25th June 2023

The Simple Pastor offers

Thoughts on wonder,
  faith & words

Hi, my name is Phil Whittall
I'm a leader at Grace Church Stockholm

The Simple Pastor is my personal blog (I've been writing here
since 2006). I chose this name when the convention was to give
blogs names other than their own, and I've become quite fond it.
I also chose the name because I am a pastor without too many
airs and graces and I'm interested in the spiritual discipline of
simplicity and a simpler way of life.

The main aim is to discover more of what it means to follow Jesus
in the 21st Century that doesn't pander to consumerism or confuse
western values with kingdom values.

As a church, we're working on building the church through
missional communities.

They're a bit like small groups, they're a bit like house churches but
aren't really either.
So why have we decided on missional communities?

There are three main reasons that have stuck with me:
community, mission & discipleship.

I believe that the primary image the scriptures give us for the church
is family,
the primary purpose of the church is to make disciples and the
mission of the church is to do that all over the world.

Yet there seems to be a disconnect between people and the church
in Europe - the form of the church no longer seems to fit or to connect,
and people are leaving.

There's a consumerist attitude to church that's destroying it.

I'm a firm believer that everyone is deeply religious.
Some people work on Sundays, but most people are choosing to do
something that they're deeply religious about.

So many Christians have taken up marathons, triathlons and cycling
in the place of church life - that's their new religion.

We are all religious, we're all investing our lives in something.
The only question is, what are we investing our lives in?

So the question I asked myself afresh was, having led a church
for ten years, what is the best vehicle to do all those three things
when starting a new church in a highly secular, highly individualistic
and highly consumeristic culture like Stockholm, Sweden?

It's knowing the context we're in.
What will help us form disciples in the long run, that in many ways
goes against gospel formation in the life of a believer?

Missional communities are part of that response.
Just as with any other form of church, missional communities share
the goal of people glorifying God, enjoying Him forever.
Loving God and loving people.

Practically, in order to embody the church in unique cultures in our city,
and be effectively mobilized for mission to our ENTIRE city, this means
that we must have smaller, nimble communities who are uniquely
expressing the gospel in their neighbourhoods, workplaces,
and networks of people.

The cycle of life of a missional community has identified three distinct
The call to be with Jesus (Mk 3:13-15)
The sending of disciples into the world ((Mk 6:7, 12-13)
The reporting, resting & regathering of the disciples (Mk 6:30-31)

We learn, we do, we rest. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Like the scribe who came to Jesus, ("Of all the commandments, which
is the most important?") I was a confused small-groups expert just a few
years back.

The most important dimension of leading a group is your prayer life -
your connection to God as a leader.

Answers to the following questions yielded the most pivotal results:
● How consistently do you take time for prayer and Bible reading?
● Are you praying daily for your non-Christian friends to come to know Jesus?

Research revealed that the biggest difference a strong prayer life makes,
comes in the evangelistic effectiveness of a small group.

The contrast between leaders with a strong prayer life and a weak prayer
life was startling.
It was shocking how much of a difference it makes.
Leaders with a strong prayer life have groups that, on average,
have more than four times the evangelistic impact as groups led by
leaders with a weak prayer life.

Apparently things depend more on God than on you.
Or, put another way, it's more important to prepare your heart
than it is to prepare your notes

(Leading your Church in Growth 2023
There was a desire to focus more on Prayer, Proclamation and Persuasion,
but mostly prayer.)

The Simple Pastor
Thoughts on wonder, faith & words
I'm a leader at Grace Church Stockholm, a freelance writer & editor,
a runner, reader, a grateful husband to Emma & father to Noah & Anna.