Simple church is a response to God’s call to re-examine everything about church in light of the Bible, and to simplify what has become complicated by buildings, events and programs.
It is best described by values and practices such as the following:
- Simplicity: Formal programs give way to informal expressions of life and outreach.
- Intimacy: Both with God and one another.
- Community: Relationships are at the core of everything.
- Family: Healthy families are the church, and leaders are spiritual parents.
- Supernatural lifestyle: Simple church people are aware of the need to live naturally supernatural lives in a broken world.
- Participation: Everyone has something to contribute.Modeling discovery-based learning: This is a return to the Hebraic model Jesus used as His primary means of teaching and training.
Traditional churches share many of these values. But some particular distinctions that may be helpful for understanding are the following:
- The small group meetings are the church—larger gatherings are simply the churches gathered for a larger meeting.
- Leadership in a simple church is viewed as the shared responsibility of every member.
- Every member (including children) is encouraged to participate in all gatherings and expressions of ministry.
- Personal care for one another takes place through all members of the group.
By simple church, we mean a way of doing, or being, the church that is so simple that almost any believer will say, “I can do that!” Think about the church described in the New Testament, flexible and responsive to the needs of people—that is simple church.
Far from being competition to or a replacement of traditional church models, simple church adds a critical tool to our national and global efforts to advance God’s kingdom.
Jesus began many of his lessons in what we have come to call the sermon on the mount by saying, “You have heard it said…” in which he addressed an established teaching. The purpose of this method of teaching was to draw bring to the fore-front of the minds of those listening to him the law he was referring to. Once he had their attention, Jesus continued by saying, “But I am saying to you…”, thus broadening the meaning of the law or the teaching. In another place he told his disciples that he spoke this way so that those who were intrigued would ask him to explain. This allowed him to expound upon the meaning with those who were interested. It was a more personal way of teaching them. You might call it the “meaning after the message.” This style of teaching speaks to the importance of relational ministry–something that the traditional church–for the most part–is lacking today. This simple manner of teaching is one where by any follower of Christ can easily convey the message of the king and his kingdom.
What I am about to say may date me, but so be it. I number of years ago a car company came out with a commercial where a young boy looked at the camera and whispered, “Something’s up!” I do not know where you are in your walk or relationship with the god-head, but I am telling you that the young man in the commercial those many years ago is speaking a profound truth.
What this means is that the importance of having this intense relationship with the Father is all the more important. If you do not know what is going on, you will be caught off guard when it–whatever “it” is–happens. There is a passage of scripture in the New Testament book of Revelation that states, “The spirit and bride say come…” The spirit represents the Holy Spirit–the third person in the god-head, while the bride represents the body of believers who have made themselves ready to receive the bride groom. The only way these two (Holy Spirit and bride) can be saying the same thing is by hearing the same message from the Father. This is the relationship that is most essential in the church today.