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Réveille… (Part 7)
Why House Church..?
My church-planting starter kit…
I can probably get you set up for under $500.00, including shipping and sales tax… and still have a little left for my retirement fund.
You don’t need a large bank account to be a pioneer.
Home is church, church is home…
As I reflect on the advantages of a house church environment, I feel compelled to change the name of the concept… something more descriptive of the why. The decades of church in our house were never about making a statement or proving a point.
In fact, calling it church in our house sounds suspiciously cold… like we were still running something. I know it doesn’t sound bad on the surface. But what if I say, “I run a family in that house you see down the street…”
I run a family? I run a church? It sounds more like they’d have a CEO, while what they really need is a husband, a father, and a shepherd. Pity the CEO types… because running a family or running a church sounds suspiciously like trying to herd cats.
We didn’t talk about the church meeting in our house… we talked about our church family gathering in our home. We wanted to be family. We wanted to learn how to be better at being family.
So… welcome to family. Let’s see if we can figure out together how to be a church family. We’ll have to learn how to interact with one another… how to survive the glitches and pitfalls of imperfect creatures. Everyone in the house will have to learn how to put up with everyone else in the house.
But that’s not nearly good enough.
What were the dreams and hopes swirling in our heads when we got married or when our children were born? “Learning how to put up with each other” falls pretty far short of what we were thinking. We anticipated immeasurable love and camaraderie, maturing together… growing old together… facing life’s ups and downs together. Home would be a place where glaring shortcomings and unique health challenges would never devalue who we were or how much we were loved. It would be a place where we wouldn’t have to prove ourselves in order to be accepted… because we were born there.
The challenge of being a healthy spiritual family goes even further. It stretches us beyond our natural abilities. We’ll have to learn how to treat each other like God treats each of us.
When I think about how God loves, I have to admit: God loves others at least as much as he loves me. I realize I have a lot of work to do. What will it take for me to love others like God loves them?
Basic principles include sacrificial love, forgiveness, unconditional acceptance, patience, fairness, compassion, consoling, generosity, transparency, and collaboration in Gospel work..
How often should we remind ourselves: A house does not make a home?
How often should we remind ourselves: a church house does not make a church home?
I’m not suggesting anyone is sinning by having church in a building designated for church use. I just think everyone would benefit by learning to be and do church without—and prior to—adding physical facilities for church to the equation.
We’ve fleshed out our lists of how to be faithful servants of God by attributing “serving God” status to acquisition, construction and upkeep of physical structures where our spiritual families gather. We even label the facility itself “church” or “temple”. We pour unspeakable amounts of money into physical spaces while an embarrassingly small percentage of God’s money trickles down to its intended purposes.
Those intended purposes begin with:
Honorable provision for those in ministry. The tithe for the Levites was intended to give them the freedom to serve God and the people. It’s the precedent even the Apostle Paul established in the New Testament to confirm how Gospel kingdom work should continue.
Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:13-14, ESV)
Honorable provision for those in need. Do we have the means to care for our own when necessary? What comes first on our priority list: places to meet or the people that meet? Unexpected tragedy, health crises, unemployment, loss of spouse, parentless children, homelessness or the imminent threat of it… so many are on the edge… so many are one ER visit or one missed paycheck away from disaster. Some are already neck deep in disaster.
Proactive vision for the next generation. Why shouldn’t facilitating education and career preparation be part of a church’s vision—and budget? I hope to elaborate on this in a future post where I include the desires of missionaries for their children.
Calle Alce #40…
…our street address. It’s where Greg, Linda, Jeremy and Rebekah lived.
I’m thinking about the beginnings of one of our churches that stuck and still thrives today. It was the kind of home church we had dreamed and prayed about.
Our beginnings were inauspicious… laughable almost. Our living room was even smaller than the space we had rented on a street corner for our very first church planting effort. We were 5 or 6 adults meeting and praying about the same thing. When we got to 8-10 adults, our living room environment felt intimate. With time, our definition of “intimate” was stretched beyond what we would have thought possible.
Remember how Andrew went and found his brother and took him to meet Jesus? And his brother happened to be Peter? It’s always exciting to see how the most ordinary things look extraordinary later.
A neighbor told a friend about our new effort. The friend showed up one Sunday morning. It was like another firstfruits moment… Things happened around the table at her house. People who would refuse to consider changing religions didn’t mind attending a Bible study in her home. Those Bible studies bore fruit over a period of months and years. They drew people to our church family. She wouldn’t insist anyone come to church with her. She would wait until someone asked, “What do you do on Sunday?” or “Can I go with you on Sunday?”
Once again, I won’t try to whitewash how hard things were sometimes. This was a different group of people… a different mindset. For me, it represented a new challenge… a new learning curve. I made some serious mistakes along the way.
But I’d like to share with you how God blessed us with and through this church family.
Stay tuned for the next 1,000 words…