Simplifying Some Life Issues

Simplifying LifeI took a break from writing for a few weeks. There have been a lot competing issues in our lives and it was difficult for me to concentrate on the blog.

Now, mind you, I did not give up coffee or conversation – just blogging. I’m more of an oral communicator and many times putting words on paper or the digital page does not come easy for me. I needed to simplify life a little, so I put the blog aside to concentrate on some important family matters.

I plan to start posting again tomorrow, so get your coffee cups ready and let’s share some ideas together.

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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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Living With The Mission On Our Mind

We have many “missions” every day. We may set out on the mission of going to work to earn a living to sustain our family or going to the grocery store to replenish our food supply. Our mission might be a trip to the Doctor’s office seeking to restore our health. One of my missions, picking up my grandsons after school, is over for the summer but other missions will take its place.

I have come to see all these missions as the means to fulfill a greater mission. As I go about these daily routines they enable me to participate on the mission on which Christ has sent me. In The Tangible Kingdom Hugh Halter writes:

“When I walk into Starbucks, I don’t think about coffee. That’s predetermined . . . tall black Americano. I ponder the lives of everyone I see. I wonder about their spiritual journeys, their highs and lows . . . and where they look for direction in their search. My initial assumption is that in any room full of people, very few know Christ. I ask myself how I could get into their lives or how a conversation might begin. I don’t see them as projects — that wouldn’t go very far. I see them as souls the Lord loves who simply haven’t seen or heard an accurate message about the Kingdom. I always feel confident that I may one day be talking with them about life and God. Oddly enough, this seems to happen all the time.”

As you set out on your missions this week see them all under the umbrella of our great mission –

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 NIV

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

Pledging Ourselves To Live Worthy Lives

When our simple church gathered this week Bill brought a copy of Dr. Darrell Bock’s Studying the Historical Jesus. He wanted to share a quote by Pliny the Younger from a letter written in A.D. 110/111.

In regards to the practices of the early church Pliny wrote:

“They had been accustomed to come together on a fixed day before daylight and to sing responsively a song to Christ as God. They bound themselves with an oath—not to commit some crime—but, on the contrary, that they would not commit theft, nor robbery, nor adultery, that they would not break faith, nor refuse to return a deposit when asked for it. When they had done these things, their custom was to separate and to assemble again to partake of a meal, common yet harmless.”

Here are some things we unpacked from that quote:

  • they were accustomed to coming together on a fixed day
  • they worshiped Christ as God
  • they were accountable to one another to live godly lives
  • they participated in life together through meals

Georges Boujakly at Missional Order recently posted about Ethical Relativism and he writes:

“New converts and long time converts, researchers tells us, are not shining stars of holiness, reflecting the image and glory of Christ. Instead of being conformed to His image, being changed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), many have adopted a willing conformity to the world.”

We get together regularly, worship Christ and eat a lot, but how good are we at holding one another accountable to live Christ-like lives?

How much of an impact would we have on society if we pledged ourselves to live lives worthy of Christ when we leave our gatherings? What would such a practice look like in our church meetings?

Grace and peace,

Terry

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Church – The Household Of God

Running out the front door he followed me to my car. Not many of the words coming from his little mouth were intelligible but one was distinct, “church.” I thought he was asking if the church was meeting that night and I said that we would get together later in the week.

A few months later his vocabulary had improved. Spying some bottles of soft drink on the kitchen cabinet he asked, “Church, can I have some of that?”

Looking at him with inquisitiveness I replied, “What’s my name?”

Without hesitation he said, “Church.”

I’ve been called a lot of things, but church is one of the most unique and I kind of like it.

One of the things we have tried to do in our simple church is to change our language about church. We are trying to replace, “We’re going to church” with “the church is meeting at David’s house” or “The church is meeting in the park.”

For too long we have thought of church as a building. We have made it some place we go on Sunday. I think it is time we recapture the concept that the followers of Jesus are the church. We are the people of God. We are the body of Christ.

Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 NIV

Waving as he came through the door the other day, Johnny looked at me said, “Hi, Church.”

I have a challenge for you. Change the way you talk about meeting with your church family. Replace “We’re going to church” with “the church is meeting at …”

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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