In a previous post I gave a definition for what I think when I use the term “Organic Pastor” and you can find that post here. In this post I would like to help you understand just what I mean when I use the term “Simple Church Communities.”
My definition of the term “Simple Church Communities” is any gathering of people for the expressed purpose of worship, Bible teaching, and pastoral care that is regular and serves as the primary Christian fellowship for its attendees. It could be a house church or a small church or an expression of church that is non-traditional and consist of two or more according the promise of Matthew 18:20.
Simple Church Communities offer fellowship that has a more natural, simple, and informal process of being in community where the pastor is a shepherd (not an executive) and the gathering is relational (not religious).
Planting a Simple Church Community, in my opinion, is when God calls a man to pastoral care and leadership of the formation of any gathering of people for the expressed purpose of worship, Bible teaching, and pastoral care that is regular and serves as the primary Christian fellowship for its attendees.
Simple Church Communities are defined by a location, because they can meet at a home, a park, a coffee house, a workplace, a leased facility, a traditional church sanctuary, or anywhere people can come together.
The opposite of an simple church planting, in my opinion, would be a gathering of people whose coming together has been orchestrated by a larger entity as part of a replication plan. This would be more of what we use to call a mother-daughter church planting process or denomination-church planter process.
There is certainly nothing wrong or no reason to criticize such a process. I have planted 2 churches as a church planter when I was with the Adventist denomination. Both of those churches are still going well. The difference between how I proceeded with those 2 church plants in the 1990’s and how I proceeded with the 2011 church plant of CrossHope Chapel may give a better idea of what I mean when I say “Simple Church Communities.”
When I was the church planter for the 2 churches in the 1990’s I had an assignment to do so from the denomination which put me on their salary to do that. Not only did they pay me, they gave me funds to use for evangelism work and funds to secure a meeting place and any necessary material to do the replication of the denominations’ church program. The denomination was also instrumental in getting a few church members from neighboring congregations sent to help form a nucleus of the new church plant membership.
Simple church planting is dependent more on the Holy Spirit than on a denomination or a sending church. When I sensed the Lord calling me to start what became CrossHope Chapel I did not have a salary, funds for a building, or people sent from neighboring congregations to help form a nucleus of the new church plant membership. I only had a calling in my heart and the promises of God.
At the time I was working as a hospital chaplain and the pastoral calling in my life was beginning to burdening me to plant a church fellowship that was less traditional than the previous church plants I was involved with. (You can read more about this at the Our Beginnings page at the CrossHope Chapel website.)
I had a vision of a more authentic, relational, and informal gathering that was centered more on discipleship than programming or productions. I was burdened with a vision of church planting that was truly based on the promise of Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” It was a vision that relied on the Spirit of God, not a provided salary or budget or a waiting membership but evidence of God’s leading as a naturally developed church plant that would look like whatever God wants it to look like with whoever God sends to it.
At some point, after months of prayer, I made a commitment to begin a new church plant. I picked a start date about 8 months out and began sharing that with people I knew and on my social media accounts. It was a zero-budget endeavor that started out at a Ryan’s Restaurant, moved to my home, then 1 year later we leased our own public place.
To me, an “Simple Church Communities” is not defined by where it meets or how many people attend but by its approach to gathering and doing church together. I believe it has a lot to do with a biblical approach to being in community with a pastor that is a shepherd (not an executive) and a regular gathering that is relational (not religious).
If you continue to follow this blog I will continue to unfold my perspective and experiences on simple church planting and gatherings, too.
I am of the opinion that if God calls an individual to the pastoral gift of caring and teaching, they can answer that call without a dependence on being hired or given a salary first. If God calls you He will equip you and empower you to use that calling for the Kingdom of God.
Consider the promise of Matthew 18:20 where Jesus says “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”