Church is supposed to be simple.
I haven’t read the book “Simple Church” yet, it’s been recommended to me and I’ll get to it someday. So my thoughts here may or may not reflect the same idea.
Church is supposed to be reproducible. Therefore, as complex as it might be, the process itself has to be simple. If we’re doing something that you can’t do somewhere, somewhen, someone else, it’s not Church.
E: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! Are you saying that our worship band isn’t Church?
CV: Well…wait, who are you and what are you doing on my blog?
E: I’m your ego. I’m always here.
CV: Fair enough. Well, I am saying that your/my worship band isn’t Church. It’s not reproducible by everyone, everywhere. It might be something that your/our church does to help facilitate communion with God and each other but it’s not really Church.
E: Get out! I’m using my spiritual gift.
CV: That’s questionable but for the sake of discussion let’s say it is. It’s still not Church, it’s something you do but it’s not Church. If you had another power outage on a Sunday like last year, would you stop being Church because you couldn’t use the keyboard?
E: Ah, o.k., I see your point.
CV: Church must be reproducible, therefore it must be simple. I’m not saying it’s not complex, relationship can be very complex and yet essentially very simple. All I’m saying is that we can do without most of what we do and call “Church”.
For that reason we need to ask “Why?” when we start adding things. And we need to ask, “What will this cost us?” Adding to the simplicity will always cost us somewhere else.
The first Church, and please read that “community of Jesus followers”, was simple. Many were illiterate, uneducated people. It had to be simple. It didn’t require literacy, didn’t require wealth or skill. You didn’t need buildings, campuses or multiple staff. There were no tax receipts to issue, no help from the government to apply for (but when government finally came on side it didn’t make things better or simpler). People, sometimes in pretty large groups, would meet and would take responsibility for each other. If they saw a need they met it or brought it to the larger community for help.
E: So you think everything new is bad?
CV: No, not at all. I just don’t think that everything new is good. I think we’ve accepted things that we’ve been handed as “normal” when it’s not really normal at all.
E: I’m afraid to ask what you don’t like. I hate change.
CV: No doubt it comes down to likes and dislikes at some level but hopefully that’s not really what I’m talking about. I guess I’m suggesting that just because it works doesn’t mean it’s healthy or the best. I am wondering if we haven’t gotten so busy doing Church here in NorthAm that we don’t even have the time or a will left to ask questions of a more diagnostic nature that take us beyond what works (Yes, throwing up after you eat will help keep the weight off, but…) and ask if it’s healthy. A body should be concerned about health, not just function – attendance, offering amounts, staff size and number of campuses.
E: Ah! You’re becoming one of those, “Church sucks!” pastors!
CV: Not really, I am actually loving what I do and the community with which I do it. I’m just finding that after 25 years of following Jesus I’m starting to ask “Why?” more and honestly E, I’m getting some pretty flimsy answers.
CV: Truthfully the most common response is the success response. “We’ve got 500 coming per service with 3 services every weekend. How many have you got?” My questions get disqualified because my team isn’t as big as their team.
E: I have to say I can see their point.
CV: I’m sure you can E, I’m sure you can.