A few years ago I was working with refugee populations as a support person to help them learn the English language, find employment, etc. One of the families I worked and developed a close relationship with was from Uzbekistan, where they had lived under Soviet rule and communism for all of their lives. As Christians, they had encountered persecution and therefore they were granted refugee status to immigrate to the United States. I had been working with them for a few months and our English conversations had advanced to the level where we could begin to discuss their future aspirations and job possibilities. You know the type of conversation because we have it with children all the time.
It goes something like this; "so, what do you want to be when you grow up?" br>
I’ve found that when people hear about a church that gathers without a designated leader to present a prepared sermon or teaching, it is difficult for them to imagine how else the church would gather. The pastor-pew format is so ingrained in today’s church culture, it is hard to picture anything else. But there are, in fact, organic churches that meet with no human person designated as her leader, where all of the saints gather together and share the riches of her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and allow Him to be the head of the church meeting.
Editors Note: We often are asked questions about finances and giving in simple churches. Without question there are different understandings, opinions and applications of truth in this area; so we are not trying to present an article that is the ultimate answer. This article is simply a good one to generate discussion and learning in this area. Read, enjoy, and discuss. Let’s learn from one another.
"Follow the money!" The haunting words from Deep Throat, the unidentified Watergate informant for the Washington Post, proved to be the critical voice that unraveled the corruption in the Nixon White House.
Person of Peace (sometimes called “a person of good will”)…this individual is someone who is receptive, of reputation, and is a person of referral. By being receptive, he/she is eager to have a relationship with you. Regarding reputation, it could be either good or bad, but people know this person. He/she is also a person of referral in the sense that there is an influence over others, either good or bad. Every community will have people of peace. (Lydia - Acts 16:11-15; Philippian Jailer – Acts 16:29-34).
1. Finding a Person of Peace – Luke 10:2-11
A Person of Peace will:
• Welcome You
• Speak Kindly to You
• Be a Person of Hospitality (i.e. invite you into their surroundings/home) br>
• Have a heart of Compassion
• Share a Similar Vision
• Sense the Need for Change
• Note: you will find in this person an instant friend, who will open the door to
others. Make this your base of operation, and your first indigenous leader.
Dave Ferguson shares five ways to bless your neighbors.
He says, “From the very beginning, God’s way of reaching and restoring the world has always been through what I would call a blessing strategy…how do we in a very practical way that’s theologically grounded explain to people how they could bless people in places they are incarnating? We came up with this… br>
B- Begin with prayer. We want you to ask, ‘God how do you want me to bless the people in the places you’ve sent me to?’ L- Listen. Don’t talk, but listen to people, their struggles, their pains, in the places God sent you.
The miracle we need most right now is one that the Lord has freely given us already. It is the power of a changed life. The world is poised and ready to see the relevance and power of our message if only we would let them see it firsthand. br>
There is no power on earth more potent than the gospel in a heart of belief (Romans 1:16). Ed Silvoso puts it like this, in his book That None Should Perish, “The church has been entrusted with something that every politician on earth would give an arm and a leg to have: the power to see hearts changed.” We have been given this power, though we generally leave it unused. Our pews are full of “Christians” whose lives show little difference from those who are in the world. br>
I was recently moved by this quotation by a Brazilian theologian, J.B. Lebanio. Simple reproducing churches…”are not a movement, an association, or a religious congregation… They are not a method (or the only method) of building up the church: They are THE CHURCH itself… They are THE CHURCH committed to the ordinary person, to the poor, to those who suffer injustice.”
Simple reproducing churches (organic churches, home churches) are absolutely theologically necessary. They are the foundational level of the church for the church to be THE CHURCH, the first level at which the church is to exist. The second level is the regular coming together of these basic communities to worship and fellowship together. A third level is the periodic coming together of all congregations to express Christ to the city. Are we focusing on the second level of church meetings while short changing the absolutely necessary foundational level? I think so!
J.D. Payne has done a study of house and simple churches, specifically those that he calls “missional house churches.” Many interesting tidbits are found in this study. For example…
Payne identifies four types of people who are typically involved in house churches. I think looking at these categories of people can be very informative and provoke some excellent conversations about our own simple/house churches.
Jesus said that new wine needs new wineskins (Luke 5:36-40). A new wineskin is only needed if there is new wine. If simple/organic church is like a new wineskin, what is the new wine? Is there something about the life we have together in Christ that needs a new container, that would burst an old wineskin?
This is part of a series on how to start simple/organic/house churches. Changing the structure of church gains nothing unless it is a response to something that Jesus is doing which wouldn't be easy to contain within the old structures. (If you read the story in Luke 5 carefully, it is obvious that Jesus cares about the old structures and the old wine too.) There's no point in doing church as we've always known it within the four walls of our homes rather than in a special building.
Many people take Matthew 18:18-20 as the basic building block of church.
"You want to know what I've learned this weekend?" the man said as he drove me to a Midwest airport early one morning. We'd just spent an incredible weekend together with a house church he'd helped foster and another group of believers who joined us when they heard I was in town. The latter were deeply conflicted about their current involvement with a congregation that sounded abusive. "I've been selling the wrong thing!" he continued.
"What's that?" I asked oblivious to what we were talking about.
"I've been selling house church," he said shaking his head with a sigh, "instead of Jesus." Obviously he wasn't talking about ‘selling' anything, but I love his discovery. Almost everywhere I go people are preoccupied with finding the right way to do church. It seems our hunger for church outstrips our hunger for Jesus.