One of the reasons I decided to start blogging about my experience with simple church concerns the perceived sheer impossibility of doing what the Holy Spirit instructs us to do through the New Testament.
Seriously. How is it possible for us to accomplish all those one anothers without having a person duly licensed and designated as the organizer and director of events?
The theory behind the simple church concept is that when we gather in Jesus’ name, under His leadership, the Holy Spirit will actually lead us. For those of you who are having a hard time seeing how that theory works in practice, be encouraged.
I think there’s powerful blessing in stories about how God is moving. This blog is intended to share, with anyone who will visit, what God is doing as some friends and I seek to obey His instructions to the church.
I shared earlier this week how at our last meeting, we were encouraged to begin linking with believers around the world who are working to advance the gospel. All of this is happening with our children around us and participating with us. They are not just hearing the stories, but witnessing first hand how God is leading and teaching their parents and other adults.
This week was a good one for the kinds of encouraging stories I’ve been talking about.
First, Jim Wright shared about an experience at a Super Bowl party.
About fifteen minutes later he came in the door with another motley crowd of his closest friends from the surrounding woods. They settled in and felt right at home, as we razzed each other over who was scoring, who was fumbling, and all the other things that make watching the Super Bowel with friends lots of fun.
The husband – as just part of his normal life – often goes out of his way to talk to, hang with and be part of the lives of men living in the woods in his end of the county. They know him, and he knows them, as friends. His wife is just as natural, open and embracing, and they are now part of her life too.
At that point we gave Rosa a few minutes to collect herself, and then called her children into the living room. Rosa bravely shared for the first time with them the truth about what what had been going on and why dad was no longer living with them. I thought she did a wonderful job of balancing the pain, while at the same time affirming that both parents loved them, and that they were not at fault for anything that had happened. We gave some time for the children to talk and ask their questions as well. Then all of us huddled around the family for another time of prayer.
Then Alan Knox posted a story about a group of believers who changed their plans to bless a friend who could not make the regular meeting location.
Last week, one of our brothers in Christ called her and asked if we could gather at her home instead of our normal meeting place. She said she would love that. So, he sent out an email and got on the phone and made sure that everyone knew where we would meet Sunday morning.
We talked, read Romans, prayed, shared, sang, laughed, cried, and ate together in our sister’s living room and kitchen. She was able to sit for while, stand for a while, and, then – when she couldn’t sit or stand – she was able to lay down in her bed.
Why would my friend go to all that trouble to change our meeting place? Why would our sister allow a bunch of people into her home?
Because people are the church, and people are important.
If you’re out there wondering if those who follow Christ can really put the theory of simply following the New Testament instructions on church, than it seems to be you can take heart. We’re just starting small, starting with a commitment to obey the basic commands of Christ – beginning with love one another, and trying to observe Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19-20.
I don’t think we need to rush into asking for outside help, appointing elders, or any of the other items that seem to be checklist items for new churches. I’m not sure most of the how-to books are necessary.
However, knowing others who have experience in participatory church has been a source of strength and encouragement. I’ve also found it helpful to read as much as I can about the experiences of others. The New Testament instructions on church provide a sure foundation and safety cross-check for the inputs of others.
Along the way, God’s been providing gifts – of people, and of spiritual abilities.