Author Topic: Simple Church  (Read 3237 times)

James_Gale

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Simple Church
« on: January 08, 2009, 12:18:51 AM »
Is this really the future:  http://www.simplechurch.com?  Take a look at the YouTube video in the upper left of the page.  What do you all think?

It all sounds a little scary to me.  But I'm not sure that these people are entirely wrong.  Many today seem to network less and less through established institutions; more and more through intertwined and loose networks. 

pterandon

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2009, 07:31:40 AM »

POSITIVES:
1) There are folks on all sides of all controversies in the ELCA and the LC-MS who are saying to passersby, "Shun my denomination because of my adversaries within it!"  They seem to say, "I'm not going to fully commit to building up this expression of the body of Christ until those conservatives/liberals in Iowa/San Francisco are thoroughly vanquished."  To this extent, a denomination is just a place where folks gather to throw spears at those in the opposite corner of the room.

2) I'm all for throwing all the human-made "facades" on the dustbin of history, starting with 16th century embroidery. I once heard from a Madagascar missionary who got the people to play "A Mighty Fortress is our God" on ancient, indigenous, stick instruments-- he did not start an organ fund drive so he could do American Liturgy.


NEGATIVES:
1) Doctrinally, does this become "everything goes"?  Is it a fertile testing ground for generation of more Joel Osteen's and Spong's? Will it cause growth of those churches with the doctrines that are most man-pleasing?  It seems to invite even more church-shopping.   And that raises a question:  did 1st century Christians automatically go with the ten or twelve people closest to them to form a church? What if we all did?

Dave Benke

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2009, 08:33:43 AM »
I find this very fascinating.  "Organic church" is really a house church.  Like home schooling v. regular schooling. 

Or small group ministries inside an existing congregation.  Ecclesiolas in the ecclesia.

Or micro-synods of churches with buildings in the overall scheme of denominations.

The tighter, closer fellowship for the better, purer (perceived) experience of the Lord of the Church.

And it sounds to me as though there are a lot of burnouts from various kinds of regular churches in this movement, not just Lutherans tired of our incessant hacking and biting.  And a lot of people who just want to do their exploring of the faith without all the (perceived) trappings, like the ordained leader, the structure and governance participation issues, the facility and its demands, the organized and orchestrated worship. 

Your question, pterandon, is a good one, in my opinion.  This is selection of likes with likes to the max.  Since my own parish is now a template in our district of the "mosaic" model of parish, with bundles of not-alikes inhabiting the same space as a group exploring "family" of faith across all the lines, it's as though we're modeling the absolute alternate to "simple."  Complex, convoluted, leader-dependent, meal/liturgy-dependent in worship, difference-oriented, facility-hampered, learning-as-we-do, renegotiating daily.  I need to think through how to keep it more simple without giving up the ranch.  That's what I'm taking away from my first contact with this. 

They have a link to a youtube on one of these with a spoof on church as starbucks that's pretty telling, with traditional church being all about getting you to join and pay up and use all the insider lingo.  I'm just trying to pull together a way to do catechesis that gets at the basics without paralyzing folks from other language and cultural groups into that "I don't have a clue" stare.  My old buddy Don Matzat has a nice Law/Gospel course.

Thanks for the thought-provoking thread.

Dave Benke


vicarbob

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2009, 09:42:57 AM »
I too am grateful for this intoduction. As I continue to journey in faith, by grace, a constant has been on my mind, KISS. Keep it simple sinner. A simplistic example.
A joint celebration of the Divine Liturgy was offered at the church I serve. 2 denominations would be "leading" the Service. Lutheran and Episcopalian. It took some time for me and the other leaders to become familiar with the "liturgy" (ELW-Setting 3). Yet, the essentials,the general confession, the Creed, the reading of the Gospel, the sermon, the offering and the Great Thanksgiving and the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, required little review from the leaders and less from the assembled.
My point was the other 'stuff', beautiful traditions of processing with the magi to the Nativity Scene, do we incense the completed scene? Oh...you offer grape juice too, we NEVER do that...but, if its your custom........ Even the music proved to expose different styles and expectations.
KISS, keep it simple sinner.
For God so loved the world........
It's not complicated
It is grace-filled
KISS, the sign of peace......carry it out the doors andinto the world in need.
Simple Church
He came and died so that we may have life
Going therefore in repsonse to His command, the simple message of salvation
simple as a babe born in a manger
simple as Magi seeking Him out,
simple as standing in the Jordan River and the Voice calls Him His Own,
The Spirit decends
He goes into the wildness, confronts the evil one and casts him away
He heals the sick and raises the day
He chastises those who have made it so complicated to come to the LORD
He dies on a simple cross
BUT Rises!
And sends forth His Spirit so that we may be re-created and He renews the face of the earth
KISS

Team Hesse

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2009, 12:46:21 PM »
Sounds like our church.
Started in a home by folks sick of institutionalism and rules being imposed "from the top" that have nothing to do with how ministry ought to be done.
No building ownership or salaries to soak up funds, so we are able to reach out into the community where people most need it.  Makes us pay attention to our neighbor.
Lay led, small, cozy, and comfortable for those who 'get it.'

The positives:  all of the above.

Negatives:  many are not sure we are "really church"  without an ordained person up front.
    Doesn't take very long before you outgrow the house.
    Families have grown accustomed to having "programs" and "events" to send their kids to, and a big "youth group" (not just 2-3) of kids to do them with.
    Nobody is 'in charge' -- as in, when there is a difference of opinion on how to proceed, how to teach, what to teach -- in the absence of "someone" who is the authority, how is it decided what the teaching will be?  Although it appears that leaders  will and do emerge, and people gravitate toward those they trust to find these sort of answers.
    Sends people back to their Bibles to see what it really does say.
     Can become isolated and veer off into weirdness without a community to check back in with to be sure you're still on the right track.  I guess that is what this little 'networking' website is for, but as soon as little groups start networking, someone wants to get together for a national gathering then suddenly someone has formed a 501c3 and the group elects a governing board and there you go -- a new institution has been created  (LCMC comes to mind here; started as a network of independent congregations and now is basically a new Lutheran denomination with rules for 'joining' etc).  As quoted from the website forum, "you can take the man out of the intsitution but you can't take the institution out of the man."  Like a battered woman, sometimes it's way easy to return to what you left no matter how much you didn't like it there.

So now our little congregation has outgrown the house (at about 35).  And at times it looks like the room we are worshiping in will be too small someday soon (capacity about 85 tops has been hit 3-4 times).  We have some who think we need to call a pastor (just half time), and others who fear that doing so would lead us right back to an institutionalized thought process (with lay folk just following the leader and the leader doing too much leading).  If anything, a 'simplechurch' model is less simple and more work for members (if there are members?), to be honest.  We can't just put our hour in on Sunday morning and return the next week to do it again and assume someone on the payroll will keep things going the other 6.5 days of the week. 

Debbie

racin_jason

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2009, 11:52:50 PM »
Wow. We could talk for pages upon pages on the video.  I too found it facinating. So much we could respond to, as they seek to define themselves over and against what they characterize as traditional Christianity. Taking shots at people in the pew, the clergy class, and so on. I wish they didn't have so much of the New Testament to support their point of view, but they do. "Second reformation"?  Note the powerful use of music, as the piano gently and pleasantly undergirds the various testimonies.

I wonder what will happen when one from among them starts speaking in tongues in worship. Or, as has been mentioned above, when they stumble on a serious doctrinal dividing point?

Bottom line: try as they might, there is not, nor will  there ever be, such thing as a "simple" church. The video avoided the topic of leadership. I'd love to hear how they define it.

Church history is riddled with movements that have sought to get back to the basics. They either die out or become institutions.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2009, 11:57:50 PM by racin_jason »
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vicarbob

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2009, 07:29:58 AM »
Is the purpose of "church" to become an institution or is it to live out the Gospel in community? I submit that Church is that simple and glorious, the Body of Christ! The Gospel is not complicated. Love God....love one another . It's foundation is the Savior and its substance is the Holy Spirit moving through and in God's people.....us sinners, called to be saints.
It becomes not simple when "we" devise an institution which complicates the activity of GOD's Spirit in the life of the Church.
KISS Keep it simple sinner!
pax,
Bob
BTW, "institutions" die too, do we need to look any further then at ourselves? The Good News is that because He lives, we too shall have life!

edoughty

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2009, 09:20:53 AM »
Somewhere in the juxtaposition of bob's and jason's notes is what rings true for me. 

Dave Benke

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2009, 09:53:20 AM »
If you check the NT and, say, Corinthians, the house churches had a very definite ritual focus on the agape meal and the eucharist as the center of that meal/fellowship.  And that squared both with the rituals of the day in the social clubs that were out there (see Wayne Meeks' stuff), as well as connecting to the Jewish framework.  But it was outside the synagog and the social club and was its own thing.  The lifestyle differences were also a strong distinguishing mechanism from the rest of the religious world - "see how they love one another." 

In terms of "work," as Lou indicates, there is still lots to be done after the dishes are washed at the end of the meal/Meal.  When the guy in one of the online services indicates that they get together way MORE than once a week, I wonder what that looks and feels like in an intentional community.  I can tell you that this model is definitely happening in the "Covenantal" traditions in NYC, with groups of up to 50-75 forming rather than the mega-church Redeemer Presbyterian model. 

The folks who have barked about megachurches as their traditionalist parishes have shrunk to 25-50 present on a Sunday should be happy, in a sense, about this turn of events.  But the organic model is low-budget and low-on-ordained/trained-leadership, where the little parish has to find the bucks to support both a building and a pastor.  A conundrum.  One answer - dual/triple "parishes" and/or pastors with more than one way to receive compensation.

Dave Benke

vicarbob

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2009, 10:18:45 AM »
I am not sure as to what other way a pastor could be compensated save for outside employment. That presents its own unique set of difficulties. If I were an active firefighter-EMT-cop, don't know how that could happen. A typical M-F 9-5, possible but do were really want that?
Of course the good bishop is most on target with multi-congregations forming a single "parish". While some have been doing this, thus far in MNYS we haven't,at least to my knowledge really went full steam ahead. that is changing I believe. In the Bronx, we will be looking (yet again) at the situation. A pastor recently told me that he/she was drafting such a proposal, to which I responded, and the rest of us??? Was there input,most essential from lay leaders? Other pastors, heck even a vicar who has cure of a congregation.
I am priveledged to have a member of the church which I serve with vast experience in similiar areas. he's served on Synod Council, several church councils, community boards and not-for-profits etc. he says to me that he has been saying things for YEARs and has yet to see an initiative take off!
The "answer" is not yet another program, weeks of seminars and fancy slogans, its about getting busy about GOD's work AND the "institutions" have gotten in the way! Church is from the top down ONLY in so far as it is GOD Who on top and His grace flows down. "We" the CHURCH" respond from the bottom up in and with thanksgiving and then we interact laterally, with and for eachother.
Fact? how many ELCA or LC-MS churches do we "need" within several miles of eachother in an urban setting.....say, like the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens? Can we, under present polity work together? Asked and answered.
For the ELCA how about the same for our mission partners, say like the Episcopal Church? (I'm staying away from the "Reformed", I am at least that "confessional). Though I would like joint ministry with the Moravians and soon the sacremental Methodists.
I am sure that Bsp Rimbo and Bsp benke speak to eachother, i am sure Bsp Rimbo speaks with Bishops Sisk and Walker. Now after the 'talk"lets start "walking together".
Gotta go to the bronx, we MAY have heat and water by Sunday !
Pax,
Bob 

vicarbob

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2009, 10:53:29 PM »
Welcomed news from the MNYS, our bishop has invited the pastors (and those who have cure of a congregation) to participate in a gathering to hear ideas about how we can best carry out the mission of the Church within our synod (My words and understanding). Where this won't be "simple" it may "simplify" things and allow for constructive dialogue. And if I know my bishop, we'll be centered in Word and Sacrament! Its a very good step in the footsteps of the Master. While being elected by a margin of 4 is not a mandate to be sure, he is moving forward with the "mandate" of the episcopate, to be shepherd. Bsp Rimbo asked (and they accepted), two "former" (another thread to be sure) to assist with candidacy and clergy mobility. Sorta like Obama asking hillary to be Secy of State. Thank you Bishops Sundruck and Olsen for steppin' up! What Bishop Rimbo did was "simple", ask people to help, especially when their charisms are so apparent to all they have served and lead.
Now to "simplify" a synod which speaks 25+ languages into one which speaks with one voice.
GOD IS GOOD......
All the time!

Karl Hess

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2009, 11:19:31 PM »
Quote
The Gospel is not complicated. Love God....love one another .

That's not the Gospel.  It's the Law. 

Erme Wolf

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2009, 11:50:50 PM »
   A year ago I heard a wise pastor say these words:  "The Gospel is not that God loves you, though that is indeed true.  The Gospel is this:  Jesus Christ, crucified, is risen from the dead, and in him we too shall rise." 

vicarbob

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2009, 12:08:06 AM »
Thank you Erma for saying something and making a distinction which the previous poster could have, but choose not to. Another classic illustration of one who is more about "Law" then "Gospel". Law condemns, the Gospel frees. Funny thing is that each time I heard the LORD's Word to love, I heard Gospel. Silly me.
Yehp, simple church, simple message. He died for me!
Gospel trumpts Law every time, Thanks be to GOD!

Erme Wolf

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Re: Simple Church
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2009, 01:12:32 AM »
Thank you Erma for saying something and making a distinction which the previous poster could have, but choose not to. Another classic illustration of one who is more about "Law" then "Gospel". Law condemns, the Gospel frees. Funny thing is that each time I heard the LORD's Word to love, I heard Gospel. Silly me.
Yehp, simple church, simple message. He died for me!
Gospel trumpts Law every time, Thanks be to GOD!

Bob, when the Holy Spirit brings us to simple faith, trusting that the Gospel is indeed true and God's promises stand forever, then we can hear the command to love as joyful, grace-filled opportunity to live in the light of that Gospel.  The Law is always that, Law, but in the light of the Gospel it no longer feels like Law.  We can dare to love as Christ calls us to love (in our imperfect, simultaneously saint and sinner way) because, as Paul writes, we have died and our life is hidden in Christ. 

I better stop here before I say something heretical! ;)