There are no formulas for how to start a simple church. The Holy Spirit must be the Initiator and Leader if a real church community is to be birthed. Even still, I can imagine some ways God could use you to birth simple churches:
1. LTG – As you and a friend or two begin a Life Transformation Group (LTG) and you see that LTG multiply into two LTGs, a simple church can be formed. It’s logical and natural that you say, “why don’t we all share a meal together?” If married, the husband’s and wife’s LTGs can come together weekly for simple church! There are many advantages to this because the multiplication of disciples is the building block of the new simple church!
2. Just Start Gathering – Sometimes it seems that the first logical step is to just start meeting as a larger group (large as in more than two or three). If so, then people can get together and simply start a “simple church” gathering! When starting this way, we encourage groups to begin LTGs as soon as possible so that personal discipleship is at the core of the community.
3. Luke 10 Principles – As you go the places God is leading you, look for a “person of peace.” This is a person who is open to the Gospel and welcomes you into his/her life and even home. A simple church family can be born as you go into a home to meet and eat with his/her family and friends. When this happens, the missional Christian life is modeled beautifully! Download the “Luke 10 Manual” for Free at House2House.
4. Split – When a simple church grows in size cutting the group in half can be an option.
5. Sending out in pairs – Rather than “splitting” an existing simple church, we suggest sending out a couple or two to begin a new community that is comprised mostly of new friends who do not go to church or are not yet believers. Sometimes it’s even possible for one simple church to become three or four simple churches quickly when this approach is embraced and people are willing to “go.” In addition, sometimes simple churches can send people out for a season to start a new work and once that work is established then they may primarily return to their original simple church.
6. “Small Group” to Simple Church – Perhaps you are a part of a group right now that functions much like a simple church, but still are tied to traditional trappings that are preventing you from fully functioning as a local church. It can be hard, but if everyone (or at least the majority) of the group is on board to becoming a simple church, then committing to the idea and to each other can make it possible.
7. Interest Group to Church – Sometimes having a non-Jesus centered gathering can become a church! Book clubs, gardening groups, coffee and doughnuts with neighbors, and other types of groups can be transformed into a church. When this happens, often times many people experience “church” before they even know to call it that.
8. Traditional Church to Simple Church – If the leadership of a traditional church is truly willing to release folks from their congregation to plant new autonomous churches, then a pastor can help initiate and encourage one of the ideas listed here. This is in part how the Simple Church Alliance was birthed!
NEW: 9. A Zumé Training Group. – The 10-week training over at www.zumeproject.com is designed to help people rethink the Christian life, the local church, and the mission of Jesus such that new simple churches form and multiply. All the lessons are excellent. While not intended to be a formula or silver bullet for starting simple church communities, Zumé does help facilitate interactive, practical, and experiential training that is foundational to starting healthy simple churches. It could be that a Zumé training group could become a simple church or even multiple simple churches at the conclusion of the training!
What could potential blessings and challenges could arise out of starting simple churches in each of these ways? Have you seen simple church formed in another way? We’d love to hear from you!