Cover photo of Church 3.0, by Neil Cole, from Amazon.com
Church 3.0 is a natural follow up to Organic Church and Organic Leadership, by Neil Cole. Church 3.0 focuses on releasing healthy church movements and gives us some practical applications and insights to help us actually function within the Organic Church Movement. We must move away from the old way to a new mindset of how to function as the global church, and the church missional, without the hang-ups of church buildings and programs.
Neil Cole emphasizes that we must get out of our comfortable and insular infrastructure and reach out in mission in the world. Programs and centralized locations with the expectation that people will come to a church building simply will not work in this present and shifting culture. Cole emphasizes this when he says, “We are going to have to get out of our buildings and meet people where they live.”
What is most helpful in Cole’s book is the expansion of his thoughts and ideas from Organic Church and Organic Leadership. Both of these books have been very helpful in rethinking how we do church, ministry and mission in the world. Cole elaborates on practical ways to simplify church from the program driven “mega church” models, and the programmatic church models, to smaller, simpler, organic church models that are streamlined and more effective in reaching the world for Christ and in meeting real needs with practical, helpful and real ministry.
Neil Cole spends significant time, and rightfully so, unpacking the value of smaller groups of people in missional community. Larger groups are cumbersome and bottleneck ministry in complexity and bureaucracy. Smaller and decentralized groups of people are simpler and more functional in accomplishing God’s mission and will in the world to usher in His Kingdom here on earth.
As groups grow and numbers increase, intimacy and depth of growth diminish. Cole states that discipleship happens and is more effective in smaller groups. He states that we “have exchanged the role of a shepherd to the role of a rancher.” In other words, we have moved from an intimate and nurturing discipleship, that of a shepherd, to a large-scale mass production model of discipleship, which looks more like a “rancher style” leadership than a “shepherding style” of leadership. This larger scale does not work effectively and does not produce disciples with the same effectiveness as a smaller and more intimate scale.
Cole’s book Church 3.0 also addresses the issue of leadership authority in missional communities. With the decentralization of the church comes a decentralization of leadership as well. Jesus is the ultimate head and leader of the church, while other leadership roles and responsibilities work together without any one person in charge. This issue of authority in missional communities, or “Organic Church,” is probably one of the most complex issues to navigate. While Cole attempts to address this issue, one may leave his work less than satisfied as it relates to this issue of authority and leadership in missional communities.
Church 3.0 is an enjoyable, insightful and helpful book to read when looking to understand “Organic Church.” This is a must read for anyone starting out in church planting or beginning missional communities.
Cole, Neil. Church 3.0. Jossey-Bass, 2010.