One of the take-a-ways from my time with Lee Wood at our simple church conference was the simple concept of “two churches at the same time.”
One of the biggest challenges for simple churches is grasping how we can be a committed and intimate community of believers that also grows into multiple simple churches. Growing together and outward can seem at odds. Often, our minds are bent toward the “splitting” (grow the group and then split it in half when it gets too big). Others envision sending folks out of the group to start new groups as opportunities arise. Because we perceive that both of these options neccesitate saying goodbye to those we love and enjoy, we can be consciously or subconsciously averse to both. This is where being in two churches at the same time can be helpful.
For many of us, being in two churches at the same time sounds impossible. How can you be loyal to two churches at the same time? In simple church, we seek to embrace a “city church” mindset. Really, we are part of one church in our city that meets at different times and places as the Lord leads. As such, we can encourage and embrace engaging in multiple “simple churches” at varying levels of involvement and commitment at the same time!
I remember when Neil Cole visited with us several years ago for our Simple Church Conference. In the car ride to the airport, he shared how his family had been connected to the same simple church family for the previous 10 or so years; however, they had also assisted hundreds of simple churches start all across the globe. How? They embraced the idea that they can be in two (or more) simple churches at the same time.
As with any discussion of reaching out and multiplying, we must resist the temptation to make a rule or law. We also must never lose sight of the fact that we are not the ones building the Church. Jesus is. Any real multiplication will only happen because the Father is initiating and doing the work and we are simply walking in relationship with Him as He does this. Yet, I do think that helping others forsee how multiplication and growing closer to each other can happen at the same time (i.e. two churches at the same time).
We can admit that our natural bent is to attract and get folks to come to our meetings. This has been our model in the West and it’s hard to imagine a different picture. The fact remains that the church grew in the New Testmament and it is growing today as believers grow and go simultaneously.
Here are some ideas to help us do this:
1.) We go to them before asking them to come to us.
2.) Don’t underestimate Jesus to be with two or three gathered. Two people meeting for coffee could essentially be a “church meeting.”
3.) You can attend two simple church communities in your area for a season while you model and assist a new simple church’s formation in person.
4.) Embrace creative ways of communing. One person in our simple church right now has a S.O.A.P.S. group with folks in another state via text messages.
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