The printer is now printing my new church planting book, and it should be available in one week. I’m excited that Ed Stetzer, author and church planting guru, wrote the foreword. People like Alan Hirsch, Aubrey Malphurs, Larry Kreider, Bob Roberts, and Peter Wagner gave wondeful recommendations. Allow me to share the introductory excerpt from the second chapter (What is Simple Church?):
When Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door, he didnâ€™t plan to break from the Roman Catholic Church. His goal was to correct abuses in the church and make Godâ€™s Word the foundation for faith and practice, not the popeâ€™s authority.
Lutherâ€™s reformation didnâ€™t settle the question of the true nature of the church. Break-away groups, like the Anabaptists, wanted to practice Lutherâ€™s doctrine in a church with like-minded people. They felt the state church was culturally bound and didnâ€™t conform to Scripture. Yet Luther vehemently opposed the radical reformers, and the debate about the nature of the church continued unabated.
Similar debates continue to this day.
Some denominations, for example, donâ€™t believe a church exists until an ordained pastor is in charge. Others wonâ€™t officially recognize a church until there are enough charter members; still others believe a church must first launch a public gathering, say on Sunday morning, before the real church is present. Some go farther, demanding robes and rituals. Wolfgang Simson sums up this view: â€œThe image of much contemporary Christianity could be summarized as holy people coming regularly to a holy place on a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual by a holy man dressed in holy clothes for a holy fee.â€
I am convinced that many of our church definitions are far too complicated.
What is the church?
I then go on to explain what I believe Scripture teaches about the simple nature of the New Testament Church. What do you think? Have we over-complicated the simple nature of Christ’s church?