Mission for the Ruthlessly Simple Church

Do we want to spend all of our time and money paying off a mortgage? This question relates to a lifestyle decision we recently made. One home is in move-in condition. The other home is very nice, but in need of major renovations. The first is $40,000 more than the other.

And that is where we reached our two roads diverged in a wood. We opted for the less expensive home that will need some work. It’s a sacrifice of sorts, we can’t have everything that we want on the home front, but now we are freed up to save a little, travel, and stay in the jobs we enjoy. If our goal is to travel and to enjoy our surrounding area, then choosing an expensive house doesn’t make sense.

Shift with me to the church now, specifically the gatherings of Christians.

We talk a good game: The church is here to bring the Gospel to the world. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and to help Christians grow as they root themselves into the Lord. And to provide teaching. And to provide worship music. And to provide Sunday school. And to provide family-friendly events. And to raise our teenagers into responsible Christian adults. And to provide child care. And to never say no to anybody’s idea lest we hurt their feelings. And to never drag a failing program in the backyard to put a bullet into it lest we rock the boat. And so on.

What should the church do with itself? Our lists are apparently very lengthy. The longer I spend outside of the traditional church, the more I realize that church meetings are really supposed to be very simple times where a group of people meet with God. That is the criteria for success; our traditional church programs, in my opinion, are not always conducive for such success.

Just as we may mock the young couple for buy a home that will tie up all of their resources and time, but then plan on taking expensive vacations every year, the church fills itself with all manner of internal programs that are supposed to deliver intimacy with God and then kids itself into thinking it’s here for mission.

What I’m advocating is a ruthless simplicity for the church. Cut, cut, cut! If we add up all of our “ministry hours” and find that they’re devoted to internal programs, then we must cut back to the essentials: meeting with God together.  Make sure that happens, keep it simple, and don’t overindulge on the home front.

Only when I stepped back from the church and rediscovered it in a simple form have I truly been able to adequately immerse myself in my community. I still meet and pray with Christians. We still connect with God together, but now I am free from many of the programmatic obligations provided by church. With that spare time, I’m freed up to work on God’s mission.

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3 thoughts on “Mission for the Ruthlessly Simple Church

  1. grace

    Great analogy!

    When the church is tapped out on self-sustenance, with all of it’s resources – time, money, people, there is little left over for mission.

  2. David Thew

    Yes, yes! The simplicity of Intimacy & Incarnation. Draw near to God – in solitude and community – and the heart of God overflows in action through us to disciples, predisciples, the helpless and the weak.

    We certainly do not have it all together at Sojourn Church. Regardless, the challenge is to have simple, yet strategic week. We believe that having disciples in our wake (Matthew 28:19-20) will happen if we see a consistent pattern in our calendars of:

    – Weekly gathering for worship and teaching in a larger environment (similar to the “temple courts” environments of the early church in Acts)
    – Weekly gathering for prayer, study, and authentic friendship in a smaller environment (similar to the “house to house” environments of the early church in Acts)
    – Weekly connecting one or more of the following: predisciple/nonChristian, the helpless, the weak/wounded

    If we can keep it simple and relational, our calendars and lives should have more meaning and effect.

    Help us, Lord.

  3. ed Post author

    And even if we kept it as simple as the three things you’ve listed David, that’s still quite a bit to do! We may need to simply things even further in some scenarios. That doesn’t mean we have to drop one of these three items, it just means we redefine commitment.

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