An examination of Church history reveals the sociological reality that over time groups and organizations of people move from the simple to the complex. What began as something low in structure and organization eventually becomes higher in structure and organization and difficult to reproduce. This tells me that simple is better.
I have come to believe that if it is complicated then it is religion. The Christian faith is “simple.” Profound, deep, powerful but basically simple. Paul, the apostle who wrote a good portion of the New Testament, who was also a theologican and wrote much that gives us a deep understanding of the heart of God – wrote the following:
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received … by which you are being saved… For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriotures, and that he appeared…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5 selected)
Basic and simple. As soon as you add rules, regulations, formatting and organization it always reaches a point where it simply becomes another religion without power and influence. It’s impact is removed, gone forever. German theologian and Church historian Adolph Harnack once wrote of how Christianity spread across the globe so rapidly within a few hundred years. Though he wrote these words over a hundred years ago, they are a challenge to us today.
“This religion was the first to cut the ground from under the feet of all other religions, and by means of her religious philosophy, as a civilizing power, to displace ancient philosophy. But the reasons for the triumph of Christianity is that age are no guarantee for the permanence of that triumph throughout the history of mankind. Such a triumph rather depends upon the simple elements of the religion, on the preaching of the living God as the Father of men, and on the likeness of Jesus Christ. For that very reason it depends also on the capacity of Christianity to strip off once more any collective syncretism and unite itself to fresh coefficients.”
In other words, keep it simple and don’t complicate it. Go back to the basics as found in Scripture – and move away from the themes, trends, bandwagons, traditions, methods, and misinterpretation of the Bible used to suit man’s purposes. Just the basic Gospel of the Kingdom telling the story of Jesus, inviting others to share fellowship with you as you share fellowship with the Father God (1 John 1:1-4). It does not need to become more complicated than that.
This will mean massive change for many churches that have majored on the minors; churches that have interpreted the Scriptures to confirm their experience of God or their lack of experience. It is time to stand up and remove anything and everything that prevents us from doing the one thing Jesus told us, as the Church, to do – “go into all the world and seek and save the lost.” Back to the basics and keep it simple.
Then and only then, I believe, will we see the ‘end time harvest’ that Jesus speaks of because we will have the power to change the world one person at a time. Paul states: “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” The basic gospel of the Kingdom without all the added extras. Just keep it plain and simple; biblical and powerful. You will be amazed at what can be accomplished.