5 Flips | 1 Magazine | @rlccphil | Lead pastor and church planter
Learning to follow Jesus faithfully does not just happen in public places, like in traditional church buildings or worship centers. It can also happen - in fact, it should happen more - in the simple settings of our homes. There lives can really change because there is no pressure to pretend or impress. We can be our true selves because the setting demands that we be real. Learning demands four factors, and this is true regardless of the setting. First, the people involved in the learning process must motivate you. Second, the presentation of the learning must resonate with you. Third, the process of learning is motivating to you. Last but not the least, the place both for learning and application are conducive to what you need or want to learn. Regardless of the settings, these four factors determine how much you will learn or whether you will learn at all. A simple church can be an excellent place for learning because 1) you're with friends, 2) the learning is presented through sharing and dialogue instead of a lecture, 3) the process of learning is slow, according to your pace rather than based on an external curriculum or time table, and 4) you're learning in a home and you're able to apply your learning in the context of your real life and real needs. Try learning from Jesus together with others in a simple church and you will see what I mean.
A simple church must meet in a regular place as much as possible. Although it's not wrong to move around every now and then, it would be good if there is one place where you meet each time. This place must be a place where people will not feel threatened. It should be a place that is welcoming and relational. A house is such a place. A person's house is an extension of himself or herself, and to be invited to such a place is to be invited into that person's life. Therefore, it is important to retain that personal atmosphere at all times. This is the reason why your agenda must be simple. Turning the meeting into a Bible study or a mini service will alter the nature of the gathering. There is a place for such things, usually formal places of worship, i.e. church buildings. Instead when you gather in a home, eat together with glad and sincere hearts, share what's going on in your lives and what you're learning from the Lord, and pray for each other. Make your gatherings natural yet spiritual. There's no need to be stiff. Meet as friends in a friend's house. That's what a simple church is all about.
This will be another tool for learning. Watch out for articles that can help you grow as a follower of Christ. Stay tuned.
Anyone can start a simple church. You don't have to be a seminary graduate to start one. But there are certain prerequisites in order to be successful. First, you need to have faith that God can and will use simple churches to make disciples. This is often the greatest hurdle, because we tend to think that God can only do His work of changing lives if a person is sitting in a pew in a large church setting. There has to be a praise team and a pastor preaching. There must be programs, etc. In other words, we are suspicious of the power of simplicity. I hear people say, "But it's not enough!" That only shows how far we have come away from the New Testament model and how easily we have accepted as the norm what we have experienced so far in our culture. God can and will use the simplicity of the simple church to change lives. If you don't believe that, you won't be successful. Second, you or a team need to be willing to facilitate it. A simple church will not function as God intended if there is no one or no team willing to facilitate it. Someone or a team must step up to take the lead and make it happen. Last but not the least, you must have the time necessary to make it successful. The simple church is not just a meeting; it's a social relationship. You must have the time to develop relationships with your simple church members not just during your regular meetings but also in between meetings. Developing relationships takes time. That's why a simple church works only when the members are real friends or are willing to become real friends. Without true friendship, the simple church will struggle to continue. If a person has these three qualities, he or she can start a simple church and make it grow to the glory of God.