Organism And Hierarchy


Still 'fine-tuning' our process. You can get to the original article HERE

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE is a reprint from the blog of reverend Kevin Rogers of New Song Church in Windsor, Ontario and is reproduced here for your convenience. You can visit the his blog called "The Orphan Age" HERE.

When you enter the congregational and organizational reality of most local churches, you will encounter two modes of relationship: two ways of structuring around the mission of God.


Organism and hierarchy describe how bodies are formed. These are both scientific words.



1.     A system regarded as analogous in its structure or functions to a living body.

2.     Organic structure; organization.[1]


  1. A group of persons or things organized into successive ranks or grades with each level subordinate to the one above.
  2. Categorization or arrangement of a group of people or things into such ranks or grades.[2]



Churches that are more organic in nature, focus on the cooperative nature of like-minded people in relationship doing things that are viewed as beneficial for their spiritual formation and for the benefit of others. When viewed as an organism, the body of believers is seen as a living, flexible being that can move and adapt quickly. Empowerment is from the ground up.


Churches that are more hierarchical in nature, focus less on the individuality of a local congregation and more on the conformity to the larger church body that they are part of. More attention is given to whom has the permission and the empowerment is from the top down.


Organic churches and hierarchical churches sometimes are at odds with the other churches that think and function different from their own.


The truth be told, the Universal Church is both organic and hierarchical. We must allow for structure and administration that functions from the top down and the bottom up. Unity is essentially an agreement shared by those empowered and those that lack authority. Godly empowerment is for the benefit of the powerless.


Jesus said it this way,


Matthew 18:

At That Time The Disciples Came To Jesus And Asked, “Who, Then, Is The Greatest In The Kingdom Of Heaven?”

He Called A Little Child To Him And Placed The Child Among Them. And He Said: “Truly I Tell You, Unless You Change And Become Like Little Children, You Will Never Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven. Therefore, Whoever Takes The Lowly Position Of This Child Is The Greatest In The Kingdom Of Heaven. And Whoever Welcomes One Such Child In My Name Welcomes Me.



Usually, I will look at hierarchical churches and think, ‘Does the authority of your religious leaders take the lowly position of a child and welcome Jesus in the midst?’


And someone somewhere looks at my leadership and asks the same question. Is he lowly like the child Jesus pointed to?


I came upon a great quote in the Orthodox Study Bible. (Yes, the hierarchical Orthodox Church with a multitude of saints, archbishops, and bishops.)

The Church, in which Christian life develops, is not primarily an organization, but an organism whose parts or members receive their edifying power from Christ to grow up into Christ. Paul does not look at the Christian as an isolated individual walking toward perfection, but as a member of the body, striving to reach the perfect faith and full knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, unity of faith cannot be separated from knowledge of the Son of God.[3]


Can we drop the constant rhetoric that pits organism and hierarchy against each other? Instead, could we be a little more Jesus centred and unify around that? Just saying…



See also....
Making Sense Of The Miraculous

[1] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

[2] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

[3] Orthodox Study Bible ©2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology

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