Why Microchurch? Part 3

I’m out of town this week for orientation for my new job, so I thought I’d do some posts ahead of time on why I’m such a big fan (and practitioner) of microchurches.  

I’ve posted about discipleship and stewardship as reasons I’m such a big fan of microchurches.  Today…

Reason #3:  Simplicity
There’s a lot of talk about systems in churches (especially new churches) going on these days.  If your church is traditionally structured (no matter what the vibe is), you must have good systems in place to get people through your church’s process.  Many of you do the Northpoint “Living Room/Kitchen/Foyer” thing (our church had those at one time).  Others of you do it differently.  All I know is this–if you don’t have good systems, your church will struggle.

And yet, the best systems are still complex–even if we continually drill down on them to keep them as simple as possible.  There must be an assimilation system–how to move people from your Sunday crowd into the community of your church (be it small groups, ministry teams, Sunday School, etc.).  You’ve gotta have a small group system for getting people to deeper levels of maturity.  Your Sunday services are the result of a system–there’s some rhyme or reason as to why you do what you do.  The problem is this–are those systems tight, or are they leaking?

In contrast, the systems of microchurches are simple compared to traditionally structured churches (we still, however, must work to keep them that way).  Here is the crux of our system at the church I planted:  love God, love people, serve the world (it’s our DNA… another hot topic in church circles).  In other words, if we’re intentionally living out the gospel all the time, some of the people we’re around everyday will be attracted to Jesus.  If we’re intentional about involving them in the life of our community even before they make it to one of our “services”, they’ll eventually make it there.  It all revolves around relationships.

Here’s an example from our church.  One of our guys started a student church several months ago.  Recently, a guy came to his church who is a devout atheist.  The guy showed up because of his relationship to the church planter and one of his friends who was already a part of the church.  He couldn’t make it to one of the student church gatherings, and the planter asked him to come along to one of my church’s gatherings.  To the planter’s surprise, the guy came… and openly voiced his opinions about God and Christians.  Our folks loved him, encouraged him, and refrained from judging him.  He experienced the love of Jesus… and he came back last week, and plans to continue coming back.  The system is simple–love God… which will lead you to love people and serve the world… and those that are curious, involve them in the life of the community, even before they come to a “service.”  That way, they’re already assimilated.  If we see church as a lifestyle instead of an event, then our systems will be simpler.

So, are the systems in your church simple or complex?  Are they truly tight or do they have leaks?  What has to happen for your church’s structure to be simplified?  If it isn’t simple, it needs to be… and thus the last reason I’ll post about for why I’m a fan of microchurches, which you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see.  In the meantime, leave some feedback about your systems.

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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3 Responses to Why Microchurch? Part 3

  1. Levi says:

    Aaron have you run into this is my small group and I like the people here and if we add anyone else it may mess up our small group mentality? If so how have you overcome that? How well have the groups been growing? What are your checks and balances to make sure people don’t go overboard with ownership and being a exclusive group? Are your people just that great? Love your model and think it does simplify a lot. My final question is what about outsiders how do they feel about coming to a small group in a home/coffee shop/ etc. that the people have been together for years? I see in a larger gathering, ie. Sunday morning worship they can blend a little and not feel under the scope.

    • Aaron says:

      Yo Levi.

      Great questions. Let’s go one at a time…

      First, the “chemistry” question. It was made known from Day One that our churches are to grow and multiply. To not do so defeats the entire purpose–keeping it simple so that it is reproducible. Discovery’s new leadership will spend a lot of time continuing to talk up the DNA (love God, love people, serve the world) and reproduction/multiplication. It’s something we’re intentional about, but we cannot force it… it must be organic. Leaders and church planters emerge as the Holy Spirit molds and shapes them. Mentoring plays a big part in this. The biggest thing–multiplication mustbe communicated early and often. If this is intentionally done, people who want to take “ownership” and keep the group exclusive get pretty uncomfortable and are forced to make a choice. I honestly now think the chemistry thing is a cover-up for consumerism that emphasizes comfort over risk.

      Second, the outsiders question. This is a good question. A prominent church planter asked me the same question–he couldn’t get his mind around the idea of an outsider going to a stranger’s house to do church. Here’s the glitch in that reasoning–it sees church as an event and not a lifestyle. I agree–inviting a friend to come to a stranger’s house for church is weird… because the invite takes place in a vacuum. The outsider has no relationship with the community. The “Sunday service” is the last place an outsider would show up in our model. But when a church does life together outside of the “Sunday service”–hanging out with each other, eating dinner together, going to the movies or bowling together, doing service projects together, serving each other–an outsider can be invited to experience the life of the community (it’s easier to get an outsider to a BBQ than a church service–and the BBQ isn’t a prelude to a Bible study… it’s just the church community hanging out and encouraging each other). It’s in experiencing community life that outsiders form relationships with other people in the community, and eventually come to the “Sunday service” (which isn’t an event… it’s part of the rhythm of the community).

      Here’s an example. One of our church planters started a student church (high school students). Most of these students come from really tough home situations and have already been involved in some insane stuff. The planter knew a student who is an outspoken atheist. They formed a friendship, and one of the students involved in the church was already friends with this atheist. He was invited to come hang out with the church–and that’s all they did. They just hung out. The atheist showed up a time or two, and then couldn’t make it one weekend. The planter asked the atheist if he wanted to come hang out with another church on a Sunday–and the guy accepted the invite. He showed up, told the church about his views… and the church loved him, encouraged him, and accepted him. He’s still coming when he can. He told me, “I may not change my beliefs, but I totally want to hang out with you all as much as I can because I think it’ll change my life.” He experienced the life of the community before “coming to church.” That way, they never feel “under the scope.”

      Looking back on what Discovery used to do (the big Sunday AM service with all the technology), and what many churches are still doing, there’s a lot of effort being put into making things “relevant”… which, to me, is trying to make up for that vacuum for no relationships. A lot of effort is placed on “assimilation”, which has to happen if there are no relationships. I’m not saying these things are bad–if someone chooses to do the prevalent model of church, they’re going to spend a lot of time doing these things. With simple/organic/microchurches, there’s no vacuum–outsiders ideally have already experienced the life of the community before coming to the “Sunday gathering”, which isn’t an event but part of the church’s rhythm… and thus they are naturally assimilated. This isn’t theory for us… we’re beginning to see it happen. It’s slow at first (because we’re still shedding the last layers of the way we used to do church), but we’re starting to see the first fruits.

      Nice questions, dude. If you’ve got more, shoot ’em at me.

  2. Koffijah says:

    Okay, I’m linking your posts on my site. Good stuff!

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