Scripture tells us that on the day of Pentecost three thousand people were added to the church. As they began to learn what it meant to be God’s people, some things about their lives changed, while other things remained the same. They continued to eat normal food; but the context of those meals changed:
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts… (Acts 2:46 )
Every day, or at least regularly, the believers met together in their homes to share their food with other people. Family meals were very normal. The meal itself had not changed. But, the family was now completely different.
Of course, this relationship change had be described earlier by Jesus. His disciples were simply following his lead:
“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.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:13- 15
The One who legitimately could claim all position, title, honor, glory and authority did not do so! He looked into the eyes of men who would soon betray Him and called them His friends. When He did this He absolutely, totally and for all time destroyed all possibility of any hierarchy representing His kingdom. Pyramids are for dead people!
It all began in a boat on a lake with a few fishing poles. It was there, surrounded by the lazy water, my dad and I would have a key conversation that would change the trajectory of my life. My dad was giving me a simple update on his life and shared that his church was hiring a discipleship pastor.
After I pushed past my internal dialog about how hiring a pastor for discipleship betrayed that the church didn’t see everything they did as discipleship, I heard my father say he was excited to learn how to make disciples—finally.
I was thankful for my father’s surge of energy toward Jesus’ commission but also a bit troubled. My dad didn’t seem to realize he raised me in a home where daily life was engaged as intentional ministry. He owned several small businesses and believed his business was meant to be a blessing to people and the city we lived in. As a result, we joined our parents in countless acts of kindness, generosity, and hospitality.
It was not uncommon for one of us four boys to give up our room for a season to make room for a young man getting a fresh start, a broken husband whose marriage was on the rocks, or a runaway teen who needed some stability. My dad would love and mentor these men during the day at one of his businesses while my mom would nurture and care for them like one of her own.
"I have a question I've been wanting to ask you for four years," I said to Charles Brock, author of Practicing Principles of Indigenous Church Planting, when I met in the Philippines a few years ago. "You go into the poor areas of Manila, you plant churches rapidly, they always produce their own leadership, they are never dependent on outside funds and they always reproduce.
2. It is not an issue of numbers, but of obedience - Jesus emphasized over and over again the necessity of obedience as a prerequisite for being one of his disciples...far too much of our time is spent catering to religious folks who are disobedient instead of investing in the non-religious who are desperate and responsive. Jesus loved the multitudes, challenged seekers and followers, but discipled the ones who would obey him.
If we think that a model of church is our solution to reaching the world we are already in a bad place, whether that model is a mega church or a micro church.
There is a vast difference, however, between an attractional posture and an incarnational/missional understanding of church. The difference is not in the organization, but in the release and flow of God's kingdom. The church is not meant to be sedentary but sent-"one holy, apostolic (sent) church."
Today we expect the lost to come to us. In the Bible, God is always the Seeker going after those who are lost. He pursued Adam in a garden and Moses in a desert. He found Jonah at the bottom of the sea and Peter on top. Jesus found Matthew in an office and Paul out on the road.
God became a man and entered the world through a birth canal just like the rest of us. He chose to come to us on our turf, rather then expecting us to rise to His. Jesus preached everywhere that the kingdom of God has come near. He came to seek and to save the lost, and He now invites us to join Him.
It is hard to believe that our website has been in existence for four years. During that time we have posted almost two hundred different articles. More importantly, through the website, we have been able to get to know many of you personally and we have been able to help one another in our walk with God and in the ministry that He has called us to. We are particularly amazed and blessed by the number of people across the Russian-speaking world that have contacted us and let us know that the principles discussed on this website are close to their heart and are a reality in their ministry.
There is no real way to measure the influence and impact of this website, but as we hear stories of changed lives, new disciples, and new churches, we realize that God has had a plan to use this website as at least a small instrument in the building of His kingdom.
Church planting is easy!” we thought. Within a few months of landing in a North African city, we already had a group of men and women meeting in our home. Joining that fellowship were some Muslim-background believers who had previously come to faith in the Lord through the testimony of others. We lined our living room with couches, in the local style, served sweet mint tea, and wore djellabas. We hoped a contextualized fellowship could grow into a solid church.
Tim, a seminary graduate, functioned as the pastor, but rotated leadership. We sang and studied the Bible in English, Arabic, and French. The participants came from Berber, Arab, French, Spanish, Scottish, and American backgrounds. We even collected an offering for the poor. We thought we had planted a truly multi-cultural New Testament house church.
About the Site
All across the world, people are gathering in small groups to serve and worship God, be family, and encourage and affect each others lives. These gatherings are called by many names including simple church, organic church, and house church. Whatever you call it, the people involved value incarnational ministry to the lost, living radically for Jesus and each other, and are willing to get rid of anything that gets in the way of being fully devoted followers of Christ.Detailed...