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Guest blogger: When you can’t find a church to belong to…

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in community, fellowship, gathering | 13 comments

Guest blogger: When you can’t find a church to belong to…

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at alan[at]alanknox[dot]net.)

Today’s post was written by Felicity Dale. She publishes the blog “Simply Church.” You can connect with Felicity via Twitter (@FelicityDale) or Facebook.

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When you can’t find a church to belong to…

 

“I live in XXXX. Do you know any good home churches in my area?”

I often get emails like this, and here’s how I often respond:

“There are various tools that might help you discover a simple/organic church in your area, (I usually point them to the “find a church” feature on www.house2house.com) but I’d like you to pray about a different approach. You’ve been a believer for a number of years. Why don’t you start something? Work with those who don’t yet know the Lord or the unchurched—it’s much easier. We’d love to help you.”

Most Christians, especially those from a more traditional form of church background, assume the obvious way to start any kind of church is to invite a few Christians to their home for fellowship. As other believers join them and the group gets large enough, they will multiply out into two churches and so on.

This is not the best way for several reasons:

  1. The Christians will bring all their preconceived ideas about church with them. It will be more of a challenge to think in the fresh, out-of-the-box ways that simple/organic church requires. The temptation will be to do “Honey, I shrunk the
    church!”
     
  2. It is more difficult to be missional. Existing believers tend to focus on the gathering. Many Christians don’t have non-believers within their sphere of influence.
     
  3. You are trying to create community where a natural one doesn’t exist. Yes, there is a “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” with all other believers, but as you add people to a group, it will take time for people to share their everyday lives together
    outside of meetings.
     
  4. Multiplication usually occurs very, very slowly.

It is far easier to make a disciple of someone who doesn’t yet know the Lord. In Luke 10, Jesus told his disciples to pray and look for a person of peace, someone out in the harvest (Luke 10:1-10). You can recognize them because not are they a person of influence (either good or bad), but they will also offer you hospitality. Work within their existing sphere of influence using their home as the base for what goes on. Use a pattern simple enough that within a few weeks they can lead it. As their family and friends find the Lord, multiplying churches is the natural result. Your ongoing job is
to mentor the person of peace.

The advantages:

  1. The problems and issues that come up are those of life, not theology or ecclesiology.
     
  2. Community already exists and their shared lives will continue outside of the meeting context.
     
  3. New disciples have a natural mission field all around them and evangelism follows spontaneously along relational lines.
     
  4. It’s easy to create a vision and expectation of multiplication.

In the book of Acts, there are only two people recorded who became believers as individuals—Paul and the Ethiopian eunuch. The rest all were part of a group—Cornelius and his household, Lydia and her household, the Philippian jailor and his household. Each of these was a person of peace.

Several years ago we started a church in some low income housing projects. God led us to pray for this particular area, and one day, as Tony (my husband) and I were prayer walking there, we were surprised by a heavy storm. Running to take shelter under a balcony we joined two Hispanic ladies sitting in lawn chairs, chatting together.

They asked us what we were doing there, and we told them we were praying for their area. Long story short, one of the ladies, Rosa, invited us into her home to pray for her family. God began answering prayer and soon we asked her if we could share Jesus with her family too.

Would it have been better for us to invite Rosa to the church that met in our home? I don’t think so. We would have extracted her from her environment and her family would probably never have come. But we met in her home, and it wasn’t long before there were 20-30 of us in her tiny apartment, nearly all brand new believers.

It’s time to put our theology into action. What might God do if we let him lead us into the harvest?


13 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-25-2013

    Wonderful! I couldn’t believe the impossible is always possible in the hands of God (Luk 18:27). May the Lord bless your community profusely and keep you all in His grace for the great harvest of life for His Kingdom.

  2. 3-25-2013

    Very good thoughts here. Something we have struggled with is the idea of “starting a church” because while it would be easiest to just start a church and poach existing Christians from other churches, my preference would be the model where we mutliply and build in our community from new disciples.

    I might quibble on the issue of only two individuals saved in Acts, what about Pentecost when 3000 were saved?

  3. 3-25-2013

    I hate to say this, but House2House is a terrible resource. When I consulted it recently, I found most of the churches listed for my large metropolitan area were no longer operating. I would say “all,” but I can’t verify that, since some did not respond to my inquiries. They may be operating, but they did not see fit to respond to my emails, their email information was wrong, or else they’re dead too.

    Five years ago, House2House may have been a good resource, but it is woefully in need of updating with fresher information. In truth, that lack of fresh info is one of the major reasons why some consider the house church movement as elusive (or as mythical) a creature as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

  4. 3-25-2013

    ohhh I love this post & mindset. Haven’t yet seen it put into action or done it ourselves – but YES I believe in it and perhaps that is why so many of us are having problems “finding a Church”. God is desiring us to GO and start planting!

  5. 3-25-2013

    Arthur, one of the things that persuaded us to start a church to begin with was the fact that statistically, (according to Peter Wagner) the best means of evangelism is starting a church.

    As to the 3,000, perhaps I should have said “at one time.” Impossible to know if they were individuals, but I’m guessing at least some of them knew each other because they had no difficulty then meeting house to house.

  6. 3-25-2013

    DLE, I’m sorry you had problems with the House2House website. House churches are incredibly mobile and unless people update their information, House2House has no way of knowing where things are.
    We are working on it, but it’s a huge task.

    I’ll pass on your comment to the relevant people.

  7. 3-25-2013

    Randi, that’s a great idea. And starting a church with not-yet-believers is so much fun. The problems are the problems of life, not of theology. And God loves to work supernaturally in their lives.

  8. 3-25-2013

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. And, thanks for replying, Felicity!

    -Alan

  9. 3-26-2013

    The Organic Church in WA, Australia is a virtual one. It has a website for advertising the books of Frank Viola. I don’t know who was the author of that website. I have sent messages via that website but receive no reply.

    The Organic Church is still too young and almost unknown to the community. It is not well organized and may be has no one to look after the networking of different groups of the movement.

    The general public is still very much attached to the traditional church system, so for planting an Organic Church in Australia will require much patience and God’s grace.

    Having said that, I believe the “Organic Church” must start within oneself in a very natural way and leave the development of the church into Jesus ‘hands. Our Christian faith must take root deeply and strongly in Christ before it can grow into a big tree for the birds of heaven to come and take shelter in it.

    The Church is the business of Christ, so we must not force ourselves to develop the church while we are not ready and the people around us are not ready either.

    The smallest unit of the Organic Church can be our own family for a start. We need to trust in Jesus to add more members whenever He wants and always be ready to welcome the new members when Jesus brings them in.

  10. 3-26-2013

    Duc,

    Thank you for commenting. Are you familiar with Oikos in Australia? We have worked with them in the past. Their website is at http://www.oikos.org.au/ and they befriend and encourage people who are starting organic churches.

    I like your idea that organic church can begin with your own family too.

  11. 3-26-2013

    I too loved that comment, Duc and the truth that your family can be the first experience of Church! God has done that in my life and really given me a vision how our family is our Church first! and we are experiencing Church life together as a family of 5. I pray that God will open our eyes to who He would like to be added into our “church family”! But for now, He has used my children & husband so much to show me how He desires to use relationships to sanctify us and glorify Him!! <3

  12. 3-27-2013

    Blessed be God! Blessed be your “Family Church”, Randi. May you all find the everlasting love of life in your Lord Jesus Christ. I present you the following text on the subject of Love, I hope it will please you.

    Love All

    Love, an easy word to say
    But not many know what it could be or may.
    Love cannot be seen or touched
    But we know it exists when giving each other a hug.
    Love is the aspiration of life in all aspects;
    Love shows its beauty and creativity in all subjects.

    Love was pronounced by our parents before our birth;
    It existed well before man’s birth.
    Love is not a process or feeling,
    It is the spirit that forms and creates all things.
    Love is the Creator of all beings
    Secular or spiritual, seen or unseen.

    Love created man in its image;
    Man is Love’s subject of all ages.
    Man calls Love “God” and worships Him.
    Man relates to God as his Father and venerates Him.
    Love’s Glory is seen through the universe;
    Loving All is our cause and call of living on earth.

    Duc Minh Bui

  13. 3-27-2013

    Thank you Felicity Dale for the link. I’ll check it out later. God bless.