Take time to read Thom Rainer‘s new book, Simple Church. Read Andy Stanley‘s book, The Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. One thing you will be convinced about is that church efforts to please everyone has made our ministry efforts so complicated that we have become ineffective in doing what God has called us to do.
One of my Gallup StrengthsFinders strengths is Futuristic. No, I can’t tell the future, but I can read the times and people with enough discernment to see possible new ways to meet needs and do ministry. For years, I have been able to see the coming wave of home Bible study groups. I don’t think they will replace Sunday School in places where land and building costs are low and attenders are enough in number to maintain such facilities, but serious stewardship questions are being asked and will be asked in the days ahead.
Already, most new churches are beginning with home groups, and many continue them. Even before Rick Warren‘s book, The Purpose Driven Life, traditional churches all over the country and right here in Kentucky were reponding to the values/benefits that home Bible study groups provide. Since that time, home groups are popping up all over the place. Living Hope in Bowling Green had 30 home groups at last report. Bellevue in Owensboro had several. Even smaller churches have one or more groups.
Here is my insight gathered from many sources over the last year: I can see the small group becoming the future simple church. It’s a natural. In a world and society where fuel costs are increasing, we will want to drive less. In a small group, time can be made for worship. A small group can hold its members accountable to grow as disciples and to send them out into the world to witness and minister. It is already starting to sound like the simple church to me. In fact, it sounds like the New Testament church in Acts 2:41-47.
I know. I know. There are lots of problems in my scenario. There usually are for the simple church. That’s part of what complicates the church’s ministry today. Some believe that bigger and more complicated is better. But what if the church were dispersed even more into communities? What if there were two or ten or twenty or a hundred more “bodies” of Christ than today’s church buildings? What if home Bible study groups were in our future? What should be our revolutionary response? Make disciples. Be revolutionary!