Simple church is firmly on the agenda of church life in the western context. It is seen in the revivals of history – and again in the planting movements of Asia and Africa today. It is not synonymous with house church, although many are! Simple churches also gather in cafés, restaurants, book shops, gardens, offices or work places etc. They can exist in any place where believers want to share faith with their friends. It is not the same as small groups, although some of the principles are the same! Simple churches are church – they are not some ‘preliminary form’! They will not grow to be ‘real churches’! They reflect Paul’s New Testament gatherings – on the path of life, reproducible, evangelistic, multiplying, and intentional. Three dangers threaten them – (1) they remain an idea that is not practiced by those promoting them, (2) them becomes complex when denominations get hold of them, or (3) they becomes insular and isolated – like some small groups and house churches.
Many of the church planting teams that I have worked with in Europe, the United States and Australia – as well as in Africa, Asia and the Middle East – use simple church principles, and two of the church plants for which I now provide pastoral support are simple church. Quite a few stories and resources in this NEWS relate to simple church.
It is some weeks since my last news. As well as joys (Judy and I have again become grandparents) and losses (my old Mum has passed away) – I had the privilege of returning to Papua New Guinea, after 30 years. This gave me the opportunity to visit churches I had planted 30 years ago! Check the comment below, Church Planting Lessons – 30 years on!
Think multiplication. Be courageous and proactive for God – and lost communities,
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 22 Nov 09 (check out www.newchurchlife.com)
Stepping Out in Canberra (Australia): STEP could be called an emerging church. It started from a ‘Kids in Discipleship’ group at the beginning of 2008. Participating families decided to have regular camps where they could invite their friends and share with them the love of God. From that the idea of having church in the bush developed. Once a month they go and gather – or ‘have church in the bush at a location close to Canberra. Worship is based around participation – if you come it is 100% participation 100% of the time. This involves songs, prayer, activities for adults and children, and Bible study. The day includes a shared meal – and walks in the countryside. STEP now has around thirty attending bush church with plans to move to fortnightly bush gatherings next year – and, weekly in the coming years as the group grows. People from the community join in. The plan is to reach out to the community and be a church environment that is non-threatening and participatory.
‘I Owe You!’ Recently Phil Brown, Church Planting Coordinator for the Western Australian Adventists, visited the groups forming throughout the north-west of the State. At Broome he met a guest attending church for the first time in her life. She was on a committee for a community organisation and took the minutes, but couldn’t attend a particular meeting. She asked the leader (a church member) if he would take the minutes for her – and asked what she could do in return for the favour. The church member said, ‘OK, come to church with me’ – and she came and said she would be back again next week. She has been participating in worship since!
The Watering Hole –
Summer gave great opportunities for ‘God conversations’ around ‘the many BBQ’s’ we held
A Youth Alpha course
Frontline advisors are working with 24 people providing either debt or benefit advice
Funkydz Church started up again after summer
Other clubs (puppets, card making, gymnastics, digital photography) have re-launched
Our Street Pastors go out two nights a month
During National Parenting Week (Oct 19-25) the Watering Hole team were asked to co-ordinate seminars on family togetherness (parenting and family life) throughout Totton
You are invited to join in daily prayer that God will create within people a spiritual hunger (see Deut 8:3) – with friends invited to join various Life Groups
House Churches in Western Australia –
A new house church is developing in Port Hedland with Barry and Sam Sisson, their family and some other young adults. Barry has been talking to his neighbour about spiritual matters and hopes to invite him along soon.
There is a regular gathering of a house church in the town of Tom Price.
A house church that meets fortnightly in Albany. Another meets on alternate weeks – with 9 unchurched friends and 2 former members attending. With children, there are 30-35 people in these two house churches.
Church planter, Pastor John Horvath, reports on a new house church in Toodjay – with 5 attending and one baptism so far.
A house church, led by Kerry & Kevin at the Busselton Adventist Camping Ground – has about 11 attending each week with 4 people preparing for baptism.
ACTS Church Plant at Curtin University is currently working towards forming a group on the UWA Campus starting with a house church group. Jasmine and Stephan Lares are working on this project. If you know of students at ECU who may be interested contact Sven Ostring [email protected].
Narooma Simple Church: At Narooma on the south coast of New South Wales (Australia), Keith and Elizabeth Ward are planting a simple church. They describe its as ‘a circle of friends sharing their lives with each other in Jesus’ presence, worshipping God and encouraging each other to follow Jesus and to share Jesus by His Word and Spirit, with the intention of birthing other simple churches.’ For them simple Church is church without the four ‘Ps’ – property, program, preaching or paid-pastors. They do follow a plan and they read the Word of God – but the ‘program’ and ‘preaching’ does not dominate. Their acronym is descriptive –
Sharing – all of life with each other and Jesus
Informal & flexible – listening to Jesus’ Word & Spirit
Multiplying – into 2 churches as soon as God allows
Participatory – each one contributes something, no one dominates
Loving – God & others through generous relationships
Eating – together regularly & involving others
Simple Church Practitioners:
· Bessie Pereira, the director of OIKOS Australia, has an enormous amount of wisdom re house church and simple church. Check out www.oikos.org.au and the blog www.oikos.org.au/blog.
· Peter Fowler is the Western Australia director of OIKOS and also coordinator the Adventist House Church Network in that State. Peter is happy for you to contact him – [email protected].
· Rudy Dingjan in the Netherlands has a lot of experience in simple church – as does Pierre Kempf in the south of France. Contact Rudy by email at [email protected] and Pierre at [email protected].
· David Cox has wide experience and is a huge resource on simple church. David can be contacted at [email protected].
· Milton Adams is cultivating a growing Adventist network of simple church. If you are ready to become a frontier missionary in your neighborhood check out www.SimpleChurchInfo.com .
From the Adventist House Church Network in Western Australia (Newsletter – Oct, 09)
Gatherings: On September 12, twenty people who are on the house church journey gathered in the Carmel College Assembly room for the larger quarterly gathering (there were equally that many who sent their apologies). Those attending were able to experience a new expression of being church without being dependent upon the structure of a specific program – and where every person had an opportunity to contribute.
Training Events: The first city wide training event for the year was held on September 6 at Advent Park. Thirteen people spent the day together to connect with a biblical model of the fast mobilization of house church groups – a catalyst for a movement.
Next Training Day: 28 Nov 09, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm @ seminar room 2 (opposite the ABC centre) at Advent Park, 345 Kalamunda Road, Maida Vale. Contact Peter Fowler [email protected].
Church Planting Lessons – 30 years on! Judy and I left Papua New Guinea at the end of 1979, so to return to Port Moresby to conduct a week-long ‘festival of faith’ at Pacific Adventist University gave me the opportunity to visit some of the 14 churches we planted in the city, as well as meet some who became believers at other churches we planted around the country. It was both sobering and exciting to visit and reflect upon the journey of those churches planted so long ago –
What you plant is what you reap! In the early middle 1970s we planted churches – rather than churches that multiply. The result is that most the churches planted then have gotten bigger, but the priority has not been on multiplication!
Plant churches that multiply! If I were to have my time over again – I would cultivate the principles of multiplication into the DNA of every church plant! It is exciting to see the growth – but, it could be even greater!
You can never envisage the impact of a church plant! Thirty years ago it was not possible to envisage the growth of these churches – perhaps representing over 10,000 believers today!
Working with future leaders – had a huge impact! In those years many church plants were focused upon reaching and involving university students and future country leaders – and this has resulted in new churches all over the country.
It is important to be proactive! Those 14 new churches in Port Moresby would not have been planted without the efforts of dedicated teams of members and planted – but there should be hundreds!
Denominations do not plant churches – local churches, members and pastors do! Denominations that do not affirm people, empowering and releasing them, will never reach their potential. Micromanagement and control are not environments of growth, reproduction and multiplication.
Resources, websites & equipping
Resource on Salvation Army Site: Rebecca Walker, a resource writer for The Salvation Army’s Australia Southern Territory (based in Melbourne, Australia), has taken and put some of my materials on church planting into a very succinct form – now available on http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/corpsresources/post.asp?post=80 . There is also a PDF version: http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/corpsresources/uploaded/20091023_ChurchPlanting101.pdf . Thanks Rebecca.
Equipping next generations to plant: The Baptist Union Victoria has posted a brief article on releasing young adults to plant the next generation of churches: http://www.buv.com.au/witnessweb/190-nov-09-equipping-next-generations-to-leave-church
Great stories of church planting in early Methodism – check out http://daves-little-blog.blogspot.com/2009/10/movement-inspired-by-holy-spirit.html
For photos of a baptism at the Revive church plant – see http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/photo.php?pid=2443479&id=704406761&ref=nf
The state of church planting in Australia – check out Steve Addison’s blog: The state of church planting in Australia
Western Australia Church Planting Summit, 2010 – Feb 26- Mar 1 @ Logue Brook Dam: for all interested in how to plant and multiply groups. Each house church plant and current church planting team is to bring a new team of at least four – who will plant the next church!
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS