How can simple churches and institutional churches work together?

As I have gathered with other leaders from around metro Denver, a question that has come to us for 2009 is: “How can simple churches and institutional churches work together? (I especially want to hear from YOU the readers of this blog on this question!)

To start the discussion, I asked a few close friends or family who are Pastors in the institutional church. Here is what they had to say:

Cooperation will likely occur in direct proportion to the degree to which we recognize the similarity of our mission and the validity of different strategies and methods for it accomplishment.   The more we focus on what we share in common, which far outweighs in importance what is different about us, the greater the likelihood that we can be mutually strengthened and increasingly effective.

Jack Rants (my Dad!), Pulpit Rock Church

- Although demonstrating our love (orthopraxy) lets the world know we are followers of Jesus, the other wing of the plane is what we believe (orthodoxy). In my opinion you need to keep these extremes balanced.
- At the risk of simplicity the institutional church has been accused of over-emphasizing orthodoxy and the simple church model orthopraxy.
- Find initiatives that blend both. Less is more on orthodoxy. Make it simple. Apostles’ Creed is a good start.

Kary Oberbrunner (Best man from my wedding!), Pastor and Author of The Fine Line

I guess I would lean more in the “mission” direction than I would the “worship.” I think the best place to start is in working together on some very tangible relief projects in the community. Any church that refuses to realize the binding mandate to love our neighbor tangibly is not one I would strain too much to pursue in an effort like this.

A coalition would probably make some churches nervous about “contamination,” but an “operation: denver relief” type thing would be amazing.

Frankly, I could leave philosophical unity if we were united in tangibly reflecting the love of Christ to the needy and marginalized etc.

Kondo Simfukwe (my Brother-in-law), Pastor at Christ’s Covenant Church

Now it’s your turn? What are your thoughts and ideas?


How can simple churches and institutional churches work together? — 3 Comments

  1. We are in a good partnership right now with an institutional church and our simple church, Oasis Community. Just for information, Oasis Community is not what I would call a house church, but the community thinks of itself in much the same way as our past house churches, but with some differences. We are small, but larger than will fit in anyone’s house. We don’t have an office, building, full-time staff, or much in the way of programs. We are highly participatory and flexible in our gatherings and place a high value on genuine community.

    Our current gatherings (Saturday nights) take place in a meeting room provided by a large church. We have a long relationship with this church and they are very generous with us in regards to their facility. We are in the process of helping to build out an unused portion of their building that is next to a coffee house that is owned by the church. We will meet in a community room adjoining the coffee house during business hours. We hope to be a community that is open and available to patrons and neighbors as we gather and also facilitate other activities during the week. We are thinking of ‘seeker small groups’, film nights, music nights, and other community service activities that we find will bless the neighborhood.

    We don’t have a problem with competition with the larger church. In fact, they appreciate the diversity we offer, even to their own regular members, who occasionally take part in our gatherings.

  2. Yeah that is cool… This can be a sensitive topic with a lot of house churches, since many traditional churches feel threatened by house churches, and vice versa. But I believe that God’s ultimate purpose is not just a certain way of gathering in his body, but unity of the church universal. I do believe that if all church groups started hanging together, praying together, supporting one another, etc, then Gods spirit would be poured out as never before!