Friday, March 16, 2007

Final Thoughts on Permission Granted

The remainder of the book was written by Gary Goodell and covers ideas about church, gatherings, and community. As I said before, this portion of the book reminded me a lot of the book Exiles.

The first section he wrote about worship was a very different focus than Michael Frost's approach in Exiles. The gist of Michael's message was that while worship is important, that service to others as an expression of our worship is something that we have neglected. Gary's focus on worship is on the importance of having gatherings that are solely devoted to spending intimate, spontaneous, unhurried time in God's presence together. I would just have to say that I agree with both of them.

Gary spends several chapters explaining why gatherings should be more participatory. He argues that the one-hour, sermon-centered meeting does little to equip and disciple others. He suggests moving away from this model of meeting and gives helpful encouragement and ideas for creating more participatory gatherings. This is just a taste of some really important thoughts that he shared about church. I think that his ideas would be especially helpful to an existing church or leader that wants to change their meetings for more active involvement.

Near the end of the book, he mentions an idea that is intriguing to me and that I have not seen discussed elsewhere. He talks about regional meetings. They are larger corporate meetings, perhaps monthly, for the purpose of worship and fellowship.

"These meetings are not about the meetings, but about the bringing together of the wonderful variety of groups and ministries within our region. It is the coming together of these uniquely different expressions of the Body of Christ that make these meetings so different and so exciting."

The meetings would be a wonderful collective experience for simple churches in the area. However, it would be great if other believers in the area were also involved for the purpose of breaking out of our isolated groups and embracing one another as the body of Christ in our area.

There would be nothing to join, but rather believers would be encouraged to participate in their regular church community, whatever model that happened to be. The purpose of the regional meeting would be for hubbing and connecting believers in a particular locality. Ideally, it would not only provide the opportunity for fellowship but also for connecting with others in the pursuit of various missional opportunities.

Doable? I don't know. Intriguing? Definitely.


Alan Knox said...


Very interesting thoughts. It sounds like I would be interested in this part of the book.

I have stopped using the term "worship" for the meeting of the church for a similar reason that you mentioned here. "Worship" is often associated with music or with a specific time and place. The meeting can be worship, but then, so can all parts of a believers life.

About the regional meetings... I think they are "doable"... as long as no one feels they have to control them or exercise authority. "Leaders" sometimes have that problem... as you know.


grace said...

It is likely that while you would find the book encouraging, I don't believe that you would find a lot in there that you haven't already considered. (I'm not much of a book promoter, am I?) He touches on lots of concepts that most people who have been exposed to simple church ideas are already aware of. However, he seems to be speaking more to those leading traditional congregations who want to transition into becoming more missional and participatory.

He also addresses Nee's thoughts about different meetings for different purposes. His thoughts are that small meetings are for the purpose of everyone participating. Medium meetings are for the purpose of corporate worship, which should also be participatory, but may not include contributions from every person every time, but as the spirit leads. Then he describes large meetings as a type of conference meeting for the purpose of teaching and equipping.

Overall, I found the book to be a good compilation of ideas concerning church and leadership, although it wasn't necessarily indepth about those ideas.

daniel reed said...

Hi Grace.

When our simple church/house church thing grew to about 15-20 regular attendees, we started meeting as two separate groups, because we perceived it as a barrier to growth - when everyone showed up, it was just to the point of being uncomfortably crowded.

However, we have implemented just what you're talking about - once a month, both groups meet together. Currently, we do that in one of the houses that is large enough to accommodate everyone - although if we grow any more, we may need to rent a building (gasp!) for our all-church gathering.

It's an idea I nicked from Revelation Church in Chichester, England.

It seems to work really well (so far), but I can imagine extending that even farther to have a large gathering that goes beyond our own "network" to include other simple churches in the area.

We're sort of learning as we go, but I'd be happy to share more if I can be of help (email in profile).

grace said...

Thanks for your comments. I really enjoy hearing and reading about what others are doing. I spent some time at your church site also.

Hopefully, besides learning as we go, we can also learn from one another. Thanks for sharing how you guys are implementing the larger gathering.