The other day, I was relating a story to my husband about something great God had done. “Yeah, and then God did this and then He did that. He healed them. He saved them! It was awesome. You know, God is good. Blah, blah, blah.”
My husband immediately caught my slip and burst out laughing. “God is good. Blah, blah, blah?” he asked.
I hadn’t even realized I’d said it, but I had meant it. I had be re-telling a story about God’s awesomeness, His power, His redemption and I just reduced His goodness to “blah, blah, blah.”
The role of pastor is perhaps the most prestigious within the American Church. Most of us have had a pastor at one point or another–the guy who speaks from the pulpit, or runs a particular ministry, or leads a home group.
The gift of pastor is often referred to as an spiritual gift of equipping, listed alongside teachers, apostles, prophets, and evangelists. In Ephesians 4:12 Paul writes, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”
I have always wondered, however, how it is that many pastors are actually confused with teachers and many teachers are confused with pastors.
The word for “pastors”–without delving into the historical evolution of that word–is by Greek definition, poimēn, which literally translates, “shepherd.” They are to shepherd their flock. They make sure people are enfolded into the flock, growing safely, and protected from the wolves.
Chances are that the person who you think of as your pastor today may not actually be fulfilling the role of pastor in your life. Chances are someone else very well could be. The question is: Who’s your pastor?
When I thought of Jesus, I used to think of a lover. He is the lover of our souls, after all. When we see images or interpretations of Jesus in Biblical times, He is always portrayed as gentle, kind, and loving. I always used to imagine Him almost whispering His parables, as if to say, “Hush, still your hearts, quiet yourselves before me, and listen to what I am saying…shhh.”
We have all seen the stereotypical Jesus painting: The Son of Man, in a white flowing robe, with children, sheep, or both, strewn around His feet.
Shortly after becoming a Christian, while sitting in church one Sunday morning, my pastor gave a sermon that helped shape my view about sin forever.
He asked us to imagine that God had declared a day, Free Sin Day (which he pointed out would of course never happen). On Free Sin Day, we believers could commit whatever sin we wanted with no consequences or repercussions. We were absolutely free to sin that day, no shame, no guilt, no worry.
My best friend who was sitting next to me looked over at me. She smiled. I smiled. We both knew exactly what the other one was thinking. I knew what sin she would commit and she knew what sin I would commit. Continue reading Free Sin Day
Most Christians are really good at saying “Yes, all I have is His,” and what we are saying (or what we pretend to be saying) is that our “things” and our money ultimately belong to God.
We make grand gestures about it all belonging to Him. We talk about the fact that our earthly possessions are just that…earthly. We nod our head in conversation with other believers about our financial responsibilities. We use words like “tithe”, “give”, and “steward.”
But when do we really give? And how generous is this so-called giving? Does it make us uncomfortable when we fill out the check or do we not give it a second thought? Do we tithe our 10% consistently? Or forget that, do we tithe above and beyond that 10%? Do we tithe even when our rent or mortgage is late and our fridge is empty?
I’ve known so many. I’ve met so many believers who are alone. Alone in the Body. Alone in their thinking and doctrine. Alone in their expression of church.
We all know them–the person who doesn’t attend church or isn’t part of any church community. The person who walks around feeling isolated even among other Christ-followers. The person who is rejected or misunderstood for whatever reason.
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.
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?