A lot has been happening within my church body. There have been huge moves of the Spirit and God displaying His power and providence in unexpected ways. (To catch a glimpse of what’s been going on, read this).
So much has been happening that I have had little time to share, simply because there hasn’t been time to keep up. Excitement and hope is springing up within me and all I want is to share it with all of you.
Then, the other day I read a post from Frank Viola, where he asked his readers to share stories–scratch that—testimonies of God’s power and faithfulness.
So, today I am totally, completely, %100 stealing that idea from Viola and asking you to do the same. I can’t share everything with all of you right now, but I can certainly be encouraged and lifted up by you sharing about God’s power in your own life. More than that, we can be edified by one another.
The Questions: What has God done in your own life, or those you know, that was a clear answer to prayer and His power displayed? Has He healed someone? Resurrected a marriage? Brought a clear answer to a seemingly hopeless situation?
When has God performed a miracle? Made the impossible possible? What is the story of God’s faithfulness that you stand upon? When He showed up for you in a big way….
May our testimonies be a witness to those yet to know the Lord and may our own faith be bolstered in reading one another’s answers.
So much has happened this week, I almost feel overwhelmed. Except that much of what has happened has been the moving of the Spirit and God doing big things (more to come on all of that).
Not to mention, there was so much awesome stuff in the ol’ blogoshpere this week–stuff I couldn’t wait to share with all of you.
So let’s get to it:
Will There Be Gays in Heaven? Craig Gross of XXX Church is the real deal. He seems to me to be one of the few really well-known, highly respected Christian figures who just gets it. What is “it?” Jesus. The article he wrote for CNN is a perfect example. Truth and grace, all over the place.
Little Girls and Hotties. Do you have daughters? If so, then you need to read this post from Karen Yates about modesty and our little girls. She asks us what the boundaries of modesty should be for our daughters and gives tons of practical examples. Good stuff.
Stop Trying to Imitate Christ. I introduced Jamal Jivanjee to you a while back. He has quickly become a powerful and edifying resource for me. This post from him is a prime example, filled with the richness and truth of Jesus and His Word. If you’ve ever struggled with trying to “act like Jesus” and failed, please read this.
The Circle Unbroken. Cathleen Falsani is one of my favorite Christian bloggers, although it’s rather unfair to call her a “blogger” because she is much much more. She is an author and writer first and foremost and this post from her tells you why. It is all of the beauty, simplicity, and loveliness of Jesus’ church and how it can look so different and yet still reflect Him.
The True Gospel. Not a single post this week got me as pumped and excited as this one. A taste: “Religious jargon will become fossils and equally nutritious. A new sweeping movement of the gospel couched in the terms of our culture and swept through communities by the Holy Spirit is coming.” Um, yes and yes!
An Inside Peek into my Church. If you desire to see and read what my church life is like, my friend Donald, has posted a letter essentially chronicling our church activity over the last month or so. Healing? Check. The Holy Spirit in abundance? Check. Prophesy? Check. God’s people being ignited? Check. Go on, I know you’re curious. (While you’re there, check out the rest of Donald’s blog. He speaks truth like no one I know and I love it!)
So there you have it. It’s quite a list this week, don’t you think. I have so much to chew on and pray through from these writings alone.
Now, it’s your turn. What events, experiences, or words encouraged you, challenged you, or edified you this week? Or what angered you, convicted you, or compelled you to seek God?
P.S. Did you see the Modern Reject giveaway for the chance to win a Bible study series from the teaching power-house Kasey Van Norman? Don’t forget to enter to win and get the hook-up!
So, lately my church family has been talking a lot about our “wish-dreams.” Our what-the-whats, you may be asking.
What’s a wish-dream? I know, it sounds like some sort of hippy-dippy, new-age malarkey, but it is so not. The term “wish-dream” was coined by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and has proven to be one of the most challenging ideas to my faith in a very long time.
A few weeks back, the consistently awesome Frank Viola, posted an excerpt of Bonhoeffer’s explanation of a wish-dream (if you have time, I encourage you to read the full excerpt. It is just too good not to). Many of those in my church family read it and we began sharing with one another our own wish-dreams.
I read this quote the other day, and I have to say, I completely disagree with it:
A good church is a Bible-centered church. Nothing is as important as this–not a large congregation, a witty pastor, or tangible experiences of the Holy Spirit.”― Alistair Begg
I mean, on the surface, I think it sounds right. We know that as believers, the Bible is our bread. It is God’s very Word to us, able to divide joints and marrow (spiritually speaking). But is a Bible-centered church really the most important thing in creating a “good church” (whatever that means)?
Consider the Acts church, which grew rapidly and spread the Gospel like wild fire. Do you think the thing they focused on most, was the Bible? Was it within the Bible, and from the Bible, that they found their strength and power?
I doubt it. I think the Acts church focused most of their energy on something else entirely.
I once heard a pastor at a local Phoenix area mega-church talk about the 3 kinds of churches that exist. The first church is a Bible church, that focuses primarily on the Word. The second is a Jesus church that focus mainly on the Person of Jesus. And the third kind of church, he said, was a Holy Spirit church, that was more so preoccupied with things of the Spirit.
Yesterday I posed the question: What is the purpose of church? It seems, at least based upon the comments left, that many of us agree on the answer to this question.
Yet, as I set out to write this post, I did a little research to see how others answered this question. There are wildly varying answers, to be sure. After a quick Google search, I found thousands of articles and blog posts asking this very same question, each with a different answer.
Some say that the purpose of the church is to evangelize. Others say that the Great Comission sums up the Church’s purpose. Even C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity says “the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs.”
Depending on who you stop on the street, you will most likely receive wildly varying opinions to the question “What is the purpose of the Church?”
Is the Church meant to do good? Feed the hungry? Care for the orphan and the widow? Is the Church’s purpose to be a light to a dark world or to edify the saints? Does it have to be one or the other?
As my husband and I are venturing into the new world of house church, we have been “talking church” and this question inevitably came up. We have also met some resistance from other Christians (big surprise) who question the practice of house church because they feel it falls short in the area of evangelism.
Today’s post is a guest post from my awesome, talented, and brilliant husband. I asked him to write this and he kindly agreed.
It’s not a competition. So why use such a divisive title? Because, somehow, that’s what it’s become.
When Nicole and I started down the road of beginning an organic church–The Foundation, for those interested (pardon the placeholder website)–we knew in our earliest of conversations with people that the greatest “persecution” we would face would be from those we loved most. From other believers, friends, even family.
Last week I shared with you some of my thoughts following a 4-day conference I attended discussing organic churches. Many of you had questions regarding the actual model and structure of an organic church.
I thought I’d try my best to address those questions. Firstly, let me state that while I tend to use the terms “house church” and “organic church” interchangeably, many who take part in organic church do not. The distinction they draw is that house churches are usually just shrunken, smaller versions of a Sunday morning service. Organic churches, on the other hand, are something all together different.
Over the last few days my husband and I attended an organic church (house church) conference, THRESHOLD, in Orlando. Despite being sore and tired both emotionally and physically from the car accident, we boarded a plane, knowing God had something for us there…and He did. I have so much that I hope to share and write about on Modern Reject over the next few weeks, including today’s post…
Growing up I used to love Chinese food buffets. I loved the variety, the endless row of choices. I would gorge myself of crab rangoons and sweet and sour chicken. My single mom liked buffets because they were cheap and easy. She could feed her growing girl for half the price.
I have been a Christian for about 13 years. Just about every Sunday, I wake up, get in the car, drive to a building, to then sit in a seat, sing, tithe, and listen to a man give a sermon.
The next Sunday, repeat.
Is that church though? Is the typical Sunday morning experience the church that Jesus and His disciples envisioned for Christians?
I believe the model of the church laid out in the book of Acts is the model that God desires for us. I believe God is asking us “My House or yours? Are you wanting My design for the church or man’s design for the church?”
The house church model or organic church model, very closely resembles the Acts church and rivals the standard Sunday morning model in many way:
1. Sunday morning church is a spectator sport where you sit and watch “special” people do “special” things.House church on the other hand, is a participatory sport wherein everyone contributes, making each person important or “special.” Just as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:14 “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” Also in verse 19-20 “If all were a single member,where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
2. Typical church does not encourage relationship or fellowship. You enter a building, sit in a seat, and maybe have a few minutes before service and after service to connect with people. House churches are designed with relationship in mind. They incorporate fellowship into every gathering, not a few minutes here and there.
3. Some people may not like this but within a house church it is impossible to remain nameless or anonymous. My husband and I started chatting with a couple at a breakfast spot one Sunday morning. Turned out we attended the same church at the time, which was a large 7,000 person church. The wife said “Don’t you just love a church that big? You can just slip in and slip out. No one even notices if you are there or not one Sunday.” My heart fell heavy. Church is not anonymity. Church is intimacy and accountability.
4. Sunday morning church services often make you choose. For instance, would you like to attend the “traditional service at 8:00 a.m.,” the “contemporary service at 10:00 a.m.,” or the “young singles service at 6:00 p.m.,” ? I believe that the church should consist of everyone, young and old, new in the faith and the mature in the faith. House churches encourage all walks of life to be engaged in church life together. That includes singles, marrieds, families, widows, and everything in between.
5. The inclusion of all ages and walks of life within a house church coupled with the house church structure also encourages real discipleship. My husband and I are true believers in the call to disciple others just as Jesus did with His twelve. I believe nothing helps further the growth and maturity of believers like discipleship. House churches help foster discipleship thus fostering qualitative and quantitative growth.
6. House churches are by design viral, quickly expandable, and easy to reproduce. Traditional churches are built from the ground up and then move vertically, structured with a hierarchy and leaders. House churches expand outward and move horizontally, where by every person is both participating and responsible for the outcome. This difference in direction allows for house churches to quickly and effectively multiply and fosters a sense of ownership among church members.
7. The benefit of quick multiplication is a rather obvious one: More people in a church home, faster. However there is also the added benefit of more rapidly and intentionally affecting a neighborhood or community. Since house churches can spread so quickly they can penetrate an entire neighborhood or community for Christ.
8. And what do you have when an entire community is introduced to a house church movement? True evangelism. (This concept gets me charged up). Essentially house churches say, “Don’t bring people to church…we will bring church to the people.” That I believe is God’s heart.
9. Finally, when you combine these ideas: intimacy, participation, accountability, fellowship, community, and evangelism, you are literally living life together as God called us to do so. That is the image that comes to my mind when I think of how church should be…living life together, in the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sharing in our joys, tribulations, and victories. A real family. A true representation of Christ. The blameless and spotless bride.
There is much more to say on the subject of house churches. I could go on and on. I presently attend a traditional Sunday church service, through which I am blessed, encouraged, and admonished. However, I know that the Lord is calling myself and my family to something different. I crave the closeness, community, and vitality that a house church can offer. I long to feel significant, knowing that I, along with every other person, is designed to participate within the body. I am ready for something more than a 2 hour Sunday service. I am ready for God’s House…are you?
Does the house church movement sound appealing or unappealing to you? What do you like about traditional church service? What do you dislike?