1. THINGS DO GO WRONG!
The New Testament is riddled with examples churches that went off the rails (Romans 16:17-19, 1 Timothy 6:3-5). You only have to read Revelation 2-3 to see how error quickly entered the early church. Satan wakes up when the Church takes ground and he will often use human nature to lead the church astray. Correct teaching and an emphasis on obedience to Jesus right from the start of a disciple’s life in Jesus minimises these problems.
The typical problems were:
- 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 if 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 suggests that the less hierarchical leadership terms you use, the better. This goes for churches as well as leaders. Many simply categorise their simple churches as:
- A church start
- A church
- A healthy church
Don’t use any terms of privilege and status in leaders. They are to be avoided at all costs in DMM mass movements. We are all servants, not masters. The word leader is sufficient designation for anyone in any position of authority and leadership. Have the attitude of Paul toward leadership (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).
4. A WORD ABOUT NUMBERS
Never measure growth by baptisms. They could all be in Generation One churches! Rather measure growth by generations of churches.
5. A WORD ABOUT FINANCES
The New Testament does not talk about tithing. Instead it 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 the lord 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. Are there any areas where your church is stuck?
- Are there traditions holding your church back?
- Has a lukewarm spirit set in?