Today only you can get 15% off Neil Cole’s forthcoming Organic Leadership, which brings it to $12. Enter the Coupon Code “CyberMonday” (no quotes necessary). You have to spend $50 for this discount coupon to work, but hey, buy some Christmas gifts!
Posts Tagged ‘ neil cole ’
Neil Cole offers two chapters and an excerpt on the Unstoppable Multiplication of the Church from his most recent book, Search & Rescue. This excerpt is one of the gems from Search & Rescue, where he argues that most churches have built their leadership, discipleship, and growth on Addition, not Multiplication. See my review of S&R for more.
Here are some recommended CP manuals on the nuts and bolts of planting.
Gary Rohrmayer has planted tons of churches and wrote a helpful course called First Steps: Missional Church Planting. First Steps is strong on the nuts and bolts and guides the planter through six stages of the first year of missional church planting. These stages include:
- Relating to God and Others
- Networking and Gathering
- Building a Launch Team
- Designing Worship Services and Ministry Strategies
- Launching Public Services
- Establishing the New Community and its Ministries
Another one of its strengths is that it is principle, not model driven. So, it accommodates a variety of models and encourages contextualization. Though the course is launch driven, some of the templates for budgets, position descriptions, financial accountability, etc are helpful jumping off points. You can also purchase a membership at CoachNet that allows electronic access to the entire workbook and PDFs and take the course.
Redeemer Planting Manual
Tim Kellerís Redeemer Church Planting Manual is incredibly strong on missiology and philosophy of ministry. If you really want to know how to become lead missionary that cultivates a church of missionaries, follow Timís approach. At times, it is overwhelming (and I have background in Anthropology!), but there are a lot of riches to be found in this manual.
Exploring the Land
Exploring the Land focuses on understanding your target people and culture(s). This book was written for reaching unreached peoples, which is why it is so helpful for domestic church planting. It forces to ask questions that we think we already have answers for, forcing you to do the hard, loving work of contextualization.
Church Planters Toolkit
Bob Loganís Church Planters Toolkit is a standby that offers a lot of pracitcal helps and is used by the Evangelica Free Church. Logan has actually transformed some of his personal convictions about methodology and is now planting more organically. He co-wrote an expensive book on this with Neil Cole called Beyond Church Planting.
Dynamic Church Planting Handbook
Dynamic Church Planting Handbook is built around strong theological and pastoral foundations, but with modern methods. I found myself continually challenged to rely on the Holy Spirit, plant in spirtual health, and plant for the Glory of God when reading this manual. Some of the nuts and bolts were disappointing, however.
Neil Cole’s Organic Church was an overnight success. I have referred back to several times for organic church principles that have shaped Austin City Life. However, Cole’s newest book Search and Rescue: Becoming a Disciple Who Makes a Difference struggles to stay afloat.
The hyper-sensitive Calvinist shouldn’t judge the book by its cover. This is not an Arminian tirade on Calvinist failures at mission, though recent research appears to support such conclusions. Using the metaphor of “search and rescue”, Cole is not trying to make a statement regarding Total Depravity, that we are alive and afloat in our sin, versus dead and drowned in depravity. Rather, Cole uses his lifeguard experience as an illustration of how the church should make disciples, which includes “seeking and saving the lost”. And here is his where the book begins to drown.
The book is littered with pictures and inundated with stories from Cole’s lifeguard days in California. I’m all for a good illustration, but Cole takes this way too far, dominating the entire book. Not only is this filler, it obscures some of his helpful comments on discipleship. In addition to riding the wave of lifeguard stories, in the first half of the book, Cole also attempts to surf 2 Timothy for discipleship principles and insights. Unfortunately, he offers mainly superficial observations and poor exegesis, particularly his comments on why we should not follow the reward structure of farmer/athlete/soldier in 1 Timothy 2 at a motivation for discipleship. He doesn’t seem to get Christian Hedonism. However, it’s great to see him addressing the notion of motivation in discipleship, in which he deconstructs religion and other forms of external motivation, pointing to the gospel as “that which transforms the soul” (97). You can skip the first four chapters of the book and go straight to chapter five, where he develops his insights from Organic Church on building the church by multiplication, not addition. If this is new to you, its worth reading about in either book.
The second half of Search and Rescue is self-admittedly a rework of Cultivating a Life for God, which rehearses the story and structure of Life Transformation Groups (LTGs). These groups of 2-3 are formed around three practices: 1) Confession of sin 2) Reading lots of Scripture 3) Praying for the lost. They are simple, reproducible, and strategic. Before I came across Cole, I had been doing something similar with friends for several years. I really like the simplicity and reproducibility of the LTG concept. Cole has inspired me to implement my own version—Fight Clubs—in our church. A summary of LTGs is found on page 175.
Cole’s strength is questioning the status quo. He doesn’t do a lot of that in this book. However, when he does it is refreshing and edgy. Like saying that we slow down the obedience of disciples when we run them through content heavy discipleship material. Or that the Early Church met in accountability groups. Or that when pastors talk about Greek and Hebrew from the pulpit they separate themselves from the flock and distance the church from the Bible.
All in all, the book isn’t worth buying, especially if you have read Cole’s other stuff. I’ve shared most of the nuggets and purchased it in hope of finding much more. In fact, the richest paragraph in the book comes from Alan Hirsch’s preface:
It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity the other side of complexity.” Simple answers, offered without taking into account the vast intricacies of human life in an infitine universe, are close to being out right worthless to any human being in need of real truth that addresses real, live situations. Simplicity this side of complexity simply doesn’t fit or resonate with our condition and is not worth a dime. However, when simplicity presents itself beyond the complexities that we all face, and it takes into account the nuanced and often perplexing situation we find ourselves in, the these truths are worth all that we own.
Neil Cole’s new book is now out Search & Rescue: Becoming A Disciple Who Makes A Difference. Cole’s previous book, Organic Church, was immensely influential and, in some circles, a tad controversial. Apparently, this book repackages some of the ideas from OG and from his lesser known book Cultivating A Life for God. The strength of this book will likely be Cole’s insights on how to connect with unbelievers as well as now to grow missional disciples Comment if you have already read it.
Here are four helpful ways to keep an Organic (or any church) on mission, taken from Neil Cole and expanded upon by yours truly.
Practice of Prayer
Don’t rely on your cultural exegesis, persuasive personality, strong leadership, or big vision. Rely on God for growth. Pray for the harvest and for laborers to join the harvest. As one our launch team members pointed out, Jesus tells the 70 disciples he sent on mission to already begin praying for more missional disciples, more organic kingdom laborers in the harvest. Consider having launch team members host regular prayer meetings, rotating from house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood, to contextualize prayer and mission.
Pockets of People
In Jesus’ sending of the 12 and 70 (Luke 9&10), he sent them to houses and with very little (no food, extra clothes, money). The disciples were forced to rely on God and the would-be community of faith to grow the kingdom. Look for people who are connected in your communities and spend time with them, have dinners and parties in their homes, get on board with giving the kingdom away. Identify pockets of people in coffeeshops, clubs, restaurants, etc and spend time there. Avoid heavy-handed leadership and cultivate leadership early on. Cole notes that some of these folks may be unrepentant sinners, but that “bad people make good soil.”
Power of Presence
Expect God to do powerful things. Cole says that “Where you go, the King goes, and where the King goes, people bow” (OC, 177). Exercise faith as you live missionally.
Person of Peace
Look for people who come to Christ to be people of peace, people who lead to new relational and cultural networks through which we can spread the gospel to make our communities and cities better places to live. Whether they have a good or bad reputation, God wants to bless them with salvation and multiply his grace through them. Jesus delivered a demoniac and sent him to ten cities to spread the gospel.
The following article by Wolfgang Simpson and co challenges status quo giving and church finance, along the lines of organic church. This article challenges the typical, individualistic sense of giving in N. America.