A few years ago, my family was part of a group of believers who decided to leave one church organization in order to form another church organization. That new church organization became “Messiah Baptist Church.” We were a typical Southern Baptist group, many of us with ties to a local Southern Baptist seminary.
A few things happened in those early days that influenced what happened in the coming years.
First, several of us were interested in ecclesiology (the study of the church). Second, almost all of us held a high view of Scripture and desired to compare everything that we believed and did to Scripture. Third, we did not have a place to meet throughout the week, so we rented a community center on Sunday and met in homes during week for Bible studies. Fourth, we decided to eat together regularly – every week at first, and then at least once per month. Finally, we were a small, poor group so we could not afford to pay someone to be our “pastor” and to preach every week.
Like most new church organization, we began with a set of bylaws, church membership covenant, and a leadership team (since we couldn’t afford to pay one person). We met on Sundays for a “worship service,” complete with a band and a sermon (with different people – primarily one of the chosen leaders – preaching each week). We had several home-based “Bible studies” since we could not do Sunday school in our Sunday meeting location. (By the way, these Bible studies became the medium through which we built very strong relationships with each other.)
As I said, we desired to compare everything that we believe and did according to Scripture, and over the next few years many, many things changed. The primary thing that changed is how we thought of ourselves and our relationships with God and with one another. Gradually, the focus on the organization faded, and relationships became much more important.
Of course, everyone did not appreciate these changes, and preferred “church as we know it” – as it’s been called. Interestingly, several of us remain connected with those who no longer meet with us because of those disagreement about the church… and we continue to serve them whenever we can.
Today, we continue to gather weekly. But, our gathering are much more interactive and teaching is primarily through discussion and dialog. We do not have a band or even a planned set of songs that we sing each week. We sing if someone has a song they would like to sing. We often gather in each other’s homes, at the park, at the beach, anywhere and for almost any reason. We share our lives with one another, and still easily welcome new people we meet.
As people move away from our area, we often find that we’re able to stay in contact with one another because of the relationships that we’ve built. (Of course, this doesn’t happen with everyone who moves away.)
In many ways, we still have aspects of traditional church organization, especially when we gather on Sunday mornings. On the other hand, we also have many aspects of simple/organic churches. (This is why I often say that we’re a “hybrid.”)
In fact, many people who prefer more organized church think that we’re not structured enough. People who prefer more simple/organic type church life often think that we’re too organized. (And, I like it that way… )
We did not set out to start an “organic church” or “simple church.” If you asked many of the people who we gather with regularly, they would probably not even know the phrases “organic church” or “simple church.”
Instead, we are simply a group of followers of Jesus Christ who are at a certain state in our life with God and our lives with one another and continue to seek to help one another group in maturity in Jesus Christ.
I would not recommend that other groups take that same journey that we take or seek to be at the same point we’re currently at. So, what do I recommend? Exactly what I said above: be a group of followers of Jesus Christ who are at a certain state in your life with God and your lives with one another and continue to seek to help one another group in maturity in Jesus Christ.