Someone asked me the other day, ‘why simple church?’
It’s a good question. We don’t mean that following in the way of Jesus is easy…or that it requires you to be simple minded. On the contrary, following Jesus is anything but easy. And yet, there is this strong undercurrent in Jesus’ message about abundant life that encourages, actually demands, we live more simply, more humbly, in order to contribute more fully to God’s life-giving work in the world.
Being intentionally simple in your approach to life, to faith, seems increasingly counter cultural these days. There are a lot of demands, some internal and others external, which keep telling us life needs to be more and more complicated in order to be worth living. I talk with parents of preschoolers through high schoolers who lament the fact that, in order to get into the right college, their kids are going to have to be overextended between school, sports, music and all the other extra-curricular activities needed to cultivate a well-rounded, thoughtful and productive human being. I chat with folks who are exhausted by the strains of work, family obligations, charitable commitments, and the latest greatest self-help or holistic health craze. It is as if the world keeps coming up with its list of demands from us or on us that are supposed to enrich our lives, but somehow leave us feeling depleted and exhausted.
So, perhaps, we can be more by doing less, or at least doing things more simply. Perhaps it is possible to have a calm, centered and compassionate life.
As the church, maybe we can open more doors by creating space for people gather around simple life-giving practices like prayer, community and service. Maybe we can enact more change in the world if we intentionally go about our days living three simple rules like doing no harm, doing good, and staying in love with God.
As the community of simple church, we are trying to be true to our name. We are trying to keep it simple in order to be more by doing less. We are striving to cultivate calm, centered and compassionate lives.
Our monthly worship gathering is simple, intimate, quiet, reflective and authentic. The music is mostly old hymns or Taize meditative songs because they are easy for us to sing and encourage everyone’s participation in creating something beautiful together. We spend time in silence because in silence we learn to listen for God amidst the cacophony of distracting voices that are trying to lay their claim on us. And we gather around a simple meal because this is what Jesus gave us, a meal, a relationship, a way to life in love.