What is Simple Church?
What is Simple Church?
- Simple Church follows the pattern as we see in the Book of Acts – Acts 2:42 They continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship in the breaking of bread, in prayers.
- It is a simplified version of traditional church: teaching, fellowship, communion, taking care of one another, evangelism
- It is focused on in-depth teaching of the Word of God – Eph. 4:12, 13 …for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…
- Duration is mostly one hour
- There is no formal Sunday School
- Outreaches – we encourage our people to get involved with existing mercy ministries in the city – Gal. 2:10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
- Worship in song – when a psalmist is available
- Giving and sharing – 1 Cor 9:11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
A word from Pastor Johan about Simple Church
I often wonder what made the first church so effective, and how they would handle the challenges we face today. But they lived at another time with their own unique challenges, about which we have no clue today. Despite the hardship, unfair treatment, life-threatening dangers, backstabbing, etc., they had a major impact on this world, and that of future generations — including ours.
The church underwent some major changes since its inception on the Day of Pentecost, resulting in the many different movements with their own doctrines and methods that we have today. It seems that certain traditions have become the very reason for existence for some of them, while the message of salvation and discipleship to spiritual maturity lost their place of importance.
It is not the purpose of this article to criticize the church. I realize that we need a diversity of methods and applications to reach a population so diverse in its appetites, cultural perceptions, sensitivities and challenges as ours. However, our assignment hasn’t changed, and never will.
The first church had a very simple way of taking care of believers while also reaching the lost. They took the gospel to the known world of their day without the help of the modern tools we now have. With lives completely sold out to the Lord, and the simple message of salvation, they took the gospel with them wherever they went. The power of the gospel is in its simplicity!
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added [a]to the church daily those who were being saved.
The apostles’ doctrine played a pivotal role in the first church: the Word of God was taught, and, as Jesus said, the truth set people free from the bondage of slavery to sin and the burden of the law. Sadly, it is no secret that Biblical illiteracy has reached epidemic proportions among Christians today. This may very well be the reason for the many different groups in modern Christianity.
The Ephesian church is interesting to study. Apollos first taught in that region, and although he had to be corrected about his understanding of baptism, a small group of believers existed after he moved on with another mission. At some point Paul visited the area, and found twelve disciples there, men who still held on to the baptism that Apollos taught.
Paul explained the right way to them, (Acts 19:1-7) and continued to teach in the local synagogue for three months, and then daily for three years in the school of Tyrannus. The outcome was simply astounding. It impacted the culture of that bustling city to the point that a riot was instigated against Paul by the craftsmen who made idols of the local goddess. The gospel also spread to the surrounding cities from the church of Ephesus. This is the power of a well-taught church!
Two things stand out as the source of that church’s power: the central role that teaching had, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit — the first thing Paul asked about when he met the first believers there.
Simple churches where disciples gather in small groups do not have praise bands, pews, video projection, or any of the luxuries considered necessities in the West; they worship quietly, teach the Word, enjoy Communion together, and take care of one another.
I have always believed the church will end the way it started — in the homes of disciples. Rising persecution of believers seems to arrange it. The focus of the simple church is on the basic calling of the church only. No energy or resources are invested on programs or activities that don’t produce mature followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its overhead expenses are low, the level of accountability and transparency is high, and the quality of pastoral care and discipleship beyond comparison.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
The Simple Church. Let’s do it…
Statement of Faith
1. The Scriptures. The Bible is the infallible, inspired, authoritative Word of God. (2 Peter 1:20,21) The full counsel of God is found in all of the Scriptures – it is not up to man to decide which parts are valid. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible consists of 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. We believe the Canons of the Old and New Testaments were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and then closed by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and no other books should be added to them. However, we believe other history and prophecy books do exist, and were kept for our learning outside these canons.
2. The Godhead (Trinity). We believe in the Holy Trinity: God is one, yet exists in three persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (See Article) They are co-equal, co-substantial, and co-eternal.
3. Man, his fall and redemption . Man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27). Adam’s disobedience introduced sin into the world, and all born of him fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). But Jesus “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:25). “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
4. Forgiveness. If a believer sins, he has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and all he has to do is confess his sin and he will be forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
5. Divine healing. Jesus took our illnesses upon Himself to make physical healing of the body available to us. (1 Peter 2:24)
6. Salvation. Anyone who looks to Jesus for salvation is born again and becomes a new creation with eternal life. (John 3:3-19, 2 Corinthians 5:17) Salvation is received by faith alone by grace alone, without works of any kind. (Ephesians 2:8)
7. Water baptism. Baptism is administered upon a personal request following faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Baptism happens by immersion in water as an outward expression of the burial of thew life of sin and resurrection into newness of life. (Romans 6:1-11) Water Baptism is NOT salvation, it is a step of obedience AFTER salvation.
8. Baptism in the Holy Spirit . The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a promise of God to all believers. The experience is evidenced by the speaking in tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance. (Acts 2:38)
9. Sanctification . Without holiness no man can see God. Sanctification is a definite, yet progressive work of grace commencing at the time of the new birth, and continuing until the consummation of salvation. (Philippians 1:6)
10. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where He took up His seat at the right hand of the Father, from where He also intercedes for us. (Acts 1:9-11; Hebrews 7:25)
11. The rapture of the church. The Lord will descend from heaven and the church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
12. The return of the Lord. After the Tribulation of seven years the Lord will return to set up His millennial kingdom on earth. (Revelation 20:4-6)
13. Hell and retribution. The one who dies in sin without Christ is hopelessly lost in a literal hell. (Revelation 19:20)
14. Some other rejected teachings.
- We reject the doctrines of Contemplative Prayer, also called Meditation, which teaches the emptying of the mind through mantras as an acceptable form of prayer. We believe this is a sin, and biblically called sorcery. Biblical Meditation is to fill the mind with the word of God.
- Oneness Theology, also known as Jesus Only or Modalism
- Calvinistic Predestination (The false doctrine that teaches some individuals are born predestined for heaven and others for hell, and that mankind has no choice in the matter)
- Mid-tribulation Rapture and Post-tribulation Rapture