For me, one of the big blessings from leaving the church business model to something more simple is the increased ability to follow the Holy Spirit. You could always go only so far with being true to God’s voice when you also have a business to run – a motive that cannot be forsaken, or the money won’t come in and the church business would no longer be viable.
There’s a lifestyle formed from living the church business way: there’s a high focus on being productive. So much of it is entrepreneurial, and of course, that energy prompts a lot of activity and productivity. And a high percentage of it was about growing the business, not necessarily about being the church that follows Jesus.
In my view, I’m noticing this “activity lifestyle” is carried by many even into the more simple ways of being the church. I catch it in myself often, and I’ve needed the church around me to help me see it. Some people will be better at it than others, but you can begin to smell that flesh energy on yourself or others once your discernment can tell it apart from the flow of the Spirit of God. For example, sometimes I find it’s an undercurrent of anxiousness to “get something going” so that we feel viable as an entity, we’re being meaningful as a church. I see this as still that old flesh energy of needing to make the church business viable, even though we may not be doing the business anymore. Remember how hard it was to have moments of silence in the church business? How awful it was to have a few seconds where no one seemed to know what to do? It’s like “dead air” moments on a radio station – which can mean disaster for keeping your audience. “Oh no! they’ll turn the channel! they won’t come back!” The anxiety was palpable at times. That’s what it’s like when you’re running a business, because you must always keep in mind the need to fill the seats so the money comes in.
But for us, a key part of the journey to simple church is letting all that energy drain out of us – a journey of it’s own that can have many turns – and getting in touch with the natural flows of how the Spirit of God moves. And especially how he works to shepherd a group of people – let’s say several families. The amazing thing about it is, all those desires to truly follow the Spirit of God, no matter what the timing, can finally be explored! You don’t have to stop singing after 3 songs. You don’t have to do any special format at all. You could spend the whole evening talking through something. You could decide to just worship the Lord for 2 hours and then go home. We and the Lord get to figure it out together what he’s doing and follow. And each time we gather, he’s ever alive and doing things in us, and our gatherings are like a living “thing” that won’t look like any other time we’ve gathered. It’s freedom, but with the freedom comes responsibility. Now there’s no one telling you what to do – has it’s up sides and down sides, eh? Of course, the up side far outweighs the down. Now there’s no limit on where he can take us, because he gets to lead instead of “man”, which will always have limits.
There’s a lot of different ways to look at this, and different words to use that can be helpful. I’ve only scratched the surface – so I’m hoping others will chime in with your thoughts on how you’ve come into more of “living by the Spirit” since you’ve been on the simple church journey.