Here at Solid Rock, we have embraced a philosophy of ministry that we refer to as The Simple Church, though we understand that the term “Simple Church” may be defined differently by different people. Whether a simple church is large or small, being uncomplicated is always the goal. The Apostle Paul emphasized simplicity when he wrote to the Corinthians saying:
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV)
The book of Acts also records the simple nature of the early church:
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart (Acts 2:46 NKJV)
Solid Rock Church has never been a mega church and being such is not our goal. Though we want to reach as many people as possible with the gospel of the kingdom of God, and we certainly seek to be more effective in doing so, we do not feel that gathering large numbers of people under one roof is the only way to be effective. For those who can successfully manage all the logistics of a large church and maintain simplicity of heart and a family atmosphere, we salute them. But the mega church model is usually very expensive in terms of time, energy, and financial resources which tends to cause the church to be run more as a business than a family.
Modern churches, even those which are not large enough to be considered a “mega” church, have in many cases become very complicated with multiple ministries, requiring professional administrative staff, elaborate facilities, and a huge budget. Such churches often present a smorgasbord of programs may include a men’s ministry, a women’s ministry, a children’s ministry, a single’s ministry, a marriage ministry, a youth ministry, a college ministry, a small group ministry, ministry to the poor, counseling ministry, evangelism ministry, helps ministry, healing ministry, music ministry, teaching ministry, ministry of education, and a drama team.
None of these things are bad in themselves. And we are not saying that some of these things will never happen here. But if they do, they will likely be birthed and managed from the heart of individuals who carry a specific burden for a specific ministry with a desire to meet that need. They are not likely to be run as ongoing ministry programs managed out of the church office.
Let’s say John is an outdoorsman who enjoys camping, fishing and hunting. So instead of expecting the church staff to get involved and start a recreational ministry with a budget, regular meetings, etc., he simply has an announcement put in the bulletin about his intent to organize a canoe trip and asks who is interested. He and others plan it. If it develops into more outdoor activities, that is up to those who participate. Simple.
Let’s say Sally notices that her friends marriage needs help. Does the church have to start a couple’s ministry with weekly meetings? Probably not. Maybe she should talk to her friend first. Maybe she should make the need known to the pastor or a mature couple who is qualified to help. Maybe Sally could invite a few couples over weekly for a season to watch a DVD series on strengthening marriage. There are many options depending upon the situation, but the point is that it doesn’t have to be an ongoing ministry.
To be an official ongoing ministry of the church, the activity or program must facilitate the mission, must not complicate things, and must not distract from the existing activities that are already facilitating the mission.
What we are describing is a paradigm where ministry happens through people, not through a top-down centralized organization. Ministry happens based on need and resources and does not develop into a routine void of life or an overgrown organization that spends more time “oiling the machinery” than doing ministry.
In their explanation of being simple, one church listed the things they do not do:
• Christian school
• midweek services
• mens and women’s ministries
• children’s Choir
• adult Sunday school
• Easter or Christmas pageants
• recreational ministry
Again, when too many things are centrally managed, many people tend to become spectators instead of participants and things can get complicated, expensive, and inefficient.
If we are not careful, ministry can become busywork, even a distraction that keeps us from our true mission and purpose. Our time can become divided and the main thing ceases to be the main thing. That is why we have fashioned a simple Mission Statement designed to keep us on track.
• Love God
• Build Together
• Reveal Christ to the World
Jesus said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt 22:37-38) First we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Notice that loving God is more than a feeling or an emotion, we are to also love Him with our minds, which includes gaining knowledge through study. We seek to know Him and love Him more. Therefore, we must place a high priority on prayer, worship and the study of the Word.
The apostle Paul gave us a very foundational concept when He said, “… Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.(Ephesians 2:20-22 NKJV)
Peter also call us “living stones” being built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). The early Christians understood this and, not only did they meet in the temple for worship and teaching from the Word of God, they broke bread together from house to house (Acts 2:46). This is how we as living stones are joined together and grow into God’s purpose. Therefore, we encourage home based studies and other small group based ministry.
Reveal Christ to the World
This is where virtually all of us seem to struggle to keep on task. We tend to be comfortable singing during worship services, listening to sermons, reading our Bibles, and attending Bible studies in our friends’ homes. But when it comes to reaching out to the world and those who don’t know Jesus, we can easily get distracted. This is partly due to human nature, and partly because we lack a simple plan. Lacking a plan makes it seem too difficult which can cause us to feel such work is for experts only. Jesus said:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV).
Three key words in this passage are “go,” “teach,” and “disciples.” Revealing Christ to someone is usually more than witnessing or handing them some literature. After the “go” part comes the “teach” part. This is where having a plan in place becomes important. Otherwise we probably won’t stick to it until a person becomes a disciple. Therefore, we encourage consistent outreach designed to introduce people to Jesus Christ and help them find His purpose for their lives.
Even with a simple mission statement, it is possible to add too many “programs” to fulfill it. The plan is what defines, clarifies and puts the mission statement into action. To keep the mission from stalling, it must have four things: Clarity, Alignment, Movement, and Focus.
Clarity: We must clearly understand the Mission
Alignment: One must align or place oneself in agreement with the Mission giving it a high priority.
Movement: The Mission must move people through a process (prevent stalling or stagnation)
Focus: Focus means we must stick to it. Otherwise we lose momentum and the mission fades from our minds and becomes just another sermon we once heard.
The simplest way to understand the plan is a flow chart which will illustrate movement and help bring clarity. Alignment and Focus are choices we make that become easier as we gain clarity. But keep in mind that it is only an illustration and is not meant to be a rigid process. People might jump into this flow and various points and will participate in different parts of the plan simultaneously.
But do not interpret “Attend” to only mean our weekly church service. Attending may apply to a number of things such as a home Bible study, an event like a back yard cookout, etc. Through this, we look for the opportunity to help them understand what our church is. This is Orientation. Orientation is informational and experiential. It is not a membership course or a “decide now” kind of thing. This booklet, or a brief class is informational. Follow up afterward is experiential. It takes both to achieve orientation. Followup is important to provide personalized application of what was covered.
When a person decides to embrace the mission of the church, they become Active. They begin to walkout the practical aspects of Loving God, Building Together, and Revealing Christ to the World. This is a process that moves the individual toward being a mature Christian with a clear vision and purpose — to become a Disciple of Christ.
Though programs and events can serve as outreach tools, outreach is not a program so much as it is a frame of mind that seeks to connect others with the plan of God for their lives. With that as a goal, we invite people to participate in some aspect of the church life and the cycle over again. It is really quite simple.
Thus far, we have described the mission and the plan in fairly abstract terms. To fully grasp the mission and the plan, one must experience the content of the teaching material and put it into practice through the plan. We must be doers of the Word, not hearers only.
More information is available to describe the material, but it can be summed up by emphasizing the importance of foundations. Research has shown that there is a significant gap between how well people think they understand the Christian message and how much they actually do understand. This is because foundational truths have, in many cases, been neglected and have eroded. If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? (Psalms 11:3 NKJV)
Jesus defined foundations as putting His teachings (plans) into action :
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV)
Those who embrace the mission and DO the plan will gain a foundational understanding of the purpose of God and be equipped as an effective witness for Christ. With a solid foundation, what we build on it will not be toppled by the storms of life. Our simple promise is this:
We will not neglect to teach the foundational truths of the Bible.
Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. (Isaiah 58:12 NKJV)
We are a family. We do not compete with other churches, as one business competes with another, attempting to attract customers with the newest, shiniest, coolest, products and programs. We seek to build a family that produces other families. We seek to build foundations in peoples lives, foundations that rest on the solid rock of God’s Word, foundations that will give them strength to stand in the storms of life.
Our identity is based on our vision and upon the collective whole of the people who embrace that vision and become part of the Solid Rock Family. We fully recognize that we are far from perfect, but forgetting what lies behind, we press on to the upward call of God.
Simply put, We are who we are. We do not apologize for it. In fact, we boast in it (in a godly way), and again quote 2 Corinthians 1:12: saying, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God…”