Here’s a condensed OVERVIEW of some useful ideas on how to get a simple church growing on a strong foundation:

1. BE PERSUADED that the simple church model is the one you should choose. If all you’re prepared to do is “try it out,” you’ll probably lack the stamina needed to stick with it when “returning to Egypt” starts sounding attractive. Simple church gets pretty sloppy, confusing and frustrating at times.
See the Think Clearly section on this site.
Use the Linkage page to guide you to some other helpful websites.
Re-read the New Testament epistles. They're loaded with descriptions and instructions that highlight God's will for local churches.

2. PRAY FOR CLARITY about who the Lord wants you to gather together. Interaction dynamics and expectations are enormously different depending on the spiritual history and openness of the people in your group. Recognizing the following distinctions can spare you a ton of grief and bolster a new (or potential) church's prospects for long-term success:

• Churched Christians – These folks may have the most difficulty embracing a simple church model because of their pre-hardened opinions about what a “real church” is, what their role in it should be and how their leaders should act. See #4 and #5 on the Pointers page for a pair of tested options to help them with the re-education process.

• The Previously-churched – Many who are now open to explore the Bible attended church as children. They already have some basic beliefs, but they want to re-evaluate and add to them in an unpressured, interactive, non-religious setting where it’s safe to display their ignorance. Mixing-in too many biblically literate believers can actually spoil the pot, because they tend to talk too much and answer questions too glibly. Before you invite them to join, consider insisting that they read Garry Poole's terrific book, Seeker Small Groups. And decide in advance to challenge or redirect them if they become too dominant.

• Responsive Unbelievers – These seem to be the “men (and women) of peace” spoken of by Jesus in Luke 10, to whom he sent his apostles. They often know little or nothing about the Christian faith, but those the Lord is drawing to himself are spiritually hungry (John 6:37, 44; 10:27-29). Though they may have strong opinions, they are respectful of Jesus and open to gracious corrections from scripture. They tend to mix well with people in the "previously-churched" category, though the caution expressed there about established believers also applies here.

3. GATHER SOME PEOPLE and propose what you’d like to do. You don’t immediately have to divulge that you hope to start a new church with them as the core; that might freak some of them out. I’ve invited people to meet with me for all sorts of “smaller” reasons in hopes that God would prosper them into something more substantial. These included open-ended “spiritual discussions” or Q & A’s, considering what the Bible has to say about recovery or doing short-term, interactive studies (like the miracles in John, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, etc.). The key is to get people to focus their attention on Jesus in God’s word, then let him evolve the group into whatever he desires. (P.S. I almost always prepare a few questions for them to answer at the beginning of our first few sessions. Most are very open to telling about their religious/spiritual background. This helps them to open up, identify with each other and start enjoying each other’s company.)

4. START INTRODUCING A FEW OF THE TEN Elements of Extraordinary into your gatherings when the Spirit indicates it’s time. Four with lots of potential to give your group an immediate boost are:
3. Shared Responsibility,
5. Nourishing Bible Study,
6. Thanks-filled Prayer, and
7. Intimate Fellowship.

If you could use some practical teaching ideas to help you graft these elements into the root-system of your group, use the
Contact / Email page to indicate your interest or call Bob Sears at (714) 612-0941.