Wednesday, February 14

Words of wisdom from Neil Cole

Last month I attended Neil Cole's Organic Church Multiplication Movements Conference held in Long Beach, California, January 26-28. I am still processing the load of great stuff shared by Neil, Alan Hirsch, Reggie McNeal, Wolfgang Simson, Felicity Dale, and several others.

While there I picked up a copy of Neil's "Organic Church: Growing faith Where Life Happens." As founder of Church Multiplication Assciates, Neil and gang have grown to more than 700 churches in 32 states and 23 nations in only six years. There are quite a few out there "talking the talk" but not necessarily "walking the walk." In my book Neil and gang have earned the right to be listened to and learn from.

In Chapter 13 of "Organic Church" Neil shares what he would do differently if he were to start again. I personally identify wholeheartedly with each of these seven issues and have seen the truth of them in our own church planting ministry here in Ecuador. Neil writes...

FIRST, I would begin in the harvest and start small. Don't start with a team of already-saved Christians. We think that having a bigger and better team will accelerate the work, but it doesn't. In fact, has the opposite effect...churches birthed out of transformed lives are healthier, reproductive, and growing faster. It is about this: a life changed, not about the model.

SECOND, I would allow God to build around others. Don't start in your own home; find a person of peace and start in that home. Read Matthew 10 and Luke 10, and do it.

THIRD, I would empower others from the start. Don't lead too much. Let the new believers do the work of the ministry without your imposed control. Let the excitement of a new life carry the movement rather than your intelligence and persuasiveness.

FOURTH, I would let Scripture, not my assumptions, lead. Question all your ministry assumptions in light of Scripture, with courage and faith. There is nothing sacred but God's Word and Spirit in us; let them lead rather than your own experience, teachings, and tradition.

I would rethink leadership. The Christian life is a process. There is not a ceiling of maturity that people need to break through to lead. Set them loose immediately, and walk with them through the process for a while. Leadership recruitment is a dead end...Leadership farming is what is needed. Any leadership development system that doesn't start with the lost is starting in the wrong place. Start at the beginning, and begin with the end in mind. Mentor life on life and walk with them through their growth in being, doing, and knowing. The end is not accumulated knowledge but a life of obedience that will be willing to die for Jesus.

SIXTH, I would create immediate obedience in baptism. Baptize quickly and publicly and let the one doing the evangelizing do the baptizing. The Bible doesn't command us to be baptized, but to be baptizers. It is absolutely foolish the way we hold the Great Commission over our people and then exclude them from obeying it at the same time.

SEVENTH and last, I would settle my ownership issues. Stop being concerned about whether "your" church plant will succeed or not. It isn't yours in the first place. Your reputation is not the one on the line; Jesus' is. He will do a good job if we let him. If we have our own identity and reputation at stake in the work, we will tend to take command. Big mistake. Let Jesus get the glory and put his reputation on the line; He can take care of Himself without your help.


lifetyro said...


antonio said...

wow, that is definitely interesting. 1-4 & 7 have been on my mind and in my studying for some time now.

Ken said...


Great post and reminder of things that we need to keep in the forefront of our thinking. Instead of posting today, I felt it better to push others to your post so I hope many more read what you have written. Take care my friend.

By the way, one of our SAs has been quoted as saying, "The resources are in the harvest, but probably not in the silo."

Eric Kurfman エリック・カーフマン said... usual, an excellent post.

I could say "I wish I would have known this stuff" but to be honest, I have said some of the very same things myself...I just didn't really put them into practice.

The heart is wicked and deceitful of above all is unbelievable what you can convince your self you "believe"...

As a retooling missionary all I can say to any of you is...let others close enough to tell you the truth about yourself.

What YOU think you are doing and what OTHERS see you doing may be very matter what your ideals and goals are.

Jeff said...

Thank you for your dedication to the lost and building from the harvest. It's always encouraging and a joy to read your blog. It's a "politics free zone"!! I love it


Jeff Parsons
Amarillo, TX

Strider said...

Our SA has recently required all of us to read this book. Looks like good stuff, I am looking forward to checking it out.

antonio said...

Guy, do you guys have something on True Love Waits en Spanish? We are going to be doing it the last of March and I would prefer to not have to translated it.

GuyMuse said...


Thanks for stopping by, glad you found Neil's words interesting. I did too!


#1-7 have been on my mind ever since I first read them in his book. Most of them are things we have taken seriously in our own ministry and have tried to do the very things he suggest. We are probably weakest on #5, but that is the subject of a whole other post!


Thanks for the plug on your blog. If you haven't read the book yet, it is a "must-read". I like what your SA has to say about the silo!


Excellent observation about "What YOU think you are doing and what OTHERS see you doing may be very different..." In fact that has got to be the "quote of the week" and a good reminder for us all.


I too sometimes dabble a bit in the political side of things, but more and more see it as a distraction from the "main thing". It bothers me that so much more attention and debate is going on about the political side of missions, than about the incredible things going on in today's world. I want to be part of helping people see and understand a bit more about what missions is all about.


I think your SA is right on for having you guys read this book. I am on my second reading of it right now to mark the parts that really spoke to me personally. After that I plan to tackle Alan Hirsch's "The Forgotten Ways" who also spoke at the Long Beach conference.


Yes, True Love Waits is in Spanish. I have not used it, but it is out there. If I am not mistaken Lifeway has this material available in Spanish. The versions I have seen though are ones that were locally translated.