Philip Edwards, “The Churchless Christian” offers 7 Reasons Why We Still Do Simple Church, which includes some good observations which anyone reconsidering the weaknesses of ‘regular’ church should give some thought. Among the list are several tidbits such as:

  • “the larger the church one is committed to, the less community involvement one has.”
  • “Our kids love doing Simple Church and get annoyed when we don’t have it.”
  • “over 80% of all money and time given to normal church is used for buildings and salaries”

These pretty much sum up my own observations as well.

I love the moniker “simple” church. Without delving into all the distinctives of Simple Church as opposed to any other ilk, I have to say I like terms that speak without explanation. For my part, I like simple church because it says nothing about size, location, or structure… just implies that all of those need to remain simple.

I’m thinking back to our recent conversations about missional, getting out of the house, and about church size relative to our maximum channel capacity for relationships. It seems that we could do things so much more simply than the ways we’ve tried so far. It really hits home when you think about giving $100 to a church, only to have $80 of that go to the costs of running the local church, to staffing it and keeping up its programs and properties. To keeping you entertained, fed, and watered. In other words, as Tom Skinner observed, “we tithe to ourselves.”

There needs to be a simpler way, one which sees our time free to give to our family and community rather than to church meetings and programs. One which sees the financial gifts we give go toward the poor or to relief efforts or to someplace other than keeping the building warm and lit waiting for us to show up next Sunday and actually use it.

Maybe I’m overstating it, but I think it abundantly clear that smaller, less complex, less clergy-driven formats for church can release more resources to the direct advance of the Kingdom than can the megachurch model. At first glance this might be counter-intuitive, as it’s often assumed that there’s greater efficiency derived from expansion — but I think the opposite is true. Simple is efficient.

So what say you all? When it comes to the release of resources and the efficient advance of the gospel, in what ways can simple be more (or less) efficient than the attractional institutional model? What in this vein does the institutional model do well that a smaller simple church model can’t compete with?

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