Simple Church is a term used to refer to small congregations that primarily meet in homes. These Sabbath home gatherings start with a team of four missionary-minded Adventists (commonly called a CORE4 missionary team) who focus on reaching 87 percent of North America’s population who typically will not walk into a conventional church on a given weekend.
Simple Churches are not small groups because they are not a side-activity of a regular church. They are full churches on par with conventional churches whose congregations own, lease, or rent a building where worship and ministry are conducted. Simple Churches tend to be smaller in attendance, 5-35, and have a simpler worship format and organizational structure. Research by George Barna at www.barna.org reveals nearly six million Americans currently attend a church of this kind.
Simple Church is more effective at reaching some groups than a conventional form of church, especially for the unchurched and younger adults. Since the majority of North American residents are not active in any religious congregation, this is an approach that can be used to successfully achieve the mission of the Adventist Church.
This is not a new form of church. The New Testament clearly reveals that early Christian believers met for worship in homes (Rom. 16:5, I Cor. 16:19, and Col. 4:15). Surprisingly, neither is this a new form of church for Adventists. During the early decades of the movement, most local churches met in homes or rented lodge halls. In fact, this concept lives on in Adventist heritage under the old-fashioned terminology of cottage meetings. Current church attendance statistics indicate it is time to dust off this old concept and reinvent it for the 21st century.
The home church initiative is working, says Florida Conference President Mike Cauley: “Milton Adams has had success with a pilot project.” North American Division leaders endorse the Simple Church model as an outreach option. Overseas church officials also have taken notice, and Adams has been asked to develop a global network of house churches around the world (see www.AdventistMission.org; also www.SimpleChurchAtHome.com). And welcome to the mission field that lives where you live.
Milton Adams is director of Simple Church Global Network.