Simple Church – Something More?

Continued from last time…

Some who left the IC registered concern with the clergy/laity dichotomy typical there as well as a heavy-handed authoritarian structure that felt “artificial,” “stifling” or “exclusive.”  Again, these people aren’t perennial malcontents, fruit loops or flakes.  These are solid, sincere Christians who expressed honest concern and frustration with what they perceived to be a “rigid, inflexible” structure that stifled creativity, authenticity and real spiritual growth.  They weren’t leaving the IC because they lost their faith; they left to protect their faith.

Weary of  Gender Wars

Interestingly, a few intrepid women and men with whom we talked expressed a growing disillusionment and frustration with “gender discrimination” within the IC.  They grew weary of an “old boys club” paradigm that excluded women from church leadership and other key positions or roles.  “Disrespect” and “smothered” or “slapped down” were words that kept cropping up.  (Comments came from self-identified “conservative evangelicals.”)  These people affirmed “service by gifting and calling, not by gender” and found themselves “like fish out of water” in their particular IC context.  They left and are serving the Lord “full-throttle” in other contexts, sans the gender shackles and stereotypes.  (For more on this, see Kevin Giles’ excellent article on “House Churches” in the Winter 2010 issue of CBE’s Priscilla Papers as well as his Patterns of Ministry Amongst the First Christians.  Also check out:  House Churches: Facilitating Community, and  Leadership in the Early Church.)

Evidence of Hope?

This may sound negative or critical  – maybe even threatening –  especially if you’re trying to keep your institutional church afloat.  But look again.  Isn’t the frustration and disenchantment expressed with the “IC status quo” actually a sign of life, evidence that people are looking for something “more” from their “church”?

Your Turn

Simple Church (or “organic church”) may not solve or address all these issues/concerns and we’re not suggesting you bail out of your IC if that’s where you feel God wants you.  Just realize that the IC isn’t the only option.  You can worship, serve, reach out, grow and be the church outside of a building or a committee-driven institution.  Whatever your view on “church,” if the discussion spurs real change, real movement, real thought and deeper dives into the heart of God as a result, won’t that be a good thing?

What do you think?  What’s your “church experience”?   We’d like to hear from you.

For further reading ( NOTE:  Listing here does not necessarily imply endorsement.  You’re encouraged to do your own digging):

Simple Church Resources from Amazon

Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples

by: Thom S. Rainer, Eric Geiger

Amazon Price: $13.59 (as of 10/28/2009) Buy Now

Revolution

by: George Barna

Amazon Price: $12.23 (as of 10/28/2009) Buy Now

Houses that Change the World

by: Wolfgang Simson

Amazon Price: $8.79 (as of 10/28/2009) Buy Now

The Church Comes Home

by: Robert J. Banks, Julia Banks

Amazon Price: $12.21 (as of 10/28/2009) Buy Now

For Further Reading:

Revolution by George Barna is a must read for anyone interested in house churches. He articulates the reasons why 20 million believers (between 2000-2005) left local typical churches in their search for God.

The American Church In Crisis by David T. Olson, 2008, provides you with some of the most recent research on the spiritual and religious trends of North America. A must read.

Missional House Churches by J.D. Payne, 2007, chronicles a research study on house churches found in North America.  Highly recommended for current church leaders.

unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons is sobering.

The Search to Belong by Joseph R. Myers explains a paradigm shift and what it means to “belong” in today’s world. This book is very challenging, especially in how a church relates to the question of belonging. A must read for current church leaders.

Revolution in the Church by Russell Burrill is a short and easy read that prepares the way for the coming Revolution.

Evangelism, and Gospel workers, by Ellen White. These two books are recommended by Dr. Cho, pastor of the worlds largest church in Seoul Korea.

Fire Your Pastor: hope for a lost world by Lonnie Wibberding. This book has an edgy title but it is well written and is recommended by Russell Burrill. A free PDF copy is available at www.FireYourPastor.org Lonnie in an Adventist pastor serving in Pennsylvania.

The Present Future – Reggie MacNeal

Reimagining Church & Pagan Christianity – Frank Viola

+++

Up next: a nine-part series based on 10 Lies the Church Tells Women by J. Lee Grady.  (The inaugural post for the “10 Lies” series is entitled, So What IS ‘Biblical Womanhood,’ Anyway?, followed by “Biblical Feminist”: Oxy-Moron or Real Deal? Because it’s stirred significant interest, we’re launching a series on “Spiritual Abuse“  in late March.

See ya soon!

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