Some words are powerful. I want God to ignite my words with a match made in Heaven so that they burn in the heart of everyone who reads them or hears them and become a furnace that spreads God’s warmth and light around the world.
I am a reader, writer, thinker from Nashville, Tennessee who asks “Why?” and “Why not?” and continually seeks ways to improve my life and to help others improve their lives. I like to look and think outside the box.
I remember sitting and watching “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” with you @ Church in the Valley. How are you Steve? My wife Laurie and I are living temporarily in Plano,Tx where I am working as a Special Procedures Tech, at a local Hospital.
I’m online thinking about christian brothers from my past and the Holy Spirit brought your name to remembrance. The magic of the Google search engine. Your love for the Lord and your sensitivity to others was a valuable grace that I saw in you.
Our son Scott is coming up on 17 yrs of marriage this summer with 3 girls; 15 1/2, 14 & 10. Lindsay 34 has 2 girls and a boy 11,10 & 7.
Our current contemporary influences are R.C. Sproul, Derek Thomas, John Piper and the writings of C.H. Spurgeon and the Puritans who preceded him. Please let me know how you are doing. Would appreciate hearing form you. Brett
Wow! What a great surpise blessing to hear from you Brett, and after so many years. I am in touch with Cameron Y., Paul Rapp, Tom Griner, and Eric Stovesand on facebook. I had a great time my two years in Reno. And Bro. Sun . . . is still my favorite movie of all time. I just watched it again about a month ago. That’s amazing to hear that your kids are grown and you have 6 grandkids. Check out my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/steve.simms2
My wife and I have planted a non-traditional church in Nashville for The Salvation Army. It has been amazing!
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We would love to share with you an article that we just posted on our own blog! “10 Things Ghandi Might Have Tweeted” (http://www.internetprovider.net/blog/2011/10-things-ghandi-might-have-tweeted/) would be an interesting story for your readers to check out and discuss on your blog.
Thanks for sharing some great content through your blog. It has been a sincere pleasure to read.
Thank you, Gordan. Very creative post on Gandhi!
Steve, sir, I wasn’t able to clearly find a place I could let you know concerning a problem I had posting a comment. The text box continually kept bouncing me around leaving me wondering if my comment was correctly accepted. As I thought, no it wasn’t. I posted it on Sept. 24th. It is alright generally but the box didn’t delete a paragraph thereby repeating information and a couple of corrections I made didn’t come through either. Neither are show stoppers but I wanted you to know it was difficult to post. If there is a way to edit my comment I would certainly enjoy making those corrections again. And thanks for the opportunity! Elliott Rudisill
I’ve read with interest some of your website postings. My wife and I were saved over forty years ago and have been involved in a number of institutional churches and house churches during that time. I thought you might also be interested in our website http://www.ChristCrucified.info which I hope encourages and strengthens your faith in Christ.
In Christ’s service,
I’ve followed your blog for a few months now and am intrigued by your posts and the way you approach “church.” I have felt the Lord calling my wife and me to start something more participatory and Spirit led for some time, but am having a hard time knowing where to begin and just what that looks like. I hesitate even saying that, because I have no desire to program it and turn it in to just another church service, like we’re all accustomed to. I also believe that being Spirit led will likely mean that what our time together looks like will be different than yours. I wondered, though, if you could tell me what your typical (if you can even say that) gatherings do look like and how you got started.
We started about 15 years ago with a Sunday night meeting in our home with two other couples. We would open with prayer and then wait on the Spirit. As people felt led, they would share a song, a testimony, a gift of the Spirit, a Scripture, a short teaching, prayer, a need, etc. It lasted a year and was a glorious time of learning to flow in the Spirit.
All these years later, at Berry Street, we still do pretty much the same thing. However, when we first started we did ask a specific person to give a 10:00 minute salvation testimony each week. We had about 70 people share with us how they met Jesus.
Eventually, regular attenders share so much that we didn’t need to ask someone to testify. Two Sundays ago, the meeting lasted 2 hours (and nobody wanted to leave)!
Just step out and God will show up!
THanks Steve! That’s a great encouragement!
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Steve, I love your blog and your thoughts. My wife and I are starting a home church (just the two of us now) based on the principles you espouse. We are connected with LK10. I would appreciate your feedback on my website – criticism welcome. I have your website as one of my links. Hope that is ok? Dennis
Very nice website, Dennis. And I appreciate the link to my blog. Jesus said 2 or 3, so you two can experience His presence in your midst. And that’s what church is about, listening to and obeying the living, resurrected Jesus.
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Steve, your blog is a great encouragement to me. I would like to suggest that you come to Wild Goose Festival 2015 – http://wildgoosefestival.org/category/2015-festival/ – and that you volunteer to be a presenter there. Wild Goose brings together about 2,000 Christians, most of them disaffected from the conventional institutional church and looking for creative alternatives for communities of faith. I think you would both be helpful to others in sharing your ideas and experiences, and learn from others there who are also trying various versions of participatory church.
Thanks, Bill! I appreciate your encouragement. How do you get to be a presenter at Wild Goose? Are you affiliated with it?
You submit a proposal. They haven’t formed their Program Committee yet, so there isn’t anything about that on the site as of yet. They do things much closer to the event than most large gatherings do. They only announced the 2015 dates a few days ago. I did email them a suggestion that they invite you, which they said they will turn over to the Program Committee. Presenters are a mix of people presenting proposals and people with whom they initiate contact. Their policy is that everyone presenting is part of the Festival community not put on a pedestal, which means they don’t give honorariums (they do sometimes give expenses) and they don’t want presenters just coming in for their presentations but to hang around for at least a major part of the Festival and engage with the community.
I think it would be good for you to give a workshop. I would also like to see something at one of the larger venues at the campground where there is a panel of people who have been involved in various efforts at participatory church. That’s something the Program Committee would need to arrange unless you know of other people with whom you could collaborate on a proposal with. That was one of the ideas I emailed to them. I would be willing to be part of such a panel based on several decades within the Society of Friends, which is one form of a participatory church and part of Friends of Jesus which is seeking to do something which is a little broader than the typical Quaker approach.
I have attended the last two years, but am not associated with the organizing of it. And I haven’t attended a lot of the program, because I’ve been there staffing an exhibit (Consistent Life). I did attend a workshop last year given by someone part of a faith community in Seattle which has existed for some time and which is community based rather than leader based. You are doing something that is within the context of a large institution, while a lot of people doing participatory church are doing it outside of a denominational context.
Thanks so much for all the information and for suggesting me to them!
Hi Steve. A friend recommended your blog and I’ve enjoyed reading some of the posts. I’ve also been heartened to find others on a similar journey. I’m part of a small group in the UK that has been working on this for around 5 years. One of the biggest challenges is establishing new patterns of thinking; new expectations and fresh understandings. The old ones have been so firmly embedded that even when you see their limitations I find myself slipping back into the old ways of thinking! It’s given me fresh (and challenging) insight into what is meant by the renewing of our minds.
I’ve just ordered your book and I’m looking forward to finding out more of what you and your friends are doing.
Blessings on you
Thanks so much, Andrew. Ekklesia is a beautiful journey, although it is not easy to go against the tide of tradition. Sometimes it takes us out of our comfort zones. Yet the rewards are many because we get to actually experience the Lord working among us. God bless you and your friends as you walk in the Spirit together.
Yes. For a decade I was part of an “emerging church.” It was started by people with no seminary training, initially in one of their living rooms. Eventually one of the founders became a paid pastor, and over time an infrastructure was built up which looked a lot like the standard Protestant pattern. When it became time for the founding lead pastor to move on, they put out an ad for a replacement which required the person to have the normal credentials and described the duties just like another Protestant church would. Not very “emerging”! But it drew mostly from refugees from conservative evangelical and fundamentalist churches, and the even the small-scale innovations of the church seemed a lot for most of them (in fact, the Church lost a lot of people going back to more standard evangelical churches).
There needs to be a lot of intentionality in being ekklesia and not falling back into the non-ekklesia church type. And it requires understanding that becoming large is not a sensible goal (multiplication is a better alternative), because ekklesia isn’t suited to large numbers (getting into the hundreds I think was a major obstacle to that Church I was a part of remaining in a more creative pattern than the typical Protestant – at its heyday it was about 500).
Bill, thanks for sharing those insightful and wise words. The natural trend in a body of believers is to move away from ekklesia and into human control. As you said, in order to avoid that trap, we must be intentional — intentionally surrendering every meeting to the direct control of the living, resurrected Jesus. This isn’t popular, so it probably won’t make it grow huge. Multiplication is a good option. The larger the group gets, the more we have to modify the ekklesia model.
Thanks Bill and Steve for the encouraging words. It does seem that we have a deeply rooted tendency to want a visible, identifiable hierarchy and source of authority to stand between us and God: like Israel’s desire for a human king. And though we see all around us the results of human control, we keep making or allowing it to happen. Much grace and humility is needed, along with some radical rethinks!
I’m enjoying reading Beyond Church and exploring your website. I’ve been involved in a non-traditional fellowship of home groups for years. Home group meetings usually consist of a teaching and discussion. So I know we are more open than traditional churches, yet I really struggle to find mutual encouragement from many meetings (I struggle to find a way to contribute, others aren’t always edifying, the talkative people take over, seems like a lot of rehashing what we already know, and no chance to share off-topic). I don’t know whether to blame myself or the structure. And as I work through this, I imagine it’s both. And that I can do my best to open myself up to the Spirit’s leading given the constraints. But any insight you have on discussion formats would be appreciated. I can really get down about our meetings when reading books like yours.
Thank you, Sally, for those encouraging words. Perhaps you can humbly approach the leaders of the home group fellowship you attend and ask if they can have what I call in Beyond Church, a Jesus-12. That’s 12 minutes (or more) where Jesus is allowed to be the leader and anyone present is allowed to say and/or do whatever the risen Jesus is prompting them to do. It the group gets used to letting Jesus be in control of the meeting for 12 or so minutes each time you meet, many will want to expand that time and maybe even set the entire meeting up that way.
Oh! I will keep reading! Thanks for that thought and challenge. I will take it as confirmation that discussion groups really do limit the Spirit then. It seems so spiritual because anyone CAN talk. But it would explain why not everyone can find their voice to be used in that way.