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In case you didn't know, I believe Simple Church is healthier and more effective than the church growth and leadership-centric models used by many today. You may disagree with me, but if ministry leaders would honestly evaluate the current state of their ministry, they would conclude that much of what they do isn't working. The church is not accomplishing the goal of making disciples that make disciples.

It is no secret that our culture is quickly moving away from the church as we know it. Church attendance is declining in every state, and the number of folks identifying as Christians is dropping as the number of those identifying as nothing rises. The stress of ministry is causing many pastors and ministry leaders to not only walk away from the church but to turn to drugs, alcohol, sexual infidelity, and in some cases, suicide to deal with the pressures of pastoral ministry.

In our culture, ministry success is measured by the number of people in attendance, the amount of money given weekly, and the size of sanctuaries or the number of campuses. I've never been asked, "How many disciples are making disciples?" or "How many people have responded to the Gospel?" I have been asked about our Sunday morning attendance. Attendance is king in the church world.

Most church folks cannot access all the moving parts of the machine we call church. Behind the scenes, ministry teams are tasked with filling seats, raising money, and keeping the masses happy, so they will continue to come to the building and participate in spiritual events. Every week, a great deal of pressure is placed on the Lead Pastor and the pastoral staff to provide unforgettable experiences for men, women, youth, and kids. This pressure leads to the stress mentioned above. But what if there is a better way to do this thing we call church?

Scripture describes a community of ordinary men, women, and children responding to the Gospel, getting baptized, immediately gathering in homes, sharing meals, sharing their possessions with those in need, praying, discussing the word of God, and fellowshipping with regularity. As a result, the Lord added to their number daily. This sounds much better than the way we do it now.

These early Christians (men, women, and children) actively participate in the day-to-day life of following Jesus. This group of folks was not limited by a specific location, day of the week, or time to worship, fellowship, read scripture, and meet the needs of others. These folks met regularly to eat, pray, read scripture, and grow in their love for Jesus and one another.

There is a disconnect between what we see in the pages of the New Testament and what we see in churches across America. From my experience, no one disagrees with what the book of Acts says about being a disciple and making disciples. When I share how we have decided to abandon the dead paradigm that many churches pursue and obey Jesus by sharing the Gospel, making disciples, and planting churches, there is a resounding "YES! That's what we should be doing!"

The more I read through scripture and hear from missionaries that are working to reach the unreached, there is no doubt that we are on the right path as we work to equip and train believers to share the Gospel, make disciples, engage the lost and broken in our community with the Gospel and prayer, and plant churches in every neighborhood in our county. Jesus did not call us to a sedentary, inactive life among the spiritually apathetic. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, carry our cross, and follow Him (Lk.9:23, Mt. 16:24.)

Expecting professional clergy to provide amazing services, spiritual events, and programs week in and week out is not biblical. Instead of making disciples, we have created a finicky consumer culture that passively attends church once a month, is silent about the Gospel, and avoids community engagement.

We need a paradigm shift. We need to remove everything that has hindered and handicapped the body of Christ and revisit the original design. We must focus our efforts and resources on multiplying disciples and churches and simplifying how we gather.

Simple Church is better, healthier, and more effective.

One of the things I hear about our move to a simple church is, “Oh, y’all are doing Life groups.” This view is a common misunderstanding among church folks. So, what’s the difference between a Life group and a simple church/DMM? Generally speaking, Life groups are more social than spiritual. Life Groups meet less frequently, i.e., once a month. Life groups do not incorporate many of the elements present in a healthy church gathering (see Acts 2:42-47.) This observation isn’t a criticism of Life groups, but there is a vast difference between Life groups and Simple church/DMM.

Here are a few of the similarities and differences:

1. We eat together (fellowship) – This is part of Life groups—food, fun, and fellowship.

2. We worship together (live worship) – Life groups do not generally worship together.

3. We pray with and for one another – Life groups incorporate prayer for one another.

4. We read scripture together and discover Jesus together – although scripture reading is present in Life groups, it is most likely presented from a curriculum or the Pastor’s sermon. We seek to read scripture interactively to discover Jesus as the Holy Spirit leads us. The Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to all believers. We want to be obedient followers of Jesus, not just gatherers of information.

5. We take communion weekly. Life groups may occasionally take communion, but it is not common.

6. We meet the needs presented by the group. We want to be aware of the various needs in our community. We ask folks to share their need and allow our community to meet them if possible. This allows the body of Christ to generously serve one another in a real, meaningful way.

7. We hold one another accountable to the commands of Jesus.

8. Kids are present for fellowship, worship, and prayer and will receive age-appropriate discipleship led by the community. We model what a community of Jesus followers looks like for our kids.

9. A simple church is a church in the biblical sense of the word. Life groups are an extension of the ministry of a local church.

10. A Simple church aims to see disciples and churches multiplied. Many Life groups never grow or reproduce.

We desire to build a culture of ministering to and pouring into other believers as the Holy Spirit leads us. This expression of the church results in a healthier, Spirit-filled life that equips and empowers the body of Christ to makes disciples and advance the Kingdom of God.


A simple and healthy church consists of several elements identified in Acts 2:36-42:

1. As a result of the Gospel preached, people repented of their sins and were baptized in the name of Jesus, and were filled with the Holy Spirit.

2. These new believers devoted themselves to the word of God, prayer, the breaking of bread (sharing their meals, including communion), and fellowship.

3. These believers were unified around Jesus and generously met the needs of those around them.

4. Daily, they met from house to house with sincere, glad, and humble hearts.

5. This results in goodwill among all the people, and the Lord added to the number daily.

6. This Simple Church format was/is the primary vehicle to disciple men, women, and children. The Simple Church format forms Christ in the believers by allowing them to encounter Jesus in a meaningful, interactive setting that empowers them to go and do the ministry’s work.

Simple Church Format:

1. Share a meal, AKA fellowship.

2. Care for one another - pray for one another’s needs. Meet any financial, spiritual, emotional, or relational needs that are presented.

3. Loving Accountability – Hold one another accountable in spiritual growth and community engagement.

4. Worship – Corporate worship.

5. Vision - Pray for those far from God and cast a biblical vision for disciple-making and a simple church.

6. New Lesson/Message from the Bible - Use DBS format. (These lessons can cover several important topics, i.e., 16 Fundamental Truths, Spirit-Filled Life, Christianity 101, etc.)

7. Practice a skill - i.e., 3 Circles, 15 Second Testimony.

8. Pray and Go

If this resonates with you, we would love to hear from you. Join us as we seek to become obedient followers of Jesus, that multiply disciples and churches.

When Jesus calls, “come follow me,” it should be understood to follow Jesus means to submit to His authority, teaching, and Lordship. Scot Mcknight rightly observes that Christianity in America emphasizes salvation in Jesus while minimizing the call to follow and obey Jesus. He goes on to state this emphasis on salvation and making a decision for Christ has created a culture of church membership over making disciples.[1] Brad Young describes the relationship between Jesus and his disciples by identifying six phases of the discipleship process:

1. Jesus calls the disciples (Matt 4:19; 8:22; Mark 1:17; 2:4; Luke 5:27; etc.).

2. Jesus demands that they act accordingly. “Anyone who hears these words of mine and does them is wise.” “Listen to my words and do what I say” (see Matt 7:24; Luke 6:47).

3. The disciples learned by observing Jesus. They followed the example of Jesus and were expected to conduct themselves like their master (Matt 16:24–28; Mark 8:34–9:1; Luke 9:23–27).

4. The disciples not only observed but worked alongside Jesus. They put into practice what they heard from Jesus (see Matt 10:1–4; Mark 3:13–19).

5. The disciples were sent on assignment without Jesus (Matt 10:5–25; Luke 10:1–20).

6. They were accountable to their master’s supervision. Jesus evaluated their work and encouraged them to achieve a more meaningful inner spiritual life by seeking first the kingdom of heaven (Matt 6:33).[2]

Discipleship in America is lacking. Churches and ministries across America record the number of people who decide to follow Jesus but do not record the number of people who complete the discipleship journey. For years, crusades, tent meetings, and revival services have drawn millions of people to the altar to lay down their sin and follow Jesus.

This claim is bolstered by a 2018 Lifeway Research report of the ministry of Billy Graham. Lifeway reports that 2.2 million people gave their lives to Christ over the sixty-five years that Billy Graham preached the Gospel.[3] Additionally, the Assemblies of God records the number of yearly conversions to Christ but has no metric to track disciples that make disciples. In 2019, 8,903 Assembly of God churches recorded 487,322 salvations.[4]

On the surface, these numbers seem encouraging and hopeful for the church. These numbers should reveal a correlation between salvation (decisions) and a greater participation in the local church. However, a recent Gallup Poll indicates that church attendance in America has dropped from 68% in 1998 to 52% in 2018.[5]

This information is important as it reveals that the significance placed on conversions does not result in the end goal of making disciples. Additionally, the conversion count does not differentiate between first-time commitments and those that are rededicating or recommitting their lives to Christ, strengthening the need for a more robust discipleship method.

[1] Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2011), 30–34. [2] Young, Meet the Rabbis, 37. [3] “Billy Graham’s Life & Ministry By the Numbers,” Lifeway Research, February 21, 2018, [4] “Statistics,” accessed February 16, 2021, [5] Gallup Inc, “U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades,”, April 18, 2019,

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