This week a new friend asked me about how we conduct our churches. Getting asked about our forms of churches is very natural, and it is a wonderful invitation to quickly tell the story of our journey.
Big picture we did not start our simple churches with any specific model or form in mind (though plenty of people had one to offer, and we examined a lot of them). The best advice I got was to begin revisiting how the early church gathered (Robert Bank’s short historical fiction, Going to Church in the First Century, is a great read) and to re-read the New Testament with a simple lens that what was described could inform our practice. Largely our core principles are:
- The Gospel as the basis of fellowship, be patient with the rest of the teachings of Christ
- Discipleship is an apprenticeship of love and collaboration with Jesus
- Church is a family of families
- Mission begins with prayer and hospitality based good works
- Churches are not meant to be alone; they can spread the gospel, sharpen each other biblically, and care for the poor better together
- The Bible is sufficient and authoritative in explaining human experience, shaping our imagination and worldview lens, and guiding us practically in human thriving
This season of formation was significant to us, and so some basic practices for gathering formed:
- We gather around a meal (The Lords Supper), everyone shares an appreciation story, have teaching as a dialogue, and have a songbook for anyone to request a song.
- We promote “nearly daily mutual discipleship” with one or two people during the week
- We practice shared leadership with recognized servants who are spiritual fathers, mothers, and older siblings that function as Gospel Teams.