Tag Archives: simple church

What one newly forming simple church wants

In the past couple of weeks we have found ourselves in the middle of a new church group that is suddenly coming together. I described one of the first meetings in my last post, “Cool stuff about Wednesday’s meeting“. We met on Sunday, and I asked the group to share their vision of what they want the group to be all about. The most common theme in the discussion is that they really want to reach people who need to know God. They recognize a number of reasons that many people won’t ever become part of a traditional evangelical church. They’re not critical towards traditional churches, but they want to do something different that will connect with people outside of traditional churches. Here’s a list I made during the meeting, based on their responses. It is written in the voice of the group:

  • There should be a change in our lives. We will first and foremost focus on our own spiritual growth. Seeing us changing for the better is what will draw new people into the group.
  • After I shared that we missionaries are only there to support and empower the group and not to lead or control anything, the group agreed. One woman said, “When people see foreigners up front leading a church, they say, ‘That’s a religion of foreigners. We don’t want that, because they already conquered us.'”
  • We want to help people who are hurting and have problems and needs. Lots of people won’t ever go to a traditional church, but they will come to a meeting in someone’s home. For this reason, we’re not particularly interested in building a church building or having rigid, formal meetings.
  • We don’t want to create a strict regimen of religious rules and lots of pressure to show up at every meeting. Instead, we want to have an internal commitment with one another and most of all with God that impels us to participate and do things.
  • Our schedules can make showing up to church meetings very tough. We want to schedule these meetings at times when people can come, and we want to keep it flexible and change the time and location whenever we need to in order to accommodate people.
  • Church people tend to get labeled by those on the outside. Outsiders say things like, “I don’t want to be part of that, because then I’ll be an ‘Alleluia'”. This is because we sometimes do strange things or use strange language that people on the outside don’t understand. As much as possible, we want to use simple language that people understand, and avoid doing things that unnecessarily separate us from people.
  • We want to have a humble attitude. We don’t want to be proud and stuck up with people who don’t know God.
  • We want fellowship and conversation to be defining characteristics of our meetings. We don’t want to just sit quietly and listen to one person preach all the time and not ever talk to the person sitting next to us.
  • We want to create an atmosphere where people feel like they’re with family and feel like they can ask any question. For example, lots of people have questions like, ‘I worship the Virgin Mary, but does she have power?’ We want people to feel like they can ask those types of questions, and we’ll be able to guide them as we go along.
  • Dave, Rhonda, and I emphasized one more point, which is this: Everything we do will be based on the Bible, as taught to us by the Holy Spirit. The Bible contains the truth of God. Without the Spirit to teach us the Bible, we’re just dealing with man’s interpretations, which is what leads to so many different religions who all say they practice the Bible. Each person in the group will be equipped to study the Bible and hear from the Holy Spirit. We will not depend on one certain teacher; everyone at different times will be able to teach others something, based on revelation given by the Holy Spirit.

We’re pretty excited about this list. It’s not quite a comprehensive expression of all that a church is and does, but it’s a great start for a simple new church that is being founded on some really good desires.

Could any of these ideas work for your church?

Guy Muse, one of my favorite bloggers, is a missionary to Ecuador who is currently on home assignment in the U.S. He recently shared some thoughts he has since being reimmersed in traditional North American churches after a long time away. I thought he had some interesting ideas that someone just might be crazy enough to try. Here is some of what he said:

After now sitting through three months of worship services and Sunday School classes in half a dozen different churches, what follows are a few observations coming from someone who has long been out of practice of “going to church” as is commonly practiced here in America.

Sunday Morning Sermon. Instead of preaching 30-45 minutes and then everyone going home and promptly forgetting all/most of what has been so conscientiously prepared, why not share a reduced 15-20 minute message and spend the balance of time allowing interaction by the congregation? This personal interaction with the message would bear far more fruit than simply listening to a good man preach. Depending upon the size of the church and seating layout, this could be done in several different ways:

1) The pastor could end with a few key questions that get at the heart of what he was trying to share. As people begin to respond back to the pastor a dialog could ensue amongst all those present. The pastor could facilitate the discussion as several share their wisdom and understanding from their rich experience.

2) People could be encouraged to break up into small groups and share with one another what they sense God is saying to them through what has been shared through the Word.

3) Ask people to share how they intend on applying what they have learned from the Word. What specific actions is the Spirit of God impressing upon them in response to the message? Wouldn’t 10-15 minutes praying for one another and applying the message with their individual situations have a more meaningful impact than simply one person doing all the talking?

It is strange that week after week so much effort has gone in to preparing good Biblical messages, only to be concluded with an invitation which usually has nothing to do with what has been preached. Sometimes 2-3 people will go forward during the invitation, but rarely does it have anything to do with the preceding 30-45 minutes. Why is the bulk of time given to one brother speaking week after week while the remaining 99% just sit and listen? Is church primarily about the message preached by the pastor? What happened to the exhortation by the writer of Hebrews, And let us consider one another, to incitement of love and of good works, not forsaking the assembling together of ourselves, as is the custom of some, but exhorting, and by so much more as you see the Day drawing near?

Read on to hear his reflections on the offering, Sunday School, singing and praise, and prayer.