Everyone Left Our Simple Church… Now What?
By Gavin Duerson
For simple church to make sense and be sustainable, it must be missional. Sure, we hope that our simple church provides wonderful encouragement, community, fellowship for each other. We also know that God intends His church to provide that same body life experience for others not yet connected to Jesus. If we miss the missional aspect, we may become ingrown and see our fellowship fail to exist. While we learn to be more “missional” and outward focused, however, it can sometimes be the case that we see more people leave our community than we see new people welcomed into it. When this happens, we can often find ourselves alone and wondering what in the world we are doing. At these times, some of us find re-entering the traditional church world, something we once thought we would never do, start to look really appealing. After all, there would be actual people there and, at the very least, the potential of fellowship. Please know that joining a traditional congregation can be just what someone needs. I pray that we experience the freedom God gives in Christ to go and do whatever He wants. If, however, “going to church” again would be a fear-based decision and not for you then allow me to encourage you with two possible options:
1. Hang in there. It can be very difficult to essentially see your church family consist of only one or two other people. Sometimes we can be tempted to believe that we are “bad Christians” if go an extended period of time without a regular Bible study, prayer group, or simple church meeting to attend. Sometimes these moments become opportunities in which God works in special ways if we just hang in there. When a church family is super small the chance to welcome new people into the family is real and visible. Certainly seeking out something like a Life Transformation group while you wait (and any time) is important. Having at least one other person in your life with whom you are intentional about praying with, reading scripture, and confessing sin provides real encouragement to live out the Great Commission well. Also, the great thing about simple church is that we are potentially one conversation away from our church family doubling, tripling or even quadrupling in size! We never know when the Lord will bring a “person of peace” into our life. So we can be watchful! When we first started down this road our weekly fellowship consisted of just one other family for the first month (and a different family each week). They all ended up being involved in simple church and even starting their own simple churches.
2. ReGroup. Combining fellowships with another fellowship in a similar super small situation or regrouping with other believers that you have previously gathered with can be a benefit of a “network” of simple churches that often times is overlooked. I think people like me can miss the value of this because it seems to be a move backwards. But as Johnny Manziel knows (see below) sometimes you have to run backwards for the opportunities down-field to open up. I believe that this is true in simple church too. When we “regroup” we are not running backwards at all, but simply moving into position for God to advance his Love to new territories. We will do well to remember that fluidity is an advantage of simple church that God uses. We can be a part of a community, yet at a moments notice, be available to join or start a new simple church as opportunities open up. For many people in simple church, regrouping, waiting on the Lord, and beginning something new will become normal christian “church” experiences.
If we can help you connect with others doing simple church please let us know. You can also contact various simple church leaders under the “simple churches” tab above.