WCC is involved directly, or in some cases indirectly, with around 21 families - or parts thereof. There is a Sunday, and a Thursday group. We also have experimented with small groups named "pods". These have been groups of around three or four people who meet at times and places that suit them in order to have time to share and pray. And one of our members is reaching our to people of her ethnicity in a predominatly Catholic setting. Some of the folk we interact with could be labeled, "saved", some "unsaved" and some "partly saved". But because we've given up on labeling people we just see ourselves as simple followers of Jesus with some, as far as we can tell, a bit further down the road.
When we started embracing simple church, an Anglican priest heard me sharing our story at the Palmerston North Baptist "Changing World - Changing Church Conference." She said to me, "I'd give my right arm to be involved in something like that." And then asked, "How did your church get from where you were to where you are?" My reply, "We stumbled and groped our way along like we were in a dark tunnel." This was because we had no pattern to follow and didn't know any one who could help us. So, here's a list some of the things that caused us at times to wonder if we were deserting our faith and some answers we discovered along the way.
- We began to meet with little or no plan for our services. But, we slowly learned to trust the Holy Spirit to be our Guide.
- We began to include less sermons. But 1 Cor. 14:26 was now being practiced with enthusiasm and profit.
- We began to sing less regularly. But when we did sing it was unplanned, non-stage-managed and spontaneous.
- We began to meet with no visible leader. But we began to recognise the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- We began to spend lots of time drinking, eating and talking together. And we found this deepened our relationships with each other.
- We had an unwritten philosophy to exert no pressure to give money. But we have discovered adequate finances for local and overseas missions.
- We have no expectation that everybody will be at every gathering. Important family issues, for instance, can be more important than being at a particular church gathering.
- We began to do things on Sunday other than meet for what we formerly thought of as our worship time. Some examples of our enlarged, Rom. 12:1, worship has involved us attending a tangi, praying through a non-denominational ministry centre, cleaning up a garden for a struggling octogenarian, working with others on a week-end (including Sunday!) house and section makeover.
Another change is our understanding of vision. We are learning that every believer has, to a lesser or greater degree, a vision from God that they are called to follow. And, like the well-known USA "Mosaic" church we desire to support every member's God-given vision in every possibly way. While we can't hold up lots of spectacular examples, it is worth mentioning one of our friend's vision for an early childhood centre. The vision started with very little in the way or resources and wasn't long before those resources were seriously threatened with extinction. But the vision survived. It broke through devilish opposition. The church prayed, encouraged, rolled up its sleeves investing time and effort while Kay clung tenaciously to her vision. Today there is not one, but four integrated centres that are blatantly Christian and are exerting a positive influence on the many families they are touching with care, compassion and most of all, the Good News!