Is The Church Too Simple?
There is one company on this earth that I follow with almost the same gusto as I follow Jesus (or at least I hope I do). And that's Apple.
In Ken Segall's book Insanely Simple, the overwhelming idea that he tries to paint is a picture of simplicity in Apple's business decisions. Everything, not just their design of products and marketing, but everything that Apple stands for exudes simplicity. Many times in the book Segall makes a point to remind readers that simplicity may seem easy to achieve, but in practice is anything but.
Contrast that with a recent discussion I had with two teens, older teens who were going off to college soon. They called me over after church and one said that he wanted to be baptized. I was, as anyone should be, overjoyed. Without thinking, I suggested that his close friend next to him (who was a Christian) baptize him.
If you could have seen the look of terror, confusion, and bewilderment on his face at that moment you would have been astonished. His eyes got big, he raised his eyebrows and said, "I don't know about that. I don't know what's all involved with that."
This was a kid who had grown up in the church, who had been baptized years before, and didn't understand how simple it was to baptize someone.
Find some water, ask them to confess Jesus as their Savior, and then dunk them! is what I wanted to say to him. It really is that simple.
That got me thinking - is the church really so simple that people can't understand it? Even people in the church?
In his excellent article entitled 10 Things I Love About The Church of Christ, Michael Hanegan states that one of the things he loves about the church is An intrinsic commitment to simplicity of worship. He says that by and large we have chosen to engage in worship instead of a "production." In other words, we've chosen to put the focus on the worship of God rather than our own entertainment.
But think about it. Our worship is incredibly simple. Songs. Prayers. Scripture readings. Sermons. The Lord's Supper.
Baptism, the required means to gain entrance into God's fold (Acts 2.38, Matthew 3.13-17), is also simple. Water. Confession. Immersion.
Is the church too simple? Is there such a thing?
I would say that it is not. Our society has become more complex. Business has become more complex. Technology has become more complex. The church, in my opinion, is largely the same church I read about in the New Testament. It's the same church I've read about in the 1950's. Simple. Effective. Genuine.
I guess the real question is: is our simplicity and adherence to the New Testament tradition turning out to be to our detriment? Are people so bored with the simplicity of the original idea of the church that we're losing ground to other denominations and religions?
I've done no research, and I have no statistics, but I see the church as a healthy organization. We don't see record growth, and maybe we shouldn't. What we do need to do is not be confused and swayed by the complex ways of the world. The New Testament vision for the church is something that very few abide by these days. And I'm proud to say that I belong to a church that has respect for the scriptures to adhere to that vision.