Simple Church

Simple church...

...brings God glory. Christians living our lives together.

...focuses on using our corporate finances to meet people's needs.

...keeps our gatherings focused on fellowship in Christ.

...makes decisions through consensus.

...makes unity in Christ the purpose and the goal of our actions.

...equips the family of God and provides opportunities for each to use their gifts inside and outside of the gathering of believers.

...evangelizes through our relationships we have in our homes, workplaces, and communities we live in.

...brings God glory


This is a list that I have come up with describing what I think church should be in its core areas. However, I am open to suggestions if you have any.

Watch out for the potholes

What's In A Name? - Hallowed be thy name

What is a name? Why are names important?

A name is a word that carries with it concepts and ideas. These concepts and ideas vary depending upon our own experiences. If I type the name Larry, we will all think of different meanings of the name. We all know different Larrys. The name carries with it different meanings because of the different encounters we have had because we know different Larrys.

Company names are similar. Companies give themselves a name in order to create brand identity. Certain thoughts and ideas are conjured up when we hear company names like Coca-Cola, Disney, Walmart, or Enron. Company names carry with them a meaning that is usually based upon the actions of people who work for that company, our thoughts of experiencing the product, or advertising images the companies want us to have. Companies can change their name and appear like a new company when the image their name brings about has been tarnished. Phillip Morris changed its name to Altria to distance itself from the tobacco scandals. Bell Atlantic changed its name to Verizon. The Washington Bullets changed their team name to the Washington Wizards. AT&T changed their wireless name to Cingular and will be discarding that name in the next year to go back to AT&T wireless. Sprint just recently changed its name to Embarq. The corporate name changing dance will be something we observe our whole lives. When a companies image gets spoiled or out of line with the image they want to convey, they will just change it.

I've been able to go through life being the only Regan that many people know. When people mention "Regan" among people who know me the name carries with it a certain meaning derived from the way I've treated them or stories they have heard about me. The meaning isn't cluttered by other Regans. But even getting their impression of Regan from only one Regan, people have all different sorts of opinions about who Regan is, what he believes, and what he does when they hear that name mentioned. Those opinions are caused by the way I have acted, and I haven't had a consistent life. Some will know the Regan that was around prior to becoming a Christian and that Regan would bring about different thoughts than the current Regan.

In this culture of changing names, people sharing the same names, and the inconsistency of the actions of people with unique names, it becomes difficult to understand that names have any value. Names are disposable in our culture; they really have no meaning. But not so with God.

Jesus began his instruction on how to pray with the following phrase: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."

Daniel prayed out of concern for God's name: "O Lord, hear; O lord forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!"

When God inflicted Egypt with the plagues, he had Moses tell the Pharaoh: "But this is why I have let you live: to show you my power, and to make my name resound through all the earth."

The prophet Joel made a statement that the writers of the New Testament repeated: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

These are just a small sample of the many the biblical passages that deal with the name of God. To God, a name isn't something meaningless. Nor is it that way in other cultures.

There was and is a worldwide belief that the name of an object, man, or higher being is more than a mere label only incidentally associated with the one who bears it. The name is an indispensable part of the personality. One might say that a man is constituted of body, soul and name. Various rites are use to seek, find and give a name to a child. If a man has the name of an ancestor, he represents this ancestor in his social group. When a child receives the name of a deceased person, he fills in his clan the gap caused by death. Often a new name is given in puberty rites, for the man himself is made new by the rites. 'The name is not just a designation but an expressed essentiality.' Experience of power and will is reflected in the name. The name is not abstract; it gives clear form and solid content to the will.

Only when the gods have names do they acquire personality, history and myth. Only when men know the name of a god can they call upon him, or bring him into play by magic. Men can have this magical power over the god only because in the case of the gods, too, the name is essentially linked with the one who bears it. Of both men and gods it is finally true that the name contains mana. When the name is invoked or pronounced, the one invoked appears or works whether desired or not, or the one who invokes affects the one invoked. This explains the reluctance to state or give a name, and the corresponding desire to know a name, which is a desire to enjoy the protection or help of the power linked up with the name. Associated with this, of course, is the exact knowledge of a name, or the knowledge of all names. This is important when gods or demons have secret names. Possession of these ensures their freedom, but when other gods or even men learn them, they come to be fully dependent on them.

The name is thus a power which is very closely associated with the bearer and which discloses his nature. Pronouncement or invocation of the name sets in operation the energy potentially contained in him.

This is the cultural context (as expressed in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) in which the biblical statements on God's name take place. God's name is important to Him, and he wants it to be hallowed.

Hallowed is a state of perfection. One could almost say, "Our Father who is in heaven, perfect be your name." God Himself is perfect, but here on earth his name is not always so. Just like a bad experience with an employee of a company can tarnish a person's name, God's name is tarnished at times by the actions of those who claim to or actually do follow Him. If I didn't all ready know God, it would've been through my recent interactions with the "Christian" telephone company. At other times God's image is tarnished because of our failure to truly see things in the way God wants us to see them. It is to be our prayer that His name becomes perfect as he is perfect.

As is the case with most of the Lord's Prayer, we can have an affect on what we are praying. We are key instruments in making God's name hallowed here on earth. Through living out our lives as loving brothers and sisters in His kingdom, we help to hallow His name. When we bring about His will into our world, we help hallow His name. When we forgive others, we help to hallow His name. When we resist temptation, we help to hallow His name. When we help establish His kingdom in the here and now, His name is hallowed.

God is perfect, but to many his image and the concept of Him is not so. His name is not always in tandem with His own perfection. We have a lot of prayer and work to do in helping His name to be hallowed.

Happy Halloween. I pray it is the evening of God's name being hallowed.

Watch out for the potholes.

My thoughts on moving back to Lansing

Yesterday must've been reply day. That post was up for almost a week without any replies. However, my replies to the replies seem to be lengthy and warrant new posts.

Troy wrote: "What are your thoughts about moving back north? You know there's an established church up there. Don't your family still have a shop up there? Just curious if you've run this through your mind."

I find it interesting that you mention that yesteday because of a conversation that happened in yesterday afternoon. Our friend and manager of the Clem's in Lansing also mentioned the same idea you just mentioned. He is a member of one of the churches that I was involved in and would love to have us come back. He asked me (this is a paraphrase), "If I find another job, would that mean that you would come back here to run the store and come back to our church?" I wonder if all of this movement on this front is a result of people's prayers during the 24/7 prayer down at the church. I know there are people there that have been praying for us.

We originally moved down here because we were expecting twins and desired family help in raising them. In hindsight, I do believe that move was solely initiated by us and not by God.

Around a month, I secretly (just between God and me - although the cat came out of the bag yesterday) started praying that, if it was God's will, our employee in Lansing would find another job and we would have to move back there. However, I do not know if Lindsay likes that cat. Relocating isn't a decision I would make without the consent of Lindsay. Lindsay's current status is "torn". She likes it here and is upset that I started praying wihtout her consent that God would cause circumstances to warrant our moving.

Our store in Lansing couldn't use another full-time employee and it only has one. I wouldn't fire an employee so that I would have a need to go to Lansing.

The other dilemma is that living expenses in Lansing are much greater than living expenses down here. However, if that is what God desires, then he will provide.

There are also business issues that would have to be dealt with in the Ft. Wayne store if I was to leave and move to Lansing. But it is nice to have a father that is in charge of the business that is concerned about our spiritual state also. But I'm sure that they also wouldn't want to have us leave. I think they like being close to their grandchildren.

And the other dilemma would be that the church that was one when we left is now three. We would have to decide which of the three we would want to be part of. That is a blessed dilemma in my mind.

But I pray that in all things God's will would be done. We are fine with remaining down here. We feel this is home. That is something we never felt in Lansing despite the church being what we wanted. I just wish something would happen on the local church side of things down here. Either a peace would come over me about where we are to attend (preferably become a part of) or a new simple church would develop.

I've always operated under the belief that when it comes to God's will we use our logic while constantly being sensitive to His leadings. He leads when what we are to do is not what our logic would naturally tell us to do. He strengthens in all situations. For example, when I was lost my logic told me to depend on myself for all things, so it took God's leading to make me do what was by my own thoughts illogical and begin to depend on Him. My logic tells me to plant a simple church, but things haven't fallen into place. However, I haven't felt any leading away from that logical conclusion. I believe this area is in desperate need for a simple church, so I still believe that is the logical conclusion in this setting. I'm waiting and looking for a sign to steer me away from my logic if that is what God desires.

Watch out for the potholes.

a reply on spiritual depression

My last post received a lengthy reply.

Here is my lengthy reply to the lengthy reply.


I did not specifically mention the church because it isn't a unique problem to your church or any other specific church in the community. The way we do church is an ailment of the majority of churches in America. I am not alone feeling that way. Nor do I believe I am inactive in trying to change it.

We did go to church on Sunday. It just happened to be a different one than yours. If there was a divine appointment with a lost person, I would've still made it unless God sent them to the church I wasn't going to for it. During our hunt we did miss church some, but I would say that we were in church a great portion of the time. My prayer was that a simple church would form as a result of our prayers and conversations with like-minded believers. That didn't happen, but it is still my hope.

Diagnoising me with spiritual depression? Maybe, but I don't think so. I think qualifying my thoughts as depression would just give an easy way to dismiss them.

Also, I don't think what I've done since I've been living in the Antwerp and Hicksville communities would fit with your idea of depression. I'm not going to list a resume of the things I have done of spiritual significance and the impact, hopefully lasting, on those around me, but I do not believe my spiritual life has not been futile. I will concede that my spiritual actions within a local church have been close to such, although there might be some glimmers here and there. My inactiviy in formal Christian community frustrates me because I believe so strongly in the local church and its role in the life of the larger body. However, I do believe we have strived (and successfully achieved) great community with other Christians. The people, including you, that meet in our Friday morning book group would be in that group, but they are only for me as a male. There are others that my wife has. We have many people (some who read this) that we would consider great Christian friends. Our fellowship might not be as regularly as weekly, with some it is, but with others it is less frequent.

I also visited the prayer room you mentioned. I also found it very uplifting, and I pray that all of the prayers will be answered. It was also encouraging to see all of the growth and prayers; however, it didn't scream to me that this is the local church God wants me at. Nor does my logic lead me to such a conclusion. I wish it did.

"God has called You to be Christ to others, not to just tell others how they should be Christ to someone else."

I try to do that in real life. The problem is that the internet is really only a forum of thoughts, so you will only hear my thoughts when you come here. Here my words speak. My actions are silent. Nor will I list my actions as a resume on here or in real life.

Thanks for your thoughts Dan. But as seems to be frequent among us, I will have to disagree. I don't wants my thoughts on ecclesiology to just be discarded because of "spiritual depression". I do have to learn how to better communicate them.

My main problem is choosing how to settle on convictions that I have. Should I or how do I lessen a few convictions in order to be part of a body that doesn't share them? And which convictions are those.

Watch out for the potholes.

Not Ministered At but Ministering Together - My Church Experience

I've been debating on writing what is really on my mind for the last few weeks, but I restrained from doing so. In not writing my thoughts, it seems that nothing else has come to mind. The same thoughts are always there when I think about spirituality and the church. I want to just be positive about my church experience, but I can't. I'm extremely frustrated.

I don't like going to church, at least in the way that church is practiced around here. I look for ways to get out of going. This week we had a good reason with Eli pooping all over the toy room just before we were supposed to leave causing us to have to stay and clean up his poopy mess, but most weeks a reason doesn't manifest itself and I go without really wanting to. (This poopy ordeal was all my fault. I was changing Eli and he said that he needed to go to the bathroom. He sometimes goes on the potty, so I sent him to go in the bathroom since Lindsay was there getting ready. She brought him back to me after he didn't go. I wasn't paying that much attention and he darted to the playroom. While there, he defecated on the floor and made a mess. He came out with poop running down his leg. I knew that there was a mess to be cleaned up.)

People have advised me that I should go to church and not worry about whether I get anything out of it. In concept, I agree. That is what church is all about. So I go and look for ways to minister to others. Opportunities don't pop up. In practice, the church is not designed in a way for people that are attending to be giving to one another. Giving, except financially, doesn't seem possible in today's church environment unless you are in a formal position (worship leader, preacher, etc.). We have designed church to be entertaining and sat through without any social interaction. I can't participate and give to others during the sermon; I am expected to sit there quietly. I can sing songs to God during worship, but I must do that in isolation from those around me. Participation with one another really isn't allowed during "church". Communication with one another is considered rude except before and after the service and that one special greeting time in the middle. Church, as it is commonly experienced, is done in collective isolation.

I also go to a church that doesn't participate in the Lord's Supper every week. That is something I dearly miss, but I don't think going to a church that does a devotion and then the passing of the bread and wine would fill that void. Ever since I experienced the Lord's Supper in the context of a fellowship meal, I don't want to go back to doing it any other way. That was an environment where you could minister to one another. It was an environment of unity and love.

Most church services seem to be designed in such a way that the ministering happens only by the few that have positions in front of the congregation. The rest of the congregation are there to be ministered to. It seems that churches should consciously design what they do together to be an opportunity for the believers to minister to one another rather than to be ministered at by just one. I understand that there would be times in the life of a church when a guest speaker similar to the Apostle Paul would come to town and everyone would listen to him teach using a monologue style similar to preaching. I just have trouble with that being the norm. Maybe it is just my personal tastes.

Besides conceding doctrinal differences to go where I am going (or anywhere else for that matter), I also have to concede ecclesiological (theological doctrine relating to the church) differences. Conceding eccesiology isn't something I am comfortable doing. But maybe I have to get to that point. Please pray for us.

I long for doing church with a small group of people, sharing a dinner, learning together, worshipping together, serving together, and ministering to one another throughout it all. I still wish that would develop down here, but it hasn't.

Watch out for the potholes.