So what is “simple church” anyway? Here is where you can find answers to some of our frequently asked questions …
Q. What Is Simple Church?
A. Simple church can mean different things to different people. It is often synonymous with “house church” or “organic church.” The simplest answer we can give is that it is a community of believers who come together to be the church where they live. Any Christian can lead a simple church and they usually consist of 6-14 adults and children. Meetings tend to be more participatory and flexible in nature and usually involve a meal together, communion, prayer, conversation, coffee, question-asking, and fun and laughter! There is also a time of teaching from the Bible, but it tends to be more of a dialogue than a monologue. The bottom line is that when simple churches gather, there is no formula. We really try to trust Jesus to be the leader of the meetings and many of us are finding out that it simply looks different each week!
See other: Simple Church Introduction Videos
Q. Why Simple Church?
A. In Fayette County, only %10 of the population will go to a church on any given Sunday. For many reasons (some good and some probably not so good), there seem to be many who are not interested in the traditional Sunday service. Simple Church Alliance exists for those who would enjoy exploring their faith in more of a relational or family environment than in an institutional setting. We seek to offer a different front door to the church in our community. We also believe that when you simply focus on making disciples in much the same manner that Jesus did in the Bible–something like “simple church” naturally and organically emerges. In short, we see simple church as a natural reproducible way of fulfilling the Great Commission in the tradition of Jesus and the New Testament.
Q. When And Where Do You Meet?
A. Simple churches can gather together anywhere and at any time. We generally encourage people to meet in homes and on Sunday mornings. You can find a list of the simple churches here. We encourage those wishing to visit a simple church gathering to contact the leader beforehand. Often times the time and locations change from week to week. Always, however, we see simple church as a way of life and not a way of meeting.
Q. What do you do at simple church meetings?
A. A simple way of thinking about simple church is to be apart of a community devoted to “doing Acts 2:42”- They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. How this plays out in each simple church can vary, but there are several articles and videos on this site intended to help you better understand the purpose and function of simple church gatherings. Here a few:
Simple Church Gatherings “When We Come Together” (Video)
The Lords Supper – The Reason We Gather?
Why Not One Another Each Other?
Listening to God (as a simple church)
Why Do You Come Together With Your Simple Church Family?
Generally, a simple church gathering will involve a meal together and space for genuine Christ-centered relationships to develop and flourish. This usually will involve a meal and perhaps some focused time of sharing prayer requests, experiences with God from the week, words of encouragement, etc. with each other.
Q. What About Kids?
A. Different simple church’s work with children/youth in different ways. Many of the simple churches involve children in their gathering times. This usually provides some of the more creative moments of the evenings! Sometimes the children teach each other lessons, adults sometimes share a lesson. Some simple churches may involve children with the adults for the entire evening. Some may allow the children to go and play together on their own. Each group is different and if you would like to visit a simple church then we recommend you speak with the leader about how children are involved in the meetings so that you will have a better idea of what to expect. Most of all, we are finding that our children end up being some of the best teachers in simple church as well as some of the most enthusiastic participants. We also are finding that there is something very special about being the church together with our children. Click Here to see some practical suggestions on incorporating children into your simple church gatherings.
Q. Aren’t Simple Churches Just ‘Small Groups?
A. Some find that when it comes to the gatherings, simple church can look similar to a “small group” (depending on the type of small groups one has been involved with). Simple Church, however, is about much more than that “meeting that helps people get to know others that go to their church.” We really do see each simple church as a local church–not as a ministry of a local church.
Q. How Do You Make Disciples?
A. This is a very important question. We believe that Jesus calls all of us to “make disciples” and that local churches emerge naturally and organically when discipleship happens. We also believe that Jesus is still the master disciple-maker and that he wants to meet all of us where we are and begin molding us into His image! This process is not programmatic or purely academic but primarily relational. Discipleship happens as we learn to live in a community with those in simple church and learn to hear and obey His voice (John 10:27). We recognize that simply gathering together once a week with 12 or so people does not necessarily mean discipleship will happen. Just as Jesus had Peter James and John, we believe that he often calls us to learn how to hear His voice, understand His word, prayerfully encourage one another, and even hold each other accountable to the truth He shares with us within the context of a close friend or two. While simple church gatherings are intimate and encouraging, they are not a silver bullet being a disciple who makes other disciples. We highly encourage everyone to engage in intentional disciple-making friendships that are based on Love. Many of us have found the Life Transformation Group resource to be helpful in getting started. This is not something we assign or mandate but see as central to “making disciples” and providing a healthy foundation for Kingdom life. You can learn more about LTG’s here and even begin one today with a friend you have–regardless of the type of church you are a part of!
Recently, this seems to have an important role in what we are learning through the simple church experience… Read: Rethinking the Great Commission
Q. Do You Have A Church Staff?
A. Each simple church has leaders and co-leaders that carry out the Biblical leadership roles defined in our New Testament. They are not paid staff supported by the simple church members. Gavin Duerson serves as a full-time church planter in the network and is in very much of an apostolic role–oversight of the entire network, leadership development, and the establishment of new simple churches and prayerfully new simple church networks.
Q. What Do You Mean By ‘Alliance?
A. We feel strongly that for each simple church to be healthy and encouraged that they stay in relationship with others on a similar path at some level. Each simple church or individual who connects with us does so voluntarily. There is no formal membership. Each simple church is it’s own independent church family with no formal connection to other communities. However, we are aligned through voluntary relationships and by shared values and a shared vision (see About) for what it means to be the Church. Those connecting here have a mutual desire to encourage and learn from one another as we live out the simple church vision in our respective homes and communities.
Q. What Does Giving Look Like In This Type of Church?
A. Believers are encouraged to give with a glad and sincere hearts and to give generously to expand the Kingdom. This looks different for different people. We encourage each simple church to give to needs as they arise and to support ministries that they feel led to support. When families and individuals give to The Simple Church Alliance they directly support the multiplication of disciples, leaders and ultimately simple churches in our city and beyond. The needs of the network are fairly simple and thus enable us to avoid many overhead costs traditionally associated with “church.” We also look for opportunities to support other C&MA missionaries across the globe through the Great Commission Fund. You can learn more about financially contributing to the multiplication of simple churches through the Simple Church Alliance and to our network church planter HERE . In addition, we have several articles posted on giving in simple church: “Simple Giving” by Matt Wheeler (one of the local simple church leaders) and “Giving In The Simple Church” by David Toth, who has helped with church planting in Eastern Europe.
Q. I’m Not Sure What I Believe About God. Can I Participate?
A. Simple Church Alliance exists is for you! It is our hope and prayer that if you are a person who desires to be a part of a group where you can be open and honest about your questions and engage in an honest search for God, that you will simple church to be breath of fresh air. Perhaps you have been “invited to church” before? We certainly invite you to one of our simple churches. However, because simple church functions much more like a family gathering than a church service you will want to contact the simple church leader before you visit. We have made that easy for you to do by clicking “Find A Simple Church” above. We think you will find your experience to be warm, welcoming, and engaging regardless of where you are on your faith journey!
Q. What Is Meant By ‘Open Meeting?
A. While every simple church is different (even different from week to week) it is our prayer that the meetings be “open” in the sense that each simple church allows for everyone to participate. We hope that in simple church you will come to take part in a dialogue facilitated by the Holy Spirit as opposed to a monologue led by one person. If you have a song you would like to sing, we want you to be able to share that. If you have a question to ask, we want to make time for you to ask it. If have learned something about God and desire to share it, then we want you to be able to do that in simple church. Of course “everything is to be done in a fitting and orderly way (1 Corinthians 14:40). We hope to foster a community where people come together to not only to share physical food but spiritual food as well! [/learn_more]
Q. What About False Teaching?
A. False teaching was a concern in the New Testament and it’s also a concern today in simple churches and traditional churches alike. We actually believe that the “open meeting” format allows for there to be a “check and balance” when it comes to false teaching. If someone suggests to the group a view or belief that is not found in scripture, others in the group have an opportunity to disagree. You see this same type of interaction in the early church ( 1 Corinthians 14). In fact, we think that an open environment where people feel comfortable sharing their views on scripture can be a great way of learning together as a group. We desire that people feel the freedom to disagree. This is not to say that all the knowledge of our church fathers throughout the ages is not important or to be taken into consideration when we seek to interpret God’s Word. The Christian and Missionary Alliance statement of faith also is a useful “big umbrella” guide in our simple churches as we seek to understand Biblical truth.
Q. Are You Affiliated With A Denomination
A. The Simple Church Alliance is not affiliated with any one denomination but works with Christians from multiple denominational backgrounds.
Q. How Do You Feel About ‘Traditional Churches?
A. We are not against the traditional church. This Simple Church Alliance was actually birthed out of a traditional church with the full support of their congregation! We are very grateful for all that our many great traditional churches are doing for the Kingdom. We simply feel that simple church is a biblical expression of the church that is Great Commission focused and that enables many who do not want to be a part of a traditional, program-centered church, to connect with the body of Christ.
Q. What Does Simple Church Leadership Look Like?
A. A simple church leader is someone who loves others because He first loves us. They are hospitable, and take an active role in the Great Commission given to us by Jesus in Matthew 28 …go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you... See the video posted in the “introduction” section above entitled “simple church leadership.” Also see:
Core Values Lived Out – The Kind of Leader We Hope To Be
In addition, we invite anyone leading or hoping to start leading a simple church ministry in the near future to join us for our monthly “Simple Church Training” gathering. Details can be found under “events.” They are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at our office located in the First Southern National Bank building (3060 Harrodsburg Road, Lexington, KY 40503) We start at 6 pm and are usually finished by 8 pm.
There is also a great blog article that addresses how a simple church leaders live out the core values of the Simple Church Alliance. Click HERE to read.
Q. Can I Visit A Simple Church?
A. Absolutely. Simply click on the “Simple Church” tab above and you will be able to see the different simple churches involved in our network. You can contact the leader of the simple church and inquire about visiting. We would note that often we find starting a simple church among family, friends, or neighbors can be a more natural way to find a church family.
Q. How Can I Start A Simple Church?
A. There is no formula for starting a simple church. If you feel God is leading you to start a simple church then we would love to pray with you about that and walk down that road alongside you. Please contact us and someone from our network will be in touch with you to set up a meeting. See also:
8 Ways To Start A Simple Church
Q. We Don’t Live Near You…Can You Still Help Us?
A. Yes. Our vision is to see a multiplication movement of disciples and ultimately simple churches beginning in Lexington, Ky and extending to the ends of the earth. We would love the opportunity to walk alongside of you as God builds a network of simple churches in your neck of the woods! Contact us to learn more!
Q. What Resources Would You Recommend To Learn More?”
A. Hopefully this site will be a good resource for you. In addition, we have recommended several books (some free for download) HERE. Other helpful sites that you will find encouraging:
CMA Resources – Lots of Talks, Articles, and Resources for Simple Church!
House2House.com – Lots of resources including a national directory of house churches
SimplyChurch – Felicity Dale Blog
Beyond Evangelical – Frank Viola Blog