rodriguez:
– The Community Life of God: Seeing the Godhead As the Model for All Relationships (best book I have read on the subject)
– The Butterfly in You: Discovering Your True Identity in Christ (wonderful analogy of sanctification, living by the life of Christ)
– The Temple Within: Fellowship With An Indwelling Christ (really impacted me on learning to hear Christ, and am still learning)
– The Priesthood of All Believers: 1st Century Church Life in the 21st Century (important treatment of seeing life in the body where ALL participate not just a few)
– The Organic Church: Something New In case You Might Be Interested (great look at what organic church is and is not)

Jon Zens:
– A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick? (similar to Pagan Christianity but focused more on American “church”)
– What’s With Paul and Women? Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 (best commentary on the confusing passages by Paul related to women, must read!)
– No Will of My Own: How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood (group of essays on the false teaching of Patriarchalism)
– The Pastor Has No Clothes (great look at the hindrance that clergy-laity divide has in the full functioning of the ekklesia)
– Searching Together Magazine

Robert Banks:
– Going to Church in the First Century: An Eyewitness Account (a short and wonderful historical fiction story of an unbeliever visiting an organic church in the ancient city of Rome)
– Paul’s Idea of Community (Revised Edition) (the book that questions the institutional church and its practices that limit body life)
– The Church Comes Home (with Julia Roberts) (haven’t read this yet)

Neil Cole:
– Search and Rescue: Becoming a Disciple Who Makes A Difference
– Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens
– Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are

Tony & Felicity Dale:
– The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church

T. Austin-Sparks:
– The Centrality and Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ
– God’s Spiritual House
– The School of Christ
– The Stewardship of the Mystery
(these are just some of his best works, as far as I’m concerned everything that Sparks wrote is probably the most edifying works I’ve ever read short of the Bible, :))

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
– The Cost of Discipleship
– Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

Watchman Nee:
– The Normal Christian Life
– Christ The Sum of All Spiritual Things
– The Normal Christian Church Life: The New Testament Pattern of the Churches, the Ministry, and the Work (this is from a Chinese house church cultural perspective)

George Barna:
– Revolution: Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary (more of a postchurch perspective)

Gene Edwards:
– The Divine Romance (wonderful story in the form of a play of God’s eternal purpose from an view of the angels in creation to the resurrection of Christ)

Larry Kreider:
– House Church Networks: A Church For A New Generation (this comes from a perspective that both large cell churches and house churches are both important, this is the first book God used to help me see the importance that hierarchy and church structures hampered more than helped the church, seeing that church was not about leaders but about functioning in the body, although the author doesn’t necessarily share this view)

Brother Lawrence:
– The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life (comes from the perspective of a monk but has many great truths about living by the life of Christ in every aspect of life)

Jeanne Guyon:
– Experiencing God Through Prayer (tends to appear to come from a programmed approach to prayer like most studies on prayer but has a more organic perspective than other)

I have many other books, devotionals, theological, commentaries, studying the Bible, church history, discipleship, leadership, counseling, worship, ministry, evangelism, etc but these in almost every case come from an institutional bias with a focus on individual Christianity, living the Christian life by your self in the world. These I still keep, I guess to help me remember that it is not about living an individual Christian life but about living by the life of Christ in and to His body and expressing Him through His body.


6 Comments so far
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Hey John.
Greetings in the name of our Lord.
I most definitely appreciate your comment on the voices God has used to speak great truth to the Church in our age. Indeed these writings bear the imprint of the voice of God today in varying ways.
I have pretty much read all of them and share wish to agree with the selection.
The members of the body of Christ will take away so much from them if they let Christ speak freely through the Holy Spirit.
I wish all readers a great time of searching to know Christ better.

Comment by Ronald BAGAGA

Amen Ronald, so appreciate your heart brother! Yes, may we know Christ better by living by His life in and to and through His body!

Comment by John Wilson

This a great list, John. There’s a handful of these that I haven’t read yet but are definitely on my “to read” list.

Comment by Quincy Zikmund

Thanks Quincy. Haven’t seen too much else out their other than these, although there are others. I’m still working on my T. Austin-Sparks, lol. Blessings to you brother, may we see more of Christ in His fullness in His body this year.

Comment by John Wilson

This is pretty much a list I am espoused to. It certainly deals with a lot that is out there in the organic church revolution…Thank you very much for the guidance. Wish you a great 2012. Be blessed

Comment by Ronald BAGAGA

Thanks Ronald have a great 2012 as well, :). Look forward to seeing an increase in the Christ’s life in His body this next year, moving forward in Christ.

Comment by John Wilson

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