1) Embracing the blessing of not owning a church building. Of course if you have a building there may not be much you can do about that - though I did hear of a church in the UK who sold their building in order to give the money to a mission station! But if you don't own one, my advice is; don't get on the all-controlling mortgage merry-go-round of the Building Fund. Here's a number of reasons why not owning a church building is better than owning one.
- The Early church evangelised the then-known world without owning any real estate.
- The release of so much money. It is estimated that the world-wide church owns real estate with trillions of dollars. Imagine the good that money would achieve for health, education and evangelism.
- They give the impression that the Most High dwells in temples made by human hands.
- They anchor the church, hindering it from being the 'mobile force' it is meant to be.
- One sole-charge church leader said, "Owning a building shifted my emphasis from 'filling people' to 'filling a building' ".
2) The New Testament example of financial freedom and generosity.
The opposite of the legal, restricting Old Testament tithe is the freedom of New Testament generosity. A quick read of 2 Cor. chaps 8 & 9 will validate this. In fact if you use the O.T. Scriptures to practice tithing, you should practice keeping the Sabbath! Selah. My wife Averil and I sincerely tithed for 50 years. More recently we have changed to giving money, possessions and time as we've felt guided by God. And in no way do we want to go back to the mindless, non-responsible, Old Covenant tithe. See Simple Church Letter, "What Should Christians do With Their Money?" and, "Should a Christian Tithe.?"
3) Making the poor a priority.
I've already spoken about the 2,000 + Bible passages commanding us to be generous to the poor. One of the great blessings of Simple Church is you've got plenty of money! With no property to pay for and maintain and no staff to pay and with people who are generous givers, you can easily help local and overseas situations where there's genuine need. And I'll leave you to count the 2,000 Scriptures, but here's one you may just have missed. It identifies Sodom's major sins, and explains why God judged her - and it doesn't even mention the word "gay"! Ezekiel. 16:49.
4) Demystifying the role of the pastor.
After being involved in a life time of pastoral ministry I have learned some important truths. These include:
- Pastor (shepherd) is a gift, never a title -- except when applied to Jesus, Heb. 13:20, 21. Note Jesus' strict command regarding the use of titles, Matt. 23:6-12.
- The majority of Christians who have the gift of shepherding, rescuing, compassionate caring will never have a title, and never want one!
- The sole leader in most churches today is more of a gifted CEO than a shepherd.
- There is no mention of the term "senior pastor" in the N.T.
- When Paul and Barnabas established churches they appointed elders (plural) to lead the new flocks, Acts 14:23.
- This last point speaks to me of team leadership. I've experienced that during the last nine years and it beats the one-man-band hands down.
- James Rutz in his mind-boggling book, "Megashift" lists a sorry set of statistics revealing the percentage of (mostly sole-charge) pastors suffering 'burnout', 'discouragement', 'their job affecting their family negatively', 'struggling with Internet porn', and '70% of U.S. pastors who say they have no friends'!!! (page 120). I believe 'team' leadership would cut those stats to shreds as well as turn the idle pew-potatoes into functioning members of Christ's body.
It's common knowledge that Jesus didn't tell us to make converts but to make disciples, Mt. 28:18-20. cf 2 Tim. 2:2.
Actually Jesus didn't even tell us to plant churches, and nowhere did he tell us to invest? ginormous amounts of time, effort and expense on Sunday mornings in order to attract people to attend our amazing spectacle in the hope that the members wouldn't jump churches and hopefully, some people will pray the sinners prayer. (I hope the folk doing this know that, it takes an average of four years between conviction and conversion, according to a recent U.K.poll). Just imagine if all this Sunday morning energy was put into mature Christians, getting alongside younger-in-the-faith believers and walking them through the foundations of the Faith and letting them observe the older members' ministry and life-style. Wow! -- (stands for Walking on Water according to Robt Schuller).
Averil and I have, with others, prayer-walked the streets of a small town near where we live. We have now found (without looking) in this town a "man of peace", (see Luke 10), only in this case she is Gill. When praying about planting a church in Gill's town, we all felt that that should NOT be our goal. All that was needed was, first, relationship, time-consuming evangelism. This to be followed by instructing or discipling the people the Holy Spirit convicts, to do the same evangelism and the same disciple making. No doubt some sort of fellowship will grow out of this process, but that can wait for the important foundation to be laid.