Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Well, maybe you do? But you absolutely don't have to apologise for meeting in an unstructured simple/organic church setting. So, I'm writing this letter for those of you who meet this way and have been subjected to negative remarks such as the following. I also add a few possible answers.

 Your simple church isn't growing? Meaning - if your group is not growing (numerically of course) it can't be 'of God'.

Response: How many traditional churches today are not growing? If numerical growth is a sign of God's blessing there are lots of un-blessed churches in the world. But simple churches are growing/multiplying around the world. According to respected USA researcher George Barna, some 20 million Christians in America are part of 'mini-movements' meeting in homes and work places. A recent World Outreach magazine reports that in SE Asia, in only seven months more than 800 believers baptised and over 80 house churches planted.

 Who is your covering?

Response: Where in the Bible are we told to have a (male?) 'covering'? If it's about protection, isn't God's presence and power adequate to protect us? (Romans 8:31). If it's about accountability, most simple churches have a leadership team to whom we can choose - not be told - to have some sort of accountability relationship.

 What about, "Let us not give up meeting together..." Heb. 10:25? Meaning - if you aren't in a traditional church every Sunday you are disobeying this command.

Response: Even a cursory look at verses 24 and 26 (the context telling us why we meet) will show that these instructions rarely happen in a traditional church and regularly happen in a gathering where all are free to participate.

 If we don't have to apologise for our church structure, are there things about Simple Church we can be (humbly) proud? Here's a sample. Simple church is...

 Biblical. In following the example of the early church where the believers normally and regularly met in homes.

 Graced with the presence of Jesus. Matt. 18:20

 Participatory. "When you meet, one will...another will...another will...one will...another will..." 1 Cor. 14:26

 Cost effective. No expensive buildings to buy and maintain and no salaries to pay. In our church a small basket is put on the coffee table and the money that's put in goes to support missions, assist the poor and contribute to other kingdom activities. This is typical of simple churches.

 Team leadership. I recently searched the New Testament history book (Acts of the Apostles) looking to find a sole-charge pastor. He wasn't to be found. But I did find "elders"!

 Appreciated by non-church 'Harry' and 'Mary'. In the n ineyears I have been involved with Simple Church I have occasionally been asked by non-church folk, "Where is your church?" My answer is to explain where we meet and what we do. I have always received a positive response to my explanation. This response is a powerful confirmation to me that we are doing something right. Simple Church is obviously attractive to these folk and can also be an open door for people who have been 'turned off' church.

 A word of caution. Please do not interpret this SC Letter as saying that simple churches are 100% right and traditional churches are 100% wrong. No SC is perfect - especially ones containing people!! We are all on our individual and collective journeys, seeking to 'know Christ and make him known'. Let not my Yorkshire-born Mother's saying be owned by any of us, "All the world's wrong but me and thee and I'm not sure about thee." Or a Pharisee, Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, who said, (according to William Barclay), "If there are only two righteous men in the world, I and my son are these two; if there is only one, I am he!"

 Lord it's hard to be humble.


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