Simple Churches in a Complex Culture

As a pastor who has sponsored many new church plants, I am always excited to meet people who want to start new churches. All the research shows that new churches reach new people faster than old churches. The Southern Baptists (who keep immaculate records of this sort of thing) have reported for decades that the baptism-per-member ratio of new churches is five times better than that for existing, older churches. That alone is a good reason for mission-minded, ourtreach-oriented pastors like me to be enthusiastic about helping new churches get started.

Part of the success of new church plants comes from their intentionality in looking for and finding new ways to break into the non-churched culture with the gospel. While the gospel message itself never changes, we way that we “package” it, in other words, the way that we do church, is always changing.

Twelve years ago, when I was sponsoring church plants in Texas, I could outline a mathematical formula for planting a suburban church. You stared with a church planter, added 10 people, and had a core group. A core like this would produce $60 per person per month– you could count on it. For worship space, you needed fifteen square feet per person and for Sunday School classes for kids; you needed thirty five square feet. A rule of thumb for small church budgets is that one-half of the offerings can go to personnel, while a third to facility and rest is applied to program expense or invested in missions. With these parameters, the math is not difficult to do.

When the group reached 100 people, they would have $6,000 per month income. This presupposes a “middle class” congregation of mostly regular people. We did some plants among special ethnic groups, like the Cambodian refugees in our zip code, and obviously, the giving ratios were less among that group.

By typically, a group of 100 people could easily fund a pastor with half of their offerings. Another third would rent 3,600 square feet in a storefront shopping center (at six dollars per foot per year). By the time the new church reached 200 in attendance, they had the wherewithal to fund their part of buying land and constructing a new building. About $300,000 would erect a first-unit building complete with a gravel parking lot that could be paved when you got around to it. Texas Baptists built a lot of churches that followed this formula in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Fast-forward to where I serve today, Denver, Colorado, in year 2009, and you can forget all the formulas presented above! The old template just won’t work. Grow a new church to 100 and they will barely be able to afford rent in another church, let alone a storefront. Storefronts can run $3,000 to $6,000 for basic space. Giving-per-person ratios might be higher, say $80 per average attender per month, but with 70 people the rent could consume their entire budget. Yikes.

Grow a church to 200, even with $16,000 per month in offerings, and they are not going to build anything in today’s hostile-to-church-building climate. Property and building costs on the edge of Denver, for a new “first unit church facility,” would be closer to $3 million than they are to $300,000. No way a church of 200 is going to build brand new building, without a great deal of outside assistance.

One recent example is Faith Mountain church in Lakewood, Colorado. As a successful plant by any metric, they average more than 200 people a week and have seen 500 people attend on Easter Sunday. They were able to purchase an old abandoned theater, but only with major financial underwriting from a denominational-oriented capital funding agency.

Another successful plant in our area is Mesa View Church in Golden, Colorado. Mesa View has met in different churches (at off times) and was renting a storefront for $2,000 a month when the rent jumped overnight to $3,000. They are a congregation of less than 100 people, so they are back in another church.

What we need is a new template, a new formula. I used to say that if you wanted to reach 1,000 people, just plant 10 churches of 100 people each, or if you can pull it off, plant one church of 1,000 people. People today tend to want to gather in the large groups of 1,000 or more, for reasons that aren’t particularly scriptural. But to plant a church that large, a planter would need a “launch team” of 200 people or more. The new church must be large to start with and grow quickly.

Today, I’m thinking we need to get smaller in order to grow larger. To reach 1,000 people tomorrow, maybe we need to plant 100 churches of 10 people each. It could be that the “micro church” (also known as the “simple church” or “house church”) movement may be the tool that God is going to use next.

Simple churches are working in Denver. Imagine: a church with no “spectators,” where everyone participates. A church that features relational discipleship and functioning church discipline. Imagine: a church with no debt and a very simple budget. This church gives to missions, and it also gives to the poor. A church “where everyone knows your name,” (picture the Cheers bar from the TV show) where hardly anyone gets paid, or needs to get paid.

Simple churches come in all socio-economic sizes, ethnicities, and languages. And they come with all sorts of problems, including (but not limited to) parking, child care, pastoral training, doctrinal purity, and improper relationships. (Sounds kind of like our regular churches, doesn’t it).

Best of all; imagine a church that easily reproduces itself, because it has the concept of creating new churches built right into its DNA. When a simple church that meets in a house grows to more than 20 people, it feels like a mega church inside that house. The people will be more than willing to “divide and multiply” like a biological cell.

Not that the simple church will replace the need for regular, or large, churches. That isn’t likely, at least for another century or so. But the simple churches can work alongside the rest of us, and reach many people we’re not likely to touch. Simple churches will be a challenge for us. As established churches, how do we recognize them and support them? They will also be a resource for us, and a blessing to us, and a partner alongside us.

And one more thing: Simple churches do look familiar to us – they look a lot like the churches in the New Testament. They have some of the same problems and suffer some of the same maladies. And they survive – oh yes, while the mega churches may turn out to be a late 20th century cultural anomaly, the simple churches will survive — history being on their side for the last 2,000 years.

7 Ways to Identify a False Church

There is certainly lots of churches around. There’s Lutherans, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Baptists, Seventh-day Baptists, Evangelicals, Charismatics, Catholics, Presbyterians, Mormons, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian Science, Non-Denominational’s, Jehovah Witnesses, and so on and so forth. The amusing issue is that any time you request any of those, “Are you guys a phony church?” They may all say no. Some may perhaps even begin to inform you how all the other types are wrong church buildings and exactly how theirs is definitely the only perfect 1.

So how does one detect a phony church? I’ll tell you another thing, you don’t do it by pinpointing how fantastic the customers of that church are. Have faith in me, for those who at any time noticed a wonderful church, you could make sure you do not belong there – and neither do I. Still, the Bible does give us route in terms of false churches. I would wish to share seven procedures the Bible helps us to find a bogus church after which stimulate you to you can ask the Holy Spirit for steerage as you look for for the place God would like you to definitely be.

1. “For the partner is the head in the wife as Christ stands out as the head on the church, his system, of which he’s the Savior.” – Ephesians 5:3

The main option to detect a wrong church is by inquiring the dilemma, “Is Jesus the pinnacle of the church?” In case the solution is no, then I assure you, you possess just walked into a phony church. The head of the a fact church will almost always be Jesus Christ. Not some so termed prophet, preacher, or trainer but Jesus Christ. Any church that doesn’t have Christ as its head is a phony church.

2. But regardless if we or an angel from heaven have to preach a gospel in addition to the a person we preached to you, let them be below God’s curse! – Galatians one:8

The next route to establish a untrue church is by asking the question, “Does this church preach the gospel of salvation the way the Bible preaches it or no?” If your reply isn’t any, then it can be a phony church. So how does the Bible preach the gospel? Here is a superior summary:

For it can be by grace you could have been saved,because of faith-and it’s not from yourselves, it is the present of God-not by works, making sure that not a soul can boast. For we’re God’s handiwork, built in Christ Jesus to complete decent is effective, which God well prepared upfront for us to attempt. – Ephesians 2:8-10

See this textual content teaches 3 important things:

a. We’re saved by grace by using religion. Any church that teaches that we have been saved by our very own performs, that we’re saved other than Gods grace, or that we’re saved in addition to religion is preaching a fake gospel.
b. Gods grace can be a present. Any church that teaches that Gods grace ought to be attained by subsequent sure guidelines, believing certain things, or preventing some things is preaching a fake gospel.
c. Gods grace provides very good will work. Any church that teaches that Gods grace presents us a license to stay in sin is preaching a fake gospel.
In summary, any church that teaches that we have been saved by our personal works, that Gods grace ought to be gained, and/or that grace gives us a license to sin is a untrue church.

3. We really like given that he initial cherished us. – 1 John four:19

The third strategy to establish a false church is by inquiring the thoughts, “Does this church adore persons?” and “Does this church like God?” The solution with the 2nd is set because of the solution on the primary. If a church would not fancy many people, then it won’t really enjoy God. Any church that doesn’t appreciate folks the way in which God does is a untrue church.

4. If you happen to really like me, preserve my instructions… Whoever has my instructions and retains them is the 1 who enjoys me… Anyone who enjoys me will obey my instructing. My Father will absolutely adore them, and we are going to appear to them and make our home with them. Any one who would not like me will not likely obey my training. These text you hear are certainly not my own; they belong towards the Father who despatched me. – John 14:15, 21, 23-24

The fourth tactic to determine a bogus church is by inquiring the question, “Does this church obey Gods instructions?” Gods instructions are classified as the ten commandments recorded in Exodus twenty. Any church that teaches that Gods commands are no lengthier legitimate, which they do not have to be saved, or that its Alright to break them (licence to sin) is often a wrong church.

5. All Scripture is God-breathed and is also invaluable for instructing, rebuking, correcting and working out in righteousness. – two Timothy three:16

The fifth technique to detect a phony church is by asking the dilemma, “Does this church trust inside the Bible?” Any church that does not presume on the Bible, has its own bible one of a kind only for their denomination, provides to or normally takes from the bible, or rejects parts of the bible is known as a untrue church. The Bible, from include to include, is Gods term. Any church that teaches usually, or that tries to say the Bible is incomplete, or subject to another mans (or woman’s) “inspired interpretation” is usually a false church. The Bible has to be our only rule of religion and follow. As I when listened to a preacher say, “If its while in the word it deserves to always be read.” To which I incorporate, “If its not inside the word it does not should be heard.”

6. By this everybody will know that you could be my disciples, if you should really like each other.” – John 13:35

The sixth approach to find a untrue church is by asking the dilemma, “Do the men and women in this church like one another?” Any church that may be judgmental, cold, official, hypocritical, and hostile toward by itself and many people is actually a untrue church. Regardless if this church has most of the suitable teachings and its theology is 100% accurate it’s always however a untrue church with no need of cherish. Jesus do not ever says individuals would know us by our faithfulness in preserving the 10 commandments, doctrinal purity, musical variety, or dress code but by our enjoy for one another.

7. Then Jesus came to them and says, “All authority in heaven and on earth may be specified to me. Due to this fact go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the title of the Father and for the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey every little thing I’ve commanded you. And absolutely I’m along with you often, on the really close for the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20.

The seventh and last process to establish a false church will be to check with the inquiries, “Is this church lively and devoted to preaching the gospel to the earth?” Any church that feels that salvation only belongs to them and that no one else has hope, or which is just simply to lazy or uninterested in sharing the gospel is known as a wrong church. When there is a single command within the Bible that is non-debatable it’s the command to inform the complete globe about Jesus. Jesus, our God and Savior, commissioned us while using endeavor of sharing the gospel inside of a joint procedure with Him. Any church that does not share the gospel can be described as loveless, missionless stagnant church designed to soon rot absent. It’s a false church.

To summarize, any church that doesn’t have Christ on the head, does not preach the accurate gospel, does not really like God and male, does not always keep Gods commandments, will not foundation all of its educating over the Bible by yourself, will not really enjoy its customers, and/or doesn’t share the gospel is really a phony church. On the other hand, if a church has Christ as its head, preaches the accurate gospel, enjoys God and person, keeps Gods commandments, and bases all its teachings on the Bible by itself you possibly can be certain it is usually a real church. So whichever church you go to or want to head to, check out each and every of such steps using your Bible to determine if it can be a bogus Church.[1] God bless!