Thursday, December 30, 2010

So what is this Simple Church thing anyway?

Over the next couple of weeks I am teaching on what a Simple Church where the Biblical proof for what we are doing is, and helping is others understand the path that we are on.  I have borrowed
some material that my friend Tom Wymore has posted on the Foursquare Simple Church site.  I am using it as a guide along with some other material to walk through this. Here is what we went through last night.


What is Simple Church? Simple Church is our preferred term for what is often called house church. One of the best definitions comes from House2House ( Their definition is below (slightly modified). By “simple church,” we mean …
• a way of doing and being church that is so simple that almost any believer will say, “I could do that!”

• the kind of church described in the New Testament, flexible and changeable to enable quick responses to the needs of the extended family and God’s call to extend His Kingdom.

• people who listen to God, follow His leading and obey Him.

• spiritual parents raising spiritual sons and daughters to establish their own families.

It’s More Than a Change of Location! Simple church is more than a move away from the confines of a building. It is a response to God’s call to re-examine everything about “church” in light of Scripture and to simplify what has been complicated by events and programs. It is best described by common core values and practices such as … 
• Simplicity. Formal programs give place to informal, spontaneous expressions of life and outreach.

• Intimacy with God and one another. Intimacy with God is foundational to everything else.

• Community. SC folks know that relationships are at the core of everything in the Christ life.

• Family. The church is family, healthy families are the church, and leaders are spiritual parents.

• The Gospel of the Kingdom—this is the message that Jesus and the NT believers presented!

• 24/7 Christian walk. Folks in simple churches have a sincere desire to be devoted followers of Jesus all the time, everywhere; the level of personal accountability and involvement is very high.

• Spontaneity. Life and ministry together are characterized by the informal and spontaneous.

• Supernatural lifestyle. Simple church folks generally seem to be very open to the supernatural and keenly aware of the need to live naturally supernatural lives in today’s broken world.

• Intimacy-based, missional praying (e.g., praying Luke 10:2b for workers for the Harvest).

• Participation (for everyone—everyone has something to contribute, not only when the church gathers but as the church ministers to its own community and beyond).

• Leadership by example, serving and spiritual influence, carried out in and by a leadership  community, not a single leader. Simple church leaders allot most of their time to intentional relationships in both formal and informal settings.

• Modeling and discovery-based learning as the primary means of teaching/training; this is a return to the Hebraic model used by Jesus and other NT leaders.

How is this different from more traditional forms of church?

Many of these values are shared by the traditional church models, so how is Simple Church different?
Traditional Church vs Simple Church

Meetings: the major focus is on the large gatherings, even in cell-celebration models.
Meetings: the major emphasis is on small group meetings; tends toward the informal and spontaneous.

Community: is often assumed that community results from regular services, events and the members’ involvement in the specified programs.
Community: is pursued very deliberately,with effort given almost exclusively to building relationships rather than to events, meetings, programs.

Leadership: is typically reserved for those appointed to pastoral roles and position of authority.
Leadership: is viewed as the shared responsibility of every member in the community

Participation: is limited to only a few by the size of meetings and often by the ministry philosophy.
Participation: is by every member (including children!) in all gatherings and all expressions of ministry.

Personal care for one another is primarily done by the pastoral staff or those they appoint.
Personal care for one another takes place through all the members of the group.
A Biblical Definition of Church—Is that a church?!

The question “Is that a church?” was never asked in NT times. There was only the church: the “universal” Church, the church in a region/city or the church that met in someone’s house (Romans
16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15). So a better question would be, “Is that a viable expression of the church?” What helps us recognize the Body of Christ regardless of its “clothing”? Consider the following.
·        The church is the result of the extension of the Kingdom of God. Whenever the Kingdom of God invaded an area it created a community of Christ followers, a family, known as a church (ekklesia).
·        Although there are many descriptions of the church in the New Testament, perhaps the simplest  yet fullest description of the church is “God’s Family.”
o   Although the church is called “family” only rarely: Galatians 6:10, 1 Peter 4:17 (oikos:household) and Ephesians 3:15 (patria: family descended from a father), the early believers clearly understood their relationship with God and one another in terms of family. In Romans 8:14-15 and Galatians 4:6 believers know God as “Abba” (Aramaic for “papa” or “daddy”), and the most common term
for believers in the NT is “brothers.” 
o   I love my friend John White’s definition of the church: “A spiritual family called together by Jesus and functioning under His leadership.”

• All believers in the New Testament had entered the family having experienced the following.

They had …
o   been unmistakably born from above (“born again”) through repentance and deep, total trust in Jesus.
o   confessed Jesus as Lord, the complete master of their lives.
o   baptized in water as a means of identification with Jesus and His family.
o   inundated by God’s Spirit (baptized in the Spirit).
o   undergone a process of inner healing and spiritual cleansing via deliverance as needed.

• Although we are not told a lot about the gatherings of the church, we do know the following:
o   They usually gathered around a meal, integrating at some point the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (see Acts 2:46; 1 Corinthians 11:20-26).
o   The gathering could be as few as two or three (Matthew 18:20).
o   The following were characteristic of every gathering.
.. The Presence of God. Early believers expected the experienced presence of
Jesus through the Holy Spirit to be among them (Matthew 18:20 and 1 Corinthians
.. The Power of God. The early believers expected the supernatural power of God
to be expressed in their midst (see 1 Corinthians 5:4, 12:7-11, and Galatians

.. Participation by all. The early believers expected each person to contribute
in their gatherings as the Spirit led (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and 14:24-26.
Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16-17 also imply participation by many.).
Meeting in homes helped maintain the smaller size needed for participation. The
NT also describes other, occasional larger gatherings, but the regular
gatherings remained small to allow for participation by all.
• Leadership in the NT church was servant-oriented and not hierarchical, and leaders led by example as much as by instruction and training. Paul’s letters are filled with evidence of this.

Four passages that show this are Acts 20:17-28, 1 Corinthians 4:14-17, 2 Corinthians 4:5 (your “slaves for Christ’s sake”) and 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12 (Paul likens himself to mother and father).

• The purpose or mission of the church has many facets (see 1 Peter 1:9, for example), but it always flows from intimacy with Jesus (John 15:1-17) and derives its power and direction from individual and corporate relationship with Him.
Summary: Is it a viable expression of the church? Yes, if you see the following:
• People being transformed by the power of God, relating to God and one another as family, who are in various ways transforming the world around them.

• Leadership that leads by loving example and serving as well as by instruction/training.

• Gatherings that are filled with God’s presence and power and in which everyone participates. 
Permission to reproduce for non-commercial purposes granted so long as document is left intact. Thanks. (ok so I had to make a couple of format changes but the content wasn’t changed)
This is the ride that we are on, the place that God has been preparing us for and the direction we are headed….  are you ready to do something different?

Gifting and Identity from 11/14/09

The main topic last night was “how are we gifted?” which led into the importance of our identity and knowing who we are.  We focused mostly on what are often referred to as the personal or redemptive gifts that we have received from Father God.  These gifts affect how we live our everyday lives, at some level they correlate with who we are and give us insight into why we do some things certain ways. We need to be careful not let our realization of our gift get us stuck in a box, or use it as an excuse for poor behavior (all of the gifts have pitfalls).  What tends to happen is that in some cases we
have preconceived ideas of what certain gifts should look like, and that can steer us away.  We need to remember that the gift is from the Father and He will work the gift out in you how He needs it and will line up with who you are. Another caution is we look at some gifts and consider some of them to
be greater or lesser that the others and that can effect how we look at the gift, well they are all equally important and needed in the Body of Christ, each has its own special purpose. When we get a firm grasp of what these gifts are instead of boxing us in it should be setting us free and launching us
further into our destiny.
For anyone that interested here is the Scripture reference for these gifts:
Romans 12:3-13 (NASB)
 3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Can expectations = limitations? (10/31)

Well once again at the gathering there was a common theme that was threaded through most of the conversation and ministry time. The theme was expectations, both good and bad. How many of us have been limited because our expectations were lower than we knew they should be? How many of us have been blocked from growth because we never were able to exceed the expectations that were put on us by others?
Unfortunately because of these limitations we miss the expectations that God has for us. Most of us
that have been around church have heard Jeremiah 29:11 used sometimes endlessly, instead of being a revelation packed verse from God it has become a platitude. However there is deep truth there, God has plans for each and everyone of us and in His eyes they aren’t depended on where we come from, how smart we think we are, how pretty we think we are or how capable we think we
are. He sees us through different eyes, eyes that aren’t limited by our humanity or by how many boogers we have on our lenses (thanks the Kris Vallotton for that visual).
 We need to adjust our vision to see through His clear lenses and not our clouded ones. As we spend
time with the Holy Spirit, He brings clarity, He brings revelation and direction. He is the one that holds the key to our destiny….

Good Quotes

When we are in hand-to-hand conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil himself, neat little Biblical confectionery is like shooting lions with a pea-shooter; God needs a man who will let go and deliver blows right and left as hard as he can hit, in the power of the Holy Ghost. Nothing but forked-lightning Christians will count.~CT Studd                       
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
~Corrie Ten Boom                       

the gatherings

We have started meeting Friday evenings at the Gathering
House in Freeland, WA. There is an anticipation for what The Father is about to
 This last Friday we were all just praying listening to some good worship music. During this time I
was given some Scripture, which I shared and was then given confirmation from
Sarah that another prophet that had visited the island had shared. The
Scripture was Romans 8:12-25, the part that really stood out was that all
creation was groaning waiting on the sons of God. The Island is ready to be
reclaimed into the Kingdom, He created it, it was always His and just like Adam
in the garden man gave ownership to the enemy. It’s time that we get it back so
the full purpose can be released.
 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you
live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.