A core value of 1God.Community is what theologians call the "priesthood of all believers." Every believer is a minister, and has something to offer throse around them. Christian life isn't a spectator sport in which we observe the "professionals" and cheer them on. Instead, we are on the forefront, deeply involved in ministry to one another and to those outside the gathering.
When we gather, we gather as the priests of God. We come together to encourage one another, minister to one another, and share what God has so freely given to us. The early church modeled the way to gather, EVERYONE CONTRIBUTED! It may have been bringing a song, a word of instruction, prayer, encouragement, sharing spiritual insights, or any number of spiritual gifts. The point is, it was mutual edification.
Leaders naturally emerge from any group of people. However, "leadership" in the simple church is NOT about being in charge as much as it is developing the spiritual maturity and gifts of other believers. The more a leader emerges within the group, the more they encourage others to step forward. The Spirit of God in our midst should be the one in control.
What does this look like in practical terms? Let's look at a few bullet points..
Having everyone read the same portion of Scripture each week helps keep the group focused and together. You may elect to use a simple, reproducible format such as included here and called a Disciples Bible Study, although don’t be rigid with it or over use it. However, it is a good tool to aid others in facilitating groups.
Plan on eating together. This can be a full meal cooked in the host home, or a potluck, or a picnic in the park, or sandwiches and finger foods, or a desert only gathering. Enjoy variety!
Have communion during the meal as it was practiced in the early church.
Everyone should participate most of the time. This means people should usually come prepared to share something spiritually, but also be flexible, should they be prompted to share in a different way than planned. Obviously, this can't be accomplished if the group is too large. Usually 18-20 adults is the maximum. A smaller number may be the maximum due to meeting space limitations.
If someone is "in charge" of the gathering, this responsibility should rotate among multiple people.
The format and attitudes should be conducive to flexibility rather than being rigid about what happens, and when. Given that, it is still helpful to think about what should be the major divisions of time. You can remember these as Reaching IN, Reaching UP, and Reaching OUT.
Reaching IN is sharing life together, what is going on, especially those good and bad things happening in life. This is where we can practice some of the "one another's" of Scripture. This can often be done during the meal.
Reaching UP is where we seek God and praise Him. We search His word, we share how He is speaking to us through it, we pray and sing to Him in worship. For Bible study, you might consider the Disciples Bible Studyformat as a starting point.
Reaching OUT is taking time to consider those we need to pray for outside the simple gathering. What we can do to minister to others and reach out to them with the love of God. Also to continue emphasizing that as we bring new people in, we will seek to multiply a new gathering.
How Reaching IN, UP, and OUT looks each week could be very different. Don't get stuck in a rut!
This is a Simple Gathering. It's family getting together in all their messiness, quirkiness, and love.