Why “Simple Church”?

We’ve taken a brief (very brief) look at what “Simple Church” (SC) is and how it may look.  The next question is usually, “Why SC?”

Possible answers are as many as there are potential respondents.  This post isn’t intended to – nor can it possibly – provide a comprehensive overview of all the possibilities, reasons or perspectives why people choose SC over the IC (institutional church).   So we’ll limit ourselves to those that in our opinion number among the most salient.  Read on.

“The church, as a whole, is doing more and more. And the church, as a whole, is making less and less of a difference. Church complexity is costly. The cost is beyond time and money. The kingdom is not expanding. Lives are not being changed. Transformation is not happening. Churches are not growing” (Rainer and Geiger, Simple Church, p. 228).

Start at the Beginning

Is Rainer and Geiger’s statement accurate?

Well, let’s start with some research  by the the Barna Group, a  leading marketing research firm focused on the intersection of faith and culture.  Founder George Barna’s best-selling book,  Revolution (2005), issued a  predictive snapshot of the church in America as well as some sobering statistics.

A brief synopsis:

– Thirty percent of committed believers are no longer attached to a traditional congregation. (A traditional congregation is one that meets in a large group setting, is led by a pastor/board, promotes and leads programs by committee and funds their institution by the gifts of those who attend.)

– If the same demographic continues, in 20 years, 70% of committed believers will no longer be attached to the traditional church.  (Important note: Barna is NOT saying that people are leaving the traditional church because they’ve lost their faith.  They’re leaving to protect their faith.  Big difference.)

– Committed believers are leaving because the institutional church didn’t fulfill their spiritual hunger and wasted too much of their time and energy on programs and activities that did little or nothing to promote a deeper dependence on Jesus or healthy relationships with other believers.

– For more “eye witness” accounts, see Letters from Leavers.  Also see A Journey in Simple Church. (Click on Stories.)

Additionally, the View from Juniper Tree observes:

What Barna said created quite a firestorm of criticism from the establishment, as you can imagine.  What institution wants to spend the next 20 years vainly hanging on to their committee-driven vision, while year after year the most committed among them opt out for something no committee or elder board can ever provide, an authentic encounter with the living God and a deep and fulfilling relationship with His people?

Last week, in 3 separate conversations with passionate and committed believers, I heard the cry that seems to be building in the Family; “where can I go to find people who love Jesus, love each other and want to spend their time helping people find hope and healing, rather than sitting in committees trying to fire a vision for the same old thing?” (Been there, done that.  Bought the T-shirt.)

These were not negative, critical people but highly involved, motivated and Spirit filled lovers of the Father, yet they were as disillusioned with their church as they have ever been.

Does  this sound familiar?  If so, there’s HOPE!

More next time.

***

Also in the pipeline: an eight-part discussion based on 10 Lies the Church Tells Women. Because it’s generated significant interest,  a series on “Spiritual Abuse” launches in March.

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