I recently attended an introductory meeting for new workers with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The more I continue to learn about A.B. Simpson the more I’m convinced that he would be all about simple church if he were with us today. The Alliance originated because of Simpson’s conviction that “Jesus Only” was all we needed. He broke away from the traditional established church of his day because of the extra biblical mandates that had excluded Italians he led to Christ from worship. He realized that the “noble people” in the pews were interested in a “conventional parish for respectable Christians.” He wanted “a multitude of publicans and sinners.”
In the early days of the Alliance, my understanding is that it was not a denomination but a “nerve center” for missions and helping people experience “the deeper Christian life” or a Spirit-filled life. For Simpson, this looked like decentralized groups of believers meeting in homes throughout the Northeastern United States for the purpose of growing deeper in their faith. They would also come together to be equipped at conferences and training centers established by Simpson for the purpose of sending people all over the nation and world as missionaries. It wasn’t until much later that these scattered groups would become more traditional churches.
This is very similar to the vision that we believe God has given to the Simple Church Alliance! We see ourselves very much being a nerve center that helps train and equip missionaries to make disciples in this region of the country, beginning with Lexington, Kentucky. We can see a day in the not too distant future where college students and individuals from all walks of life are trained and equipped to go out into the world as bi-vocational missionaries who see simple churches organically established “as they go.” Our prayer is to be a part of rapidly multiplying movement, very much like Simpson envisioned the C&MA being.
While there certainly are differences in the structure, see if you don’t sense any similarities in the heart of Simpson and the heart of simple church as shared in this video linked below.
Related Reading: For some reason, reading this article is what inspired me to write this blog: Simply Church: It’s Time For the House Church Movment To Grow Up!