One of the questions I hear a lot is, “So how does this simple church thing really work?” Many people have an interest in being a part of a small, organic community – or starting one themselves – but just can’t take the leap for one reason or another. Maybe it’s finding others who are interested, the leadership issue, how does teaching work, what do you do with the kids, what happens when you get too big, how do you move out in mission and on and on. There are big questions to answer and I’ve found that many people just can’t get their heads around how to move forward. Books on the subject are often A. too theoretical or idealistic or B. too rigid and systematic. Connecting with other simple churches can be helpful, but context is context and sometimes things just don’t translate to where you live. I really believe that simple / organic / missional / choose your buzzword communities of faith will be an integral part of how the church defines itself in North America over the next 10-20 years. If you still think this is a “disgruntled church member” phenomenon, then you need to do some research that isn’t dated 2004. Seminaries are talking about it, authors across the spectrum are talking about it, and even megachurches are talking about it. (Theory: The multi-site trend for megachurches is only the beginning. They are already discovering that the community-building / disciple-making models of 20 years ago don’t work anymore and even the economics of multi-site are a challenge. Expect to see a shift towards intentionally starting – branding if you will – smaller, ‘missional’ expressions of the mother church in a city or region.) But in spite of all the interest being generated, there is still a tremendous lack of wisdom available born out of experience and deep, critical thinking about the practicalities of this transition.
When Peter and John came upon the lame man, Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” In my case, I don’t have the silver of a church leadership pedigree or the gold of selling 100,000 copies of my latest book. But what I do have, I can give you, which is nine years of learning how to be the church in a simple, life-giving way that naturally leads people into discipleship. So, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, lame American church…get up and walk!During this series of posts, I want to start addressing some of the typical hurdles that people are currently facing to making this transition. Yes, the process can be dangerous and hard, particularly for people who already associate themselves with modern church leadership. Let me put it this way. There is a reason why Peter went through the agony of denying Christ three times and Paul was made blind on the Damascus road. Prepare for a big dose of humility my friends. But at the same time, there is also abundant hope and true freedom on the other side, even – and especially – for those who have been in church leadership.Next post…a thesis…and a foundation for everything to come.