Simple/Organic Church Practices Archives

Participating With My Wife In Simple Church

Walking through the emptiness of the house I miss her, especially on this day – Sunday. Beth is getting to spend two awesome weeks with out daughter, Kerre, who is seven months with child. The past four days the house has been pretty empty, but it is today that I seem to miss her the most.

Why? Because in a few hours I get to gather with other members of our church and share a little life together and she will not be with us.

For the first 30 years of our our marriage we would “go to church” and not talk with one another for about three hours. When we arrived I would head off to some duty near the church office and Beth would make her way to teach a children’s Sunday school class. Later you could find me getting ready to  go into the worship center and she would be warming up her voice to sing in the choir. When the service ended I was meeting and greeting everyone while she was gathering her teaching materials. Finally we got to sit together in the car on the way home to try to talk a little about what we experienced. Something similar happened on Sunday evening on again on Wednesday night.

One of the joys of simple church is the way in which we are able to participate together with our friends. Here are some of the things that mean the most to me.

  • Together, we are in the same room
  • Together, we drink a little coffee
  • Together, we participate in mutual edification with the body of Christ
  • Together, we hear the Holy Spirit speak to us and through our friends
  • Together, we see and hear what God is doing in the lives of the children
  • Together, we share the overflow in our every day lives

I love participating in our simple church with my wife and with fellow believers.When we gather today, I will miss her, but I will enjoy being with my friends.

Grace and Peace,

Terry

Hosting Summer Church Meetings

While the churches in our simple church network meet on a regular basis during the week, we don’t limit our church activity to these set times and days. For us, we don’t “go” to church, we are the church. We practice being the body of Christ in our day to day lives. In these meetings we pretty much follow a 4 W’s format but always with freedom and flexibility and an emphasis on edification.

Our groups also gather for teaching and worship on Sunday and these meetings are marked by participation and sharing. This summer we are encouraging every member to sponsor or host a Sunday gathering of the church.

This hosting or sponsoring may or may not be in their homes. It can be in any location near their house or apartment. It might be in a park, a meeting room in a local restaurant, a parking lot, a back yard, etc. The time of the meeting will depend on the location and choice of activities.

We are doing this for several reasons:

  • To make disciples by encouraging attendance of friends and family members who might feel more comfortable at a location that a member hosts
  • To mature the body of Christ
  • To break the monotony of always meeting at the same location
  • To share responsibility and give those who regularly host meetings a break

How could hosting meetings such as these make disciples and mature members?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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5 Characteristics of Kindness

Being part of a simple church makes it possible for us to better live out the “one another” passages of the New Testament. In Ephesians 4:32 we are told to “be kind to one another.” As Christ followers, kindness should be a characteristic of our lives directed toward everyone and specifically should be expressed among members of the family of faith.

Being kind to one another is not a random thing. It is something that is to permeate and flow from our lives regularly on a daily basis.

Kindness is more than restraining from doing unkind things. It is a positive, outward and practical demonstration of our love for one another.

When the body of Christ gathers together kindness should be visibly practiced. It should also be present whenever we do life together. It is to be evident wherever we go.

Here are 5 characteristics of kindness:

1. Kindness is being aware of the needs of others and meeting those needs

(Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4 NIV)

2. Kindness is using words to build up one another

(An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. – Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

3. Kindness keeps the peace

(And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. – 1 Timothy 2:24 NIV)

4. Kindness is always looking for an opportunity to do good

(Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:10)

5. Kindness does not retaliate

(Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. – 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV)

When someone who is seeking to know what it means to follow Christ comes into our meetings will she see us being kind to one another?

Be aware of opportunities to show kindness to one another then next time your simple church, cell group or small group gathers.

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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9 Reasons A Good Welcome Makes A Difference

Most of us don’t have any problem knowing how to gather for a time of informal fun and food, but what can we do in a simple church gathering when we need a little structure? We have discovered that one of the best ways is to use a little outline that some call the 4 W’s – Welcome / Worship / Word / Work.

Welcome

4 W'sGood meetings happen when we are linked together and everyone present feels wanted and welcome. Even though we see and speak to one another often during the week we need some time to reconnect. The Welcome time should help us transition from informal chatting and visiting to a more focused time of edification.

Here are 9 reasons why I believe that a directed focus on welcoming one another into a small group, cell group or simple church meeting is important:

  1. We reconnect with the group no matter how well we might know the other members
  2. We get involved from the beginning
  3. We participate in an atmosphere of listening
  4. We feel valued as others listen to us
  5. We learn some fun things about one another
  6. We hear our own voices in a group setting
  7. We develop a sense of belonging
  8. We are reminded that we are the body of Christ
  9. We strengthen our “one another” bond before we direct our attention to God in worship, look into His Word and seek to see where He is working in our world.

What reasons would you add to the list?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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Many cell groups, small groups and simple churches use the 4 W’s as a simple and adaptable framework for their meeting times. Learning to implement and practice these four steps has greatly improved my ability to facilitate small groups.

Here are the 4 W’s with some simple insight as to how they might be implemented.

Welcome –

After everyone has arrived and spent some time in informal conversation the leader can ask an “ice breaker” question. This question is usually a “fun” question where the answers give us some insight into the personal tastes, preferences and backgrounds of those present. It is a question that everyone should be able to answer no matter their age or level of commitment to Christ. The icebreaker helps build community and allows everyone to participate from the beginning.

Worship –

At this point the leader or other member leads the group in 10 to 15 minutes of worship. The worship section might include singing, reading scripture or some other type of activity that helps us focus on the Lordship of Christ. Prayer can be offered acknowledging the presence of Jesus with us as we meet.

Word –

I have found that a good way to transition from worship to a time of letting the Spirit of God speak to us through the Bible is with another question. I choose questions that can be answered from the life experiences of those gathered. It is a question that requires no Bible knowledge to answer. After one or two have responded to the question we read the selected scripture passage. Rather than telling the group what the scripture means, the leader facilitates discussion through a series of questions. We trust that the Spirit of God will speak to the hearts of the participants through interaction with God’s Word.

Work –

The purpose of this step is to turn our attention from ourselves to those who need the very Word we have been talking about. It is a time to ask questions about those we know who need this truth we have discovered. We discuss where we see God working in the lives of those in our circles of influence. We look for ways to join one another in taking God’s Good News to our friends and family. We close this step with prayer and then engage in laughter, fun and fellowship.

We benefited greatly by following these steps pretty closely when we first started our group. Now we are able to adjust what we do when we gather. The 4 W’s are not “hard and fast” steps that must be followed every time the group meets but they help keep us focused on Christ. They can be our guide but should not be our master.

From time to time I will post some thoughts on the individual “W’s.”

Have you ever used this structure for a group meeting?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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Interviews Concerning Simple Church

The video below contains interviews with authors, pioneers and long time leaders of simple church. It is the “Special Feature” from the new When You Come Together DVD available from House2House.

Set aside 10 minutes with a hot cup of coffee or your favorite beverage and watch the video. Jot down some notes so when you finish watching you can leave a comment about some insights you have.

Here are 7 quotes that I gleaned from the interviews. Which part of the interviews captured your attention? Leave your comments or questions below.

“So much in legacy Christianity is basically a holy meeting – on a holy day – in a holy building – at a holy hour – with holy people – dressed in holy clothes – listening to holy priests.” Wolfgang Simson; Author: Houses that Change the Word – (1:02)

“Because most people when they think of the word church, they think of a building with a steeple on it – and that’s not what church is. Church is God’s people involved in doing God’s business.” David Watson; City Team Ministries – (1:35)

“But if we are going to really effect the nations of the world and multiply at the pace God wants us to multiply it has to be done much simpler.” Tony Fitzgerald, Church of the Nations – (2:08)

“If we are going to see many of the pockets of people in North America who are truly unreached people – people without church in their background – come to know Christ, it was going to happen through very different kinds of understandings of what it means to follow Jesus in terms of their relationships and organization” Kent Smith; Abilene Christian University – (2:29)

“It is absolutely essential that laypeople start churches.” David Watson; City Team Ministries – (5:54)

“The reality of simple church is the idea of living out the life of Christ in the midst of the people on a regular basis.” Mike Steele; Dawn Ministries – (6:21)

“I believe that because it’s been brewing under the surface for a long time it’s now to a point where you can’t go back – it’s unstoppable.”  Neil Cole; Church Multiplication Associates – (8:47)

Grace and Peace,

Terry