The beauty of simple church is - it's simple! We enjoy the simplicity of sharing our lives with each other, growing in our walk with God, and reaching out to the lost with the gospel. However, one area that can be neglected is giving. Some people even got involved in a simple church due to the troubling focus of some bigger churches on budgets and money. Perhaps they were in a situation that was even legalistic or manipulative. However, it is really important that we not neglect this area of service to the Lord, for the welfare of others, as well as for our own spiritual growth.
I have noticed two extremes when it comes to finances and giving. The first is where leaders demand that the members give. They may not come out brazenly and say it that way, but through manipulation, guilt, or the promise of financial blessings from God, they will get your money out of your hands and into “the work of God.” Some leaders are experts at this, to such an extent that those who give are unaware they have been taken advantage of.
We keep having this conversation about the several responsibilities that one must accept if any church is to work. Folks join up with a simple community and then discover that the freedom brings responsibility! It would seem as though some actually prefer freedom from responsibility to the responsibilities of freedom! Sitting in the stands watching the game carries no inherent risk but actually playing the game carries the risk of failure as one of the prices of the possibility of victory.
THE RESPONSIBILITY TO BECOME A SELF FEEDER!
If a church meeting is defined as a community where each one contributes something (and I Corinthians 14:26 is the only New Testament instruction on how to do church!) then each member must take responsibility to seek Jesus for themselves in order to be able to make a play! They must become a self feeder! We enjoy feeding our children when they are small but not when they are going to school! It is amazing to hear "mature" christians complain about how their pastor does not feed them! Is she/he really supposed to? If the Lord is your Shepherd then let Him lead you by the still waters and make you lie down in green pastures! Unless you feed on Him, you have no life in you!
Allow me to share with you two recent experiences which have led me to one conclusion.
The first was a recent visit to Madrid to spend time with Betel. Betel has begun 180 drug rehab homes and 40-50 churches around the world in the last twenty five years. One of their distinctives is that they work (businesses) to raise over 90% of their own support. The self-sufficiency allows them to have an apostolic spirit of reproduction - always looking outward and moving forward.
If the primary metaphor for church in the New Testament is family, then the primary model for leadership of an individual house church is spiritual mothers and fathers. Healthy families need healthy parents. Parents care what happens to their kids. They are always looking out for their good. They love it when their kids succeed. Their greatest longing is that their kids do better than they have done. With good parents, there's no envy, no one-upmanship.
A good parent will not do something for their kids that they could do for themselves. They assist their kids towards maturity in every area of life. Their goal is that their kids don't remain dependent on them any longer than necessary, but that a healthy interdependence results. In a healthy family, the kids will leave home and start their own families.
What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” -Apostle Paul
Many Christians and churches will never reproduce themselves. The result is that they take their faith and legacy with them to the grave. Nearly four thousand churches close every year in North America. Ed Stetzer estimates that 70% to 80% of all evangelical churches in the US have either stopped growing or are in decline! What does this mean? Simple: the church in North America is not reproducing. We need to become a reproducing disciple making movement once again.
The ultimate goal of discipleship is to reproduce disciples with the gospel through developing disciple making leaders and church planting. Reproduction ensures that a movement will live past its founding stages. The church was never intended to be an end in itself; rather it is called to reproduce and fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples. Reproduction is the goal of every living thing. We see this throughout the pages of the Bible. The Bible is full of reproductive language. God created humankind, animals, and plants to reproduce. Reproduction is also seen in the agricultural language that Jesus uses through the gospels.
A powerful challenge to us about how we see people...and how Jesus sees them.
Presentation by Neil Cole during a training in Norway in May of 2010.
To view this video in English you may go to the following website.
What is Simple Church?
There are many definitions for simple church, our preferred term for what is sometimes called house church. One of the best comes from the Dawn North America Web site (it is also found on the House2House Web site). Rather then reinvent the wheel, I list their definition below.
By "simple church," we mean a way of doing and being church that is so simple that any believer would respond by saying, "I could do that!"
By "simple church," we mean the kind of church that is described in the New Testament. Not constrained by structure but by the needs of the extended family (oikos) and a desire to extend the kingdom of God.
By "simple church," we mean a church that listens to God, follows His leading and obeys His commands.
By "simple church," we mean spiritual parents raising spiritual sons and daughters to establish their own families (oikos).
About the Site
All across the world, people are gathering in small groups to serve and worship God, be family, and encourage and affect each others lives. These gatherings are called by many names including simple church, organic church, and house church. Whatever you call it, the people involved value incarnational ministry to the lost, living radically for Jesus and each other, and are willing to get rid of anything that gets in the way of being fully devoted followers of Christ.Detailed...