1. THINGS DO GO WRONG!
The New Testament is riddled with examples churches that made mistakes (Romans 16:17-19, 1 Timothy 6:3-5). You only have to read Revelation 2-3 to see how theological and moral errors quickly entered the early church. Satan wakes up when the Church takes ground and he will often use the weak points in human nature to lead a church astray. Correct teaching and an emphasis on obedience to Jesus right from the start of a disciple’s life in Jesus will minimise these problems.
Examples of New Testament Church Problems
- The infiltration of ideas from foreign religions and philosophies (Galatians 1)
- Leadership issues (1 Corinthians 1:10-16)
- Money/distribution (Acts 6:1).
- Religious traditions (Acts 15:1-35)
- Moral compromise with surrounding cultures (1 Corinthians 5)
- Pride (Revelation 3:14-22)
- Growing lukewarm in their faith (Revelation 2:1-7)
- False prophets (1 Peter 2:1-3)
…And there are many others!
The good news is that the smaller the church group and the more obedient they are to Jesus right from the start, the easier it is to self-correct when things go wrong. The key is to make sure the church is grounded in scripture and listening to the Holy Spirit.
2. THE HEALTH CHECK STANDARD
To check if your simple church is healthy or not, the standard is given to us in Acts 2:38-47:
V38 Present the gospel
V41 Baptise believers
V42 Follow scripture
V42 Fellowship and love
V44-5 Give to the needy
V46 Meet regularly
V47 Praise God
It’s that simple! The nine Commands of Jesus give us a very similar and overlapping list of features of a healthy simple church. If any of these are missing from your simple church, you have work to do.
3. A WORD ABOUT LEADERSHIP TERMINOLOGY
Experience from master DMM leaders around the world suggests that the fewer hierarchical leadership words you use when referring to leaders, the better. Don’t use any terms of privilege and status for leaders. They are to be avoided at all costs in DMM mass movements. We are all servants, not masters. The word leader is a sufficient title for anyone in any position of authority and leadership. Have the attitude of Paul toward leadership (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).
This goes for churches as well as leaders. Many DMM movements simply categorise their simple churches simply as:
- A church start
- A church
- A healthy church
4. A WORD ABOUT NUMBERS
Never measure growth by the number of baptisms. These baptisms could all be in Generation One churches with none in daughter churches! Rather than baptisms, measure growth by generations of churches: daughter church, granddaughter church etc. This shows a healthy DNA is present.
5. A WORD ABOUT FINANCES
The New Testament DOES NOT talk about tithing, even though many traditional evangelical churches do. The tithe was a form of taxation for the Old Testament nation of Israel. Instead the New Testament talks about a healthy generosity of spirit toward those in need (2 Corinthians 9:6-11). Simple churches generally don’t use the word tithing as it implies a legalistic obligation. Instead they use the word giving which implies generosity of the heart:
A healthy simple church is one that:
- Handles their own finances.
- Shares with those in need around them in the community.
- Shares as the Holy Spirit leads.
- Shares with those who they have sent out to start new simple churches.
- Shares with those over them in leadership who are working full time in the ministry.
- Leaders: Go through Revelation 2-3 asking the Holy Spirit to show you any areas that need to be changed in your own church where your church is stuck?
- Are there traditions holding your church back?
- Has a lukewarm spirit set in?