1. WHAT DOES A SIMPLE CHURCH LOOK LIKE?
1. The church is like a spiritual extended family
A simple church is best described as a spiritual extended family (1 Corinthians 4:15, Romans 16:3-16). This will especially be the case when it was formed around a person of peace and that person’s natural extended family. Just as in a natural extended family, there is a lot of mentoring going on for younger members and there is a natural accountability to the team. There is also protection, welfare and teaching. Extended families grow. So should spiritual extended families.
2. The church is like a spiritual tree, growing from its tips
The New Testament church is also likened to a grape vine: Jesus is the root and trunk while we are the branches (John 15:1-8). He sustains us while we grow ever larger from the tips of the branches, those tips are our new disciples, who will then win more new disciples.
3. The church is like a human body
The universal church is the body of Christ now numbering some 600 million globally in 2020. This is pour best guess at the number of people who love Jesus and live for him. There are many more who call themselves Christians but who do not know Jesus personally so we do not count them. Each local simple church is like a human cell in that great global body. Each person works with others inside that small local cell so that it is healthy, growing and doing its part for the whole global body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
2. EVALUATING YOUR SIMPLE CHURCH
All simple churches (and any other church for that matter) can be evaluated against the standard of the Four Fields:
Your walk with the Lord?
How many Gospel shares per week?
Number of people engaged in evangelism?
Depth of discipleship happening?
Water baptism, baptism in the Holy Spirit
Obedience to scripture
Functions of church?
leaders being mentored?
New church plants?
3. THE FIVE QUESTIONS OF SIMPLE CHURCH
- Who is church?: Any two or more who call on the name of Jesus (Matt 18:20)
- When is church?: Any time it is needed, minimum of once a week (Acts 2:46)
- Where is church?: Anywhere that is convenient (Romans 16:3-5)
- Why is church?: For the encouragement of the saints (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- What to do at church?: Communion, training, teaching, encouraging (Acts 2:38-47)
4. THE FIVE FUNCTIONS OF A SIMPLE CHURCH
- Worship: Any expression of love toward God, but especially soul winning
- Fellowship: Any expression of love toward the body of Christ
- Ministry: Any expression of love toward those who are saved who are nearby
- Mission: Any expression of love toward those who are unsaved, both near and far.
- Discipling: Any expression of love that helps mature Christ in others
Can you see these five functions present in Acts 2:38-47?
5. THE FOUR SIGNS OF A HEALTHY SIMPLE CHURCH
It makes its own decisions via scripture and the Holy Spirit
The whole church made the decision as to who would be deacons (Acts 6:1-7).
All local functions supported by the stewardship of local resources. Most simple churches will be formed in places where there is no welfare system so they will be actively involved in meeting the needs of their members and lost neighbours.
Selling and giving to the leaders for distribution to those in need (Acts 2:44-45).
Everything in nature naturally reproduces. So should the church!
Local simple churches must take ownership of the salvation of all local people.
Every believer must be mobilised and resourced into the harvest
Local church reaching local people (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8)
Scripture is the key to all correction (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When issues come up always ask What do the scriptures say about this situation? Then investigate together. The more scripture is embedded in the lives of people the easier correction will be. Encourage literate people to read up to 30 chapters of the Bible a week. Encourage oral learners to memorise Bible Stories for evangelism.
6. WARNINGS CONCERNING CORRECTING EMBEDDED CULTURAL PRACTICES
All existing cultural practices must be checked against scripture and scriptural principles.
For obvious moral problems that are embedded in the culture, it is very dangerous to simply tell people not to practice these things. For example, how husbands treat their wives is often not anywhere near the Biblical model in Ephesians 5:21-33 . Instead of lecturing people, try doing a Discovery Bible Study on a relevant scriptural passage and let the Holy Spirit convict and correct. Otherwise you have just added a few more human rules to their lives that contradict the many deeply embedded cultural practices they practice.
We are dealing with baby disciples so always encourage, never scold!
Compare your existing church structure against this model. What needs to change?