top of page



Recently, I came across a great book about a network of microchurches and disciple-makers in Tampa, Florida. Brian Sanders, one of the architects of the Tampa Underground movement, makes this observation about his exodus from the traditional church,

In the end, we did not choose to leave behind traditional forms of church simply because we were frustrated (although at times we were). We left because we were alive with the hope of the kingdom of God at work in and through the people of God. We were not seeing this hope in the churches we attended, even though we played by the rules. We were involved in everything they told us to get involved in. We went to the services, attended the classes, even taught the classes and led the services. But in the end, we could not escape the nagging, burning belief that there was more to the church of Jesus Christ than what we were experiencing in our classes and services. We were not trying to be obstinate or petulant. On the contrary, we had a childlike belief that, in spite of all we were seeing, the church could yet be something beautiful and potent. We believed that something greater was possible (Sanders, 2018).

Brian Sanders does a great job articulating the thoughts and feelings of many men and women who love the church but are no longer willing to pursue and participate in a form of church that does not equip, empower, and release the people of God to do the work of God. I agree with Sanders and others that the church can be so much more. I believe that the church should be alive with the hope of Jesus Christ and that hope should spread (with great enthusiasm) to the broken and hurting men, women, and children who encounter the hope-filled church.

Like Sanders, I was fully invested in the prevailing model of church that was built on creating unforgettable events and environments to get as many people as possible to attend weekend services and mid-week programming. I did this believing that success was predicated upon the number of people in the building on Sunday mornings and tithing buckets full of money. I bought into all the church growth hype, and in true American fashion, I believed that bigger is better.

In 2019, something began to stir in me, and I felt a dissatisfaction with the status quo that led me to (re)discover what Jesus desired from me and his church—part of the journey involved asking tough questions about why we do what we do. We began to ask: Are we accomplishing the mission of God? What is church? Are we seeing transformed lives? Are we following a biblical pattern? These questions lead us to make a significant shift in our paradigm. Ultimately, as the Lord led us, we decided to sell our building and pursue a biblical and simple form of church.

Brian Sanders defines the church as a group of people: In consistent, devoted, and surrendered relationship to Jesus Christ, Totally accountable and connected to each other, and Engaged in his mission, making disciples and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God (Sanders 2018).” Notice the simplicity and the power found in this definition.

1. The church should be a group of people that are, first and foremost, devoted to and surrendered to King Jesus.

2. The church should be accountable to one another and connected deeper than once a month. This is a picture of a true biblical community, men and women holding one another to be obedient disciples of Jesus in a community full of love, grace, and truth.

3. The church should actively bring the Kingdom of God (hope in Christ) to the broken and hurting in our communities. The church should share the good news of Jesus, make disciples, and plant microchurches.

Our journey has led us to pursue a simple form of church that embodies the above definition. If this resonates with you, join us as we seek to grow in our obedience to Jesus, our love for one another, and our passion for the mission of God.

Sanders, Brian. Underground Church (Exponential Series) Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

What if I told you that we are institutionalized? Our lives are full of institutions that have conditioned us to believe and behave accordingly. Institutions shape and form societal norms. Schools, government, and church all fall into this category. Institutions play an essential role in our world and, for the most part, begin with good intentions. However, over time, they tend to devolve into tired and mindless actions that do not produce the intended outcome.

Institutional is a bad word and carries a significant number of negative connotations. To be institutionalized is generally associated with the mentally ill, prisons and inmates. The movie The Shawshank Redemption is the story of a banker convicted of a double homicide who maintains his innocence and creates an unlikely bond with fellow convict Ellis “Red” Redding. The movie portrays the challenges of prison life from the late 1940s through the late 1960s. Red, who is serving a life sentence, defines institutionalized, “These walls are funny. First, you hate ’em. Then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.”

I serve as a volunteer chaplain with the Georgia Department of Corrections. I lead a weekly bible study for incarcerated men in two different facilities. These men are locked up for various reasons. Some are serving short sentences, while others are serving long sentences. I recently prayed with one of the men as his release drew near. I was surprised to witness this man’s anxiety and fear as he was about to be released from prison. He feared leaving the security of the walls he had grown dependent upon. Red’s words ring true for this man.

What does this have to do with Jesus and His church? I believe many of us in the church are institutionalized. We have grown to depend on the church walls and fear leaving the confines of the imagined spiritual protection they provide. We have grown dependent on pastors and ministry leaders to tell us what to do and think rather than on the Holy Spirit and the word of God to inform and direct us.

The prevailing church model creates an unhealthy dependency between the body of Christ and those who lead the church. The body has grown dependent on the pastoral staff to provide spiritual programming for men, women, and children. The body is dependent on professional clergy and musicians to create welcoming environments that are attractive and entertaining.

This model has unintentionally created a consumer mentality that does more harm than good.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe pastors and ministry leaders are essential. However, they should be in the business of equipping, empowering, and sending the body to do the work of the ministry rather than disseminating information, managing events, buildings, and programming.

When Jesus showed up in the 1st century, the Pharisees and Sadducees fiercely protected and upheld the institution of Judaism against anyone who threatened the established order. The New Testament records Jesus challenging the institution and redirecting the disciples away from the old wineskins of the Jewish religious leaders towards a new way of thinking, being, and doing.

Jesus is calling all of us to leave the broken, dysfunctional, false comfort of religious institutions and follow the one true king who sets us free from sin and death and sets us on a new path as His ambassadors and ministers of reconciliation (1 Cor. 5:17-21.)

The truth is that the prevailing models and methods employed by many churches and church leaders in America are failing. Church attendance is rapidly declining. Christianity is declining. Pastors are leaving the ministry due to the stress caused by the unrelenting pressure to fill sanctuaries and auditoriums with as many people as possible.

Having run on the hamster wheel of pastoral ministry and church growth principles for 25 years, I determined that we were chasing something that was ineffective and destructive. We were not making disciples. We were not sharing the Gospel. We were not equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. We all had become spiritual babysitters working to appease spiritually immature toddlers who demanded to be entertained, or they would go somewhere else.

After much study, research, and prayer, we made a significant shift in our approach and began pursuing God’s mission and heart. We decided to remove the barriers that hinder sharing the Gospel and making disciples that make disciples (that is another post.)

Jesus, the missionary God, laid down his rights, became a man, and died on the cross for our sins to reconcile us to God. Because of this, Jesus instructs all disciples to go and make disciples, teaching them everything Jesus taught and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:18-20.) We are pursuing the multiplication of disciples and simple churches that will work to saturate our community with the Gospel until there is no place left (Ro. 15:23.)

If this resonates with you, I would love to hear from you and discuss how we can work together to see No Place Left.

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Last Sunday, we launched our first house church with 50 people. It was a powerful day that confirmed that building a Simple Church is healthy and good.

Simple Church, House Church, Micro Church, or whatever you want to call it, is healthy.

Acts 2:37-47 identifies a number of elements modeled, practiced, and passed on by the early church.

Here they are:

  1. Repentance

  2. Baptism

  3. Holy Spirit

  4. Prayer

  5. Worship

  6. Fellowship - sharing, participation, cooperation

  7. Shared Meals (including communion)

  8. Love for one another

  9. Generosity

  10. Meeting regularly (met daily from house to house)

  11. Leadership development

  12. Disciple Making

  13. Reading and Obeying Scripture

We experienced Healthy Church as we gathered in a house with men, women, and children that desire to obey Jesus.

Simple Church removes the unnecessary (dedicated building, professional musicians, professional clergy, and programs) and focuses on growing in our obedience to Jesus, our love for one another, and our passion for God's mission.

We discovered that the presence of God shows up when the people of God gather together, worship, pray, read scripture, and love one another...even in someones house.

If you would like to join us as we seek to multiply disciples and churches, click the button below and we will get you connected.

bottom of page