Intentionally Simple

Intentionally Simple

Many of the alternative-church experiments I’ve been a part of were casual affairs. They started with very little in the way of concrete planning. In one case there was a little bit of planning that wasn’t clearly communicated to most the people involved. That lead to some suprises part way though and turned out to be a complete disaster in the end. Very casual groups can create a place where people can heal and such places are needed. Where they fall short is in fulfilling all the purposes of the church. Discipleship doesn’t happen without personal investment and commitment.

There will always be a tendency for people to sit back and watch the show. Even in a house church. There will also be people who are committed to more than one place at the same time. That gets frustrating because you will have a core of committed people who end up doing the lions share of the work and transients receiving but not investing. This is where the idea of a fluid church breaks down. You inevitably have people who are committed to people who aren’t committed back. It is hard to build trust and it causes frustration.

Last spring I started dreaming of a simple church network that attempted to go behind the goals of fellowship and personal spiritual nourishment. Something with leadership that is very active in equipping and facilitating ministry rather than dominating it. I’ve been in situations where the leadership style appeared very fluid and casual until the real leader, who would deny they are the “leader”, ran in to something they didn’t like. People part ways and in the end things aren’t that different from the top down approach people seem so allergic to.

I don’t think you can have a fruitful church without leadership. I think what you can change is whether the leadership is faithful, trustworthy, accountable and transparent. Are there mechanisms in place for everyone to be heard? Do people feel initimdated? Are their opinions valued and weighed properly? Is it easy for people to disagree? Are people’s gifts and talents identified and valued?
Thinking through these things has made me include that simple church doesn’t just happen when people get together. There has to be an intentional commitment to each other as people and to a way of approaching things so the community remains healthy. If a leader wants to facilitate and empower rather than take over the whole show they have to be very intentional in providing a safe place for people to step out or to share what they are thinking.

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