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Sunday, September 11, 2011

2006--Simson's 15 Theses

Today, I have come to believe that my short term goal is to have 40 of these five minute commentaries.  If you go back through these blogs, I am not close to that, but, for a few, I will totally use a blog of another person who has said what I wished to, and far better than I, sometimes because their experience brings out a point better than I can.  I have a few of these mentioned, but it doesn’t read too well when I have an introduction, a link to another site, and an ending, so I will save the rest for the moment.  Also, even though I believe that such a short thing that is published freely falls within fair use, I won’t get further into that point for now.  I believe I am thinking about that as I ran into a blogger last evening who specifically states that permission is not granted for republishing his writings, which I perceive will be made into a book.  Of sorts, fortunately for me, nothing he wrote quite fits into the train of thought of these series.  I am also attempting to quote a variety of writers on the subject of organic church (unfortunately, there are not that many).  One person’s writing that I have been struggling with is the German writer Wolfgang Simson.  Do I make one, or fifteen, parts based on his Fifteen Theses toward a Re-Incarnation of Church.  For the moment, I have chosen one.

=====================================================================             2006—15 Theses

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Something I have noticed over the years is how professors of biology consistently refer to Darwin’s Origin of Species, but never assign students to read it.  About a decade ago, I had to take a cross country bus trip, so I got it from the library, and it was obvious.  In my opinion, he wasn’t nearly as hard-nosed about the rightness of what he said as many professors are today.  I bring this up in that, within believers in Jesus, we oftentimes refer to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses as a historical watershed document, but it is rarely read, because if you look it up, it reads like a medieval Catholic theological argument, which it was.  Much of its detail is irrelevant to today.

            One person who is very influential in thought about organic church is the German writer Wolfgang Simson (no p in his last name, unlike OJ or Homer). In his book, Houses that Change the World, and on his website, he has posted a much smaller document than Luther’s, but definitely a parody of it, called 15 Theses towards a Re-Incarnation of Church.  Simson has theological training, and as such people, sometimes puts his statements in an intentionally provocative manner.  He isn’t trying to irritate you or I so much as he wishes us to think deeply about what he is saying.  To that effect, here are his 15 Theses, with a slight amount of explanation:

1.               Christianity is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings. 

2.               Time to change to cathegogue system.  He made up a word there, jamming cathedral and synagogue together, that, whether accidental or intentional, we have a series of rituals, disconnected from the real life of the society we are called to be salt and light into.

3.               The third reformation.  From this, he is saying Luther’s was the first, the pietistic renewal of the 1800’s was the second, and it is time for a third, a reformation of structure.

4.               From church houses to house churches.  Buildings are a financial and logistical burden God never directed us to bear.

5.               The church has to become small to grow large.  I know some megachurches use this phrase to stress the importance of cell groups, but Simson means something more radical. 

6.               No church is led by a pastor alone.  Almost all traditional churches I know of that have a pastor do not have anyone with the other four ministries of Ephesians 4, and the other four are the ones seen used in the New Testament, which, interestingly, pastor is not.

7.               The right pieces—fitted together the wrong way. Many of our practices are attached to words found in scripture, but not in the way the early church or the current underground church practices these directives.  

8.               Out of the hands of bureaucratic clergy and on towards the priesthood of all believers. 

9.               Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity.  The Bible shows that the apostle Paul generally went from coming into a city, preaching, seeing some come to faith in Jesus and helping a group of new believers into being church in 3 months, when he went to the next area.

10.            From worshipping our worship to worshipping God.  What’s more important —to be real before God or to have our music or talk look slick before each other?

11.            Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing church to the people.  If Jesus will be there when two or three are gathered, what’s the structures adding, besides weight?

12.            Rediscovering the Lord’s Supper as a real supper with real food.  Have you noticed that 1 Corinthians 11 is in the context of a meal?

13.            From denominations to city-wide celebrations.  See Acts chapter 5.

14.            Developing a persecution-proof spirit.  You can’t have buildings and organizations if the government won’t allow it, but no terrorist can stop the Holy Spirit from going where he wills.

15.            The church comes home.  By this he means that it is easy to live fake in a ceremony, but it is impossible in your family, which makes it the most meaningful.

Simson writes in the introduction that while writing notes for this book, he was in, and had discussions with everyday believers, in Columbia, the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, England, Sudan, Egypt, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea, China, and Mongolia.  You know the variety of cultures that represents—the West and what is and isn’t going on here, lands of overt persecution, and lands of great revival. Obviously, he writes from an extremely internationalist perspective.  Even if you he is dead wrong, or impossibly idealistic, this book is worth reading.  You probably won’t find it on the shelf of a local bookstore (Christian or secular) as it was originally copyrighted in 1998, but some online places will have it.

        You can read a transcript of what I said here at my blog,, in the posting of September 11, 2011.  I will also have a link to his website, which has a long, relatively unusual spelling.  You can contact me at  or 757-xxx-xxxx.  You can find out more about house churches in this area at

Wolfgang Simson’s website is  The book’s full title is Houses That Change the World (Waynesboro, GA: Authentic, 2001).  Most books on house church are not carried by local Christian bookstores or, but so far I have not had any problem finding books from, and, yes, I recognize that comment one can take two very different ways. 


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