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7 reasons why it is often more effective to start a simple church with not-yet-believers or new disciples

Photo credit: tquiddle (Creative Commons)

In the previous post, I described some of the churches we have started on our journey with simple churches. The majority of them were started with mostly unbelievers. We have also started churches with believers, but it is usually far easier and often more effective to start with not-yet-believers and new disciples. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. New believers have fewer expectations of what church "ought to look like" from their previous experience. They are less likely to revert to "Honey, I shrunk the church!"
  2. Their questions concern lifestyle, not theology. 
  3. They are far more likely to convey their excitement about the changes in their lives to those in their circle of influence.
  4. They have less hang-ups from their previous Christian experience.
  5. Their problems are the problems of life.
  6. If simplicity is modeled well, they easily pray aloud, share from the Scriptures, minister to each other.
  7. They don't have to go through "death valley." (I'll explain that in the next post.)

Obviously believers who have been walking with Jesus for longer enjoy organic church too, but the dynamics are very different. 


10 replies on “7 reasons why it is often more effective to start a simple church with not-yet-believers or new disciples”

My heart is to start things with unbelievers, I love to pioneer! But what do you do in the meantime when your family is needing fellowship and there doesn´t seem to be a lot of spiritual hunger around you? For that reason we are meeting now with a group of believers that we know.

Is your experience of finding non-believers interested in being in a simple church consistent in different countries? My feeling in Australia (at least among the people I know) is that teens may be interested, but beyond that age, unbelievers are not readily interested in explicitly christian activities, at least until some crisis, though they may be quite willing to talk about it down the pub or at the office. i.e. interest but not commitment or action, at least at first.
I’m guessing the US is more ‘christianised’, the third world (e.g. India) more curious about this novel religion, but Australia may be more like western Europe and the UK in this regard.
Any thoughts about that?

This is an interesting post with some interesting comments coming in. @unkleE – we really need to pour out love on people, not try to involve them in Christian activities per se. They will choose those later if they want to. But it’s not religious activities by the body that will draw people in, it’s loving activities by the head expressed through the body that are the key.
If people see the active love of Jesus in you and in me they will respond. People always respond when they are loved. They relax, they become more confident, they are more open and less defensive. People are always drawn into loving community – in fact they have usually been longing for it.
May I recommend Henry Drummond on how to treat people? He’s been overlooked recently, but he understood these things clearly 130 years ago!

Thanks Felicity! That is what we are doing…or trying to do! Sometimes things take time because relationships take time to build guess…but that’s encouraging.

Right on. I had a hard time coming to terms with the reality that those conditioned deeply by the institutional church are the toughest to get through to. I’ve posted before it is the most difficult mission field on earth. It’s like going to your family or closest friends after you converted. They “know” you “too” well, and have a hard time gaining confidence in what you say. I now believe the best way is getting with those who never knew you. They can more easily accept what you say, and many times can actually accept you with more unconditional love than those who have known you your whole life. Looking forward to your next post. Join the REVOLUTION!

Our problem is that we are not great evangelists and in France like the UK people have little sympathy for Chritsians and are deeply suspicious of sects.

UnkleE, our experience has been in the States for the past 24 years. Having said that, Tony saw hundreds of his patients find the Lord when he worked in medicine in the UK, which would be very similar to Australia in its view of Christianity.
I agree with Chris, that whereas when we were young, people believed before they belonged, now they like to belong before they believe. So, for example, we worked with a group of young people who gathered because of their friendship with our daughter, and they formed a cohesive community before any of them became Christians. We just made friends with them, allowed them to overrun our home. Usually the first we knew that they had become believers is that they asked us if they could get baptized.
Steve, I’m not sure we need to be great evangelists–just to love people as they are. If we’re not asking them to “come to our church” but just open up discussions with them, they are more likely to be open.

I found one of the most powerful way that drew people to the Lord was not talking about church, but talking about hearing the voice of God.
The church has lost the ability to truly interact with God. We may teach people how to pray, but when do we teach people how to listen to him answer?
Do we not realise that everyone who comes to God, does so because one way or another he heard or felt the draw of the spirit on their heart. Sadly as soon as they respond to God we start teaching them Tree of Knowledge Christianity! They soon forget the voice that drew them, and gradually become deaf to it.
I have found many outside the church who hear God speak clearly, and some who have given me very accurate words of knowledge, without ever realising the significance of it.

Frank, I agree with you. Where we meet is relatively unimportant. The dynamic that should take place is hearing God’s voice, and I agree that is far more likely to be attractive to unbelievers than “church” which most people already think they understand.

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