As usual, Arthur adds a great deal of wisdom and personal insight to this discussion. I particularly appreciate the way he brings his own journey into the topic. He recognizes that he started his search for understanding “church” by heading in a certain direction. Since then, God has changed his course slightly.
Here is part of what Arthur says:
If I am honest, I need to say that when I first started down this path, I assumed that a “house church” was, if not a silver bullet, at least a step in the right direction. I am not looking for a house church model or organic church model even though I think that comparatively it is far more conducive for an environment of mutual edification. I am also not looking for a “Reformed” church even though I am largely in agreement with the tenets of Reformed theology nor am I looking for an “Anabaptist church” although I see much that I admire in the Anabaptist tradition. I am looking for God’s church, His people living in community with one another. That means that I am looking for community among God’s people where His people are in an environment of mutual edification, loving support, rebuke and discipline where needed and a sharing of lives that goes beyond Sunday meetings whatever the form. It also means that it will look different in different contexts.
Arthur’s statement above – as well as other statements in his post that I did not quote – shows the difficulty of working within church models. Unless the model itself is flexible enough to change itself (which would then lead to a different model?), then it will necessarily hinder the growth and maturity of the church. (Think about how a mold shapes a cookie.)
Jesus shapes his church organization and gathering through his people, not the other way around. When the people are different, then in many ways the church should look and act differently as well. Will there be some similarities? Sure. But even these similarities can look differently from the outside.
Whether you agree with me on this point or not, I have a question: Why do you think “church models” are so attractive to people?