As we endeavor to discover Biblical church together, we have found that God is speaking similar things to many of his people across the Body of Christ. The resources listed below are offered in hopes that we can all benefit from the combined wisdom and insight from many followers of Christ who are doing their best to hear from God and shape their lives and churches after his instructions in the New Testament. So then, while we cannot endorse everything said in the resources below, it is our belief that they might be helpful to those who are seeking to do church in a more Biblical way.
Rethinking Church -- A great video by Francis Chan. He talks about doing church differently, in a way that makes the church stronger and empowers people to minister. Rethinking the Institutional Church -- Great comprehensive video! A clear call to search the Scriptures and do church in a more New Testament way. What Is Simple Church -- Excellent video that explains simple church and the importance of relational ministry and making room for every person's gift. Why I Left the Megachurch I Created -- Video by Francis Chan that explains the shortcomings of a large-church approach to doing church. What is Simple Church -- Video by Charles Kridiotis that explains how the Simple Church model empowers people to live out the priesthood of all believers concept and makes missional objectives such as multiplying disciples more obtainable. The growth of the Simple Church movement in Europe is discussed as well. What is Wrong With the American Church -- Video by Francis Chan on the Verge network that calls for us to love one another. Church Government -- Why Elders? A video by Pastor Scott Harrison of Living Hope Community Church that explains Biblical church leadership structure. House Church Part 1-- This video should automatically start at 5:23 where former missionary Bruce Woodford talks about his experience in selecting new church leaders. Rethinking Church Part 1 -- In this video former Pastor Luke Bell speaks from his heart about what church really is and how we must do the “one-anothers” such as praying for one another and confessing our sin to one another. Rethinking Church Part 2-- In this video former Pastor Luke Bell speaks from his heart about true worship and making your whole life an act of worship to the Lord. Why I'm Giving It All Away -- In this video Francis Chan talks about the importance of serving God rather than money or worldly pleasures. Francis Chan -- Supernatural Church-- In this video Francis Chan compares the church of today to a tractor that people have to push along to get the work done. At some point the people of God have to read the owner’s manual and figure out how to run the tractor properly instead of pushing the tractor themselves. The Megachurch Can't Be the Goal of the Future -- Francis Chan calls us to make disciples who win others to Christ and raise up leaders who lead many smaller groups rather than making megachurches full of people who do very little. Why Small Groups Won’t Work -- Video by Todd Engstrom on the importance of believers going out and reaching the lost where they are at in the community rather than staying sheltered in small groups. (The video isn’t against small groups but encourages us to go out in the community to connect with those who don’t know Christ. Small groups and relational ministry obviously play a valuable role in the Body of Christ and the making of disciples.) Don’t Be Deceived, Disciples Make Disciples -- Video by Francis Chan and David Platt The Shocking Truth About the Future of the Church -- Video by Francis Chan that calls us back to making disciples who make disciples rather than disciples who sit and do nothing Sunday after Sunday. The House Church -- Simple Church Gatherings -- Check out this video that explains how simple church gatherings facilitate doing the one-anothers -- caring for one another, praying for one another, bearing one another's burdens, eating together, sharing life together. The House Church Phenomenon -- Many followers of Christ have left larger institutional churches and are instead meeting in smaller groups that meet in homes. Watch this video to find out why. Upside Down Leadership in Simple Church -- Biblical church leadership is clearly spelled out in the New Testament but hard to live out in the top-down leadership model that is found in most institutional churches. House churches, on the other hand, often reject leadership altogether since they are often made up of people who have left an institutional church. Check out this video that calls for Biblical leadership in a simple church setting. Discipleship Process -- Organic and Organizational -- Video by Neil Cole that points to Jesus as the true means of sanctification. To All Those Who Have Left the Church Building -- Check out this couple's testimony of how God led them to a more Biblical understanding of His church.
The God Journey -- Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings talk about following God and enjoying Him in the midst of the issues of the day.
NotAFan.com -- Check out this site for videos of people's testimonies of how their lives were transformed when they became sold-out followers of Christ. SlowChurch.com -- While many people have lamented the industrialization of the food industry and started the "slow food" movement to stand against fast food restaurants and dehumanizing corporate strategies, the "slow church" movement still has a ways to go in terms of popularity and standing against the industrialization of church and Christianity. It definitely has a lot of truth to offer though.
“We live in a day where there exists a ‘primitive church phenomenon.’ Countless Christians around the globe are seeing afresh that the modern practice of “church” is biblically groundless and spiritually ineffective. As a result, many are leaving the institutional church and are seeking to return to simpler forms of church life.” (Frank Viola in Finding Organic Church, p.115)
“Every year, one million adults leave leave the institutional church in the United States. According to missional church expert Reggie McNeal, ‘A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost their faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith.’ We are living in a day of new beginnings. It’s a new season for the restoration of God’s house. God is breaking new ground with respect to the shape, the mission, and the practice of the church.” (Frank Viola inFinding Organic Church, p. 125)
“I have found that so many years of running church shows on Sunday mornings has imprinted on our minds an understanding of church that is not necessarily Biblical. We find it nearly impossible to even think about church without a Sunday morning service event, but that is not the Biblical norm. When we read of church life, we read into the scriptural text this idea. Try reading your New Testament with new lenses. Try to imagine the New Testament church without a once-a-week service. In fact, there is much evidence that believers got together with their church families daily, not once a week -- and the gathering had more to do with a meal together than with sanctimonious liturgy. How did we ever get to the place where church was nothing more than a one-and-a-half-hour service on a single day of the week at a specific location? I assure you, in Jesus’ eyes, the Church is more than that!” (fromOrganic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens by Neil Cole)
“An organic church is simply a church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic churches are characterized by Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership. This is in sharp contrast to a clergy-led, institution-driven church.” (From the Preface of Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna)
“Organic church life is a grassroots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every member functioning, open-participatory meetings, nonhierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional leader and head of the group. Put another way, organic church life is the ‘experience’ of the Body of Christ.” (From Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practicesby Frank Viola and George Barna) “Too often in my preaching I have tried to talk people into following Jesus. I wanted to make following him as appealing, comfortable, and convenient as possible. And I want to say that I am sorry….I hope that you will read this book and discover with me what it really means to follow Jesus." (Kyle Idleman in the prologue to his book Not a Fan -- Becoming A Completely Committed Follower of Jesus)
"Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these eager followers of Jesus in the first century. What if I were the potential disciple being told to drop my nets? What if you were the man whom Jesus told to not even say good-bye to his family? What if we were told to hate our families and give up everything in order to follow Jesus? "This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. "But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what if might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. 'Jesus wouldn’t really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn’t literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was...' "And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus that we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all of our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream. "But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves." (Above taken from Radical, a great book by David Platt that is well worth buying!)
“When we discover the life that we can have in Jesus we are to come after him like this man who pursued this pearl of great price (see Matt. 13:45-46). Fans will be careful not to get carried away. Followers understand that following Jesus is a pursuit that may cost them everything, but it is the best investment they could ever make. Followers will do some crazy things for love, but fans want to play it safe.” (p.133, Not A Fan. Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman)
As we focus on making Jesus the head of the church, we must recognize that mankind has wrestled with letting Jesus be the head of the church for centuries: “Throughout our history we have tried many schemes hoping that our corporate decisions will reflect God’s will. Very early on, local bishops took on nearly autocratic power. Eventually that evolved into a hierarchy of bishops, which claimed apostolic succession dating back to Peter. Not only did this claim have significant gaps, but it also germinated a leadership bureaucracy that is foreign to Scripture. Other denominations have tried the same approach and fared no better. In more recent centuries, many congregations have opted for more local determination to utilize either a council of elders or democratic voting of the membership. Today the single elder/senior pastor model puts authority in the lap of someone supposedly anointed to represent Jesus to the local community. The fact that all of them claim a Scriptural basis might lead us to believe that Scripture doesn’t clearly offer one. Not surprisingly, each of these styles reflect the cultural trends of their day. The hierarchy of bishops is just royalty cloaked in Christian garb. Congregational forms emerged at the same time royalty was being dislodged by democratic movements. The strong-armed senior pastor is a copy of the corporate CEO, who can cast a vision and reward those who follow. All of these forms are grounded in the old creation where power is negotiated to find out who gets to decide what is God’s will for others. Those in power want us to believe that the process itself guarantees that they speak for Jesus and that the faithful must follow. It doesn’t take much discernment to realize that none of these leadership models guarantee that the people holding positions in them are following Jesus.” (Wayne Jacobsen, from his excellent book Finding Church, p.94-95)
Frank Viola describes organic church: “An organic church is simply a church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic churches are characterized by Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership. This is in sharp contrast to a clergy-led, institution-driven church.” (From the Preface of Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna)
“Every day I put love on the line. There is nothing I am less good at than love. I am far better in competition than in love. I am far better at responding to my instincts and ambitions to get ahead and make my mark than I am at figuring out how to love another. I am schooled and trained in acquisitive skills, in getting my own way. And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily – open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride. That last line wrecks me – daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.” (Eugene Peterson in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction)
“In this America, too, the Christian teaching that that every human soul is unique and precious has been stressed, by the prophets of self-fulfillment and gurus of self-love, at the expense of the equally important teaching that every human soul is corrupted by original sin. Absent the latter emphasis, religion becomes a license for egotism and selfishness, easily employed to justify what used to be considered deadly sins. The result is a society where pride becomes “healthy self-esteem,” vanity becomes “self-improvement,” adultery becomes “following your heart,” greed and gluttony become “living the American dream.” From the book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat
Check out this quote from Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison: "Many churches, particularly those driven by church growth models, come dangerously close to reducing Christianity to a commodity that can be packaged, marketed and sold. Instead of cultivating a deep, holistic discipleship that touches every aspect of our lives, we've confined the life of faith to Sunday mornings where it can be safe and predictable, or to a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ," which can be managed from the privacy of our home. Following Jesus has been diminished to a privatized faith rather than a lifelong apprenticeship undertaken in the context of Christian community."
"The idea of church is undergoing a massive makeover in America today. We desperately need a new paradigm for doing ministry so we can create the kind of community and connection that our culture longs for and needs....we may have missed this fundamental and foundational principle that shapes who the church is: the fact that we are the family of God." From Messy Church, a challenging and thought-provoking book by Ross Parsley.
“Baptize quickly and publicly and let the one doing the evangelizing do the baptizing. The Bible doesn’t command us to be baptized, but to be baptizers. It is absolutely foolish the way we hold the Great Commission over our people and then exclude them from obeying it at the same time.” Neil Cole in Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens.