What I personally like about this compilation is its contrast with many other writings out there which tend to place an emphasis on "what's wrong with today's church." Simple Church: Unity Within Diversity is a positive attempt to share with fellow believers what simple church is all about.
So, what is simple church? A simple question that doesn't have a simple answer--hence the book! Each of the 24 writers shares from his/her perspective a single aspect of what it means to be the church.
For example, in my own assigned Chapter 17, "A Church That Gives Liberally and Generously," I start out by exploring the difference between 'storehouse tithing' and Kingdom giving:
When Malachi 3:10 “storehouse tithing” ceases to be the standard for how much and where we give, many believers are left wondering:
• To whom then should I give?
• How much should I give?
• When is the right time to give?
In New Testament simple churches, giving is based upon Jesus’ teaching on the subject:
Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8).
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke 6:38).What implications do Jesus' words and teaching on this subject have for believers and the church today? How is money to be handled in the church as exemplified in the Gospels and Epistles? My chapter seeks to answer these and similar questions.
While I have been thoroughly blessed by all the contributing writers, some of my favorite chapters in the book are those which explore the following topics:
- A CHURCH THAT ASSEMBLES FOR MUTUAL EDIFICATION by Will Rochow
- A CHURCH THAT KNOWS LEADERS ARE THOSE WHO SERVE OTHERS by A. Knox
- A CHURCH THAT GIVES EVERYTHING AWAY by Keith Giles
- A CHURCH THAT RESTORES DIGNITY WHERE IT’S BEEN LOST by Kathy Escobar
- A CHURCH THAT TAKES THE GOSPEL TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH by Miguel Labrador (a fellow co-laborer in Ecuador)
- A CHURCH THAT RECOGNIZES EQUAL LAITY WITH CHRIST AS THE ONE AND ONLY HEAD by Kathleen Ward
There is so much great material here and to single out a few chapters is only to whet your appetite for some encouraging, but challenging reading.
Far too often discussions about the church descend into arguments about theology, practices, doctrines, traditions, and methods. None of the writers in this book desire to be a part of that kind of dialogue. Rather, each attempts to shed light and provide answers for a growing number of believers who sense that something is missing in the way we 'do church.' Why aren't we experiencing more today what is seen in the Gospels and Book of Acts?
If you would like to know more about simple church and are willing to have your thinking stretched a bit about the church, I hope you will read Simple Church: Unity Within Diversity and let us know what you think about the book in the comments section below.