Please Stop Building Religious Towers of Babel Part One


 

“Dealing With the House Church”

            Some years ago, I was an Elder at a local church here in Jacksonville. It was a time of transition, I remember, as our Presbyter was moving on to answer his apostolic calling and the new “Pastor” was stepping in. The ordination ceremony and all the prophetic symbolisms were already done in a Sunday public service and we were now down to business. Not too long after that glorious ordination, the transfer of the mantel and all that good stuff; we found ourselves one night in a very tense room at our church as all of the elders, the new pastor, the former “Pastor” and the Pastor’s spiritual father were discussing leadership and the vision for the house, etc. Everybody and their mamas who was anybody were at that meeting. You could see the division coming from miles away. The meeting was so bad that when I went home I was inspired to write a song entitled: “There must be a better way.” I have not stopped singing that song since!

            Galatians 5:19 tells us, “Now the works of the flesh are evident…” It is very easy to point out what is wrong with the traditional church and it is also very easy to see what is wrong with our brothers and sisters. The challenge is to see what is wrong with us. The church as we know it has some very serious issues; some of these issues are the key factors in encouraging the formation of more and more “house churches.” Some of these issues are very obvious:

  • Some people in the Body of Christ are fed up with the “One Man Show” we have going in our local churches.
  • There is a sincere desire in the heart of many believers to see the flowing of the gifts in the Body of Christ. This manifestation of gifts becomes very challenging because of the structure of many of our local church services today.
  • Many are recognizing how weak our relationships are; we have, at the most, a “God bless you relationship” with the people we “Go to church” with.
  • The whole “ordained” minister versus the “lay people” has become an intolerable heresy. We are all ministers!
  • Valid questions are being raised concerning the appropriate stewardship of money and resources given to the traditional church as it refers to the expenses related to enormous buildings.

 

            All-In-all, many of our “home churches” are forming for the same reasons churches are being divided: People are not having their way; therefore in many cases, like spoil babies, they go on and start their own thing. The problem is that they are not really starting anything new; many of these people are hurt, wounded and to a degree rebellious and all they are doing is spending the majority of their time together criticizing the system that they supposedly came out of. The question is: Do you have something new and fresh from God? Do you have something so powerful that it will go beyond meetings? The hypocrisy is sickening and no longer tolerable for me. It is like the local churches that claim to be multi-cultural, but after the service is over; Anglo’s go one way, Hispanics go with their folk, African American’s do their thing, and Asian’s do the same and so on. This is not a multi-cultural church; these people are not in each other’s lives; they are not invited to birthday parties and family and friends gatherings. We just hang out for two hours on Sundays to kill the guilt we feel for our un-confronted prejudice.

            Beloved, if a “house church” is not developing relationships outside of the normal meeting hours; if people are not being real; if people are not confessing their sins because such weak relationships; if people are not even convicted to develop a prayer life, then what is the purpose of “House Churches?” What are they doing that is so special? Are they offering a new thing or more of the same?

            I heard of a lady in Samaria that had five divorces and was living with another man and after having an encounter with Jesus she evangelized the sinful and rejected Samaritan city. I heard that people loved Jesus so much that they were immediately hungry for Him and asked Him to stay a little longer. This Samaritan woman is; without a doubt, one of the most effective leaders of the New Testament without much of a reputation, without formal theological training and without experience; she brought people to Jesus as she humbly got out of the way. Thereby this amazing woman created an environment in which the people were embracing an awareness of the free access that they had to Jesus. (John 4)

To be continued…

3 thoughts on “Please Stop Building Religious Towers of Babel Part One

  1. Although I have yet to meet a Christian who will not agree that the church is the people of God we generally make three common mistakes when it comes to church as people:

    1) We fail to recognize that to be the people of God is a communal identity.  Mostly we operate more as a collection of individuals. But being a Christian means a change of identity. We become a child of our Heavenly Father, which has a very definite set of implications.  This part of identity we are often very good at talking about and working out. But we are called not to be individual persons of God.  God is always in the Bible calling us to be a part of the people of God.  We are called to belong to God’s people, family, church, community.

    2) Our identity as church is solely based around the gathering.  Church is what happens when people Christians gather together and listen to the Word.  This is too narrow a view on church. It is not our identity.  Our primary identity is perhaps a worker, a father, a husband, a lawyer, etc, rather than as a member of God’s covenant people. What difference does this actually make?  Ask yourself how you decide where you will live?  Near to work, safe neighborhood for the kids, good job opportunities, near to a favorite leisure opportunity, people of a similar culture/economic strata?  How significant in the decision is your role as a member of God’s covenant community?  Or even more pointed of a particular local expression of the church? If your primary identity is church – then surely the first consideration ought to be – how would this move affect my local community; how can this move enhance my current ministry; to what ministry is God calling me now – where can I live in order to better facilitate this?  It is out of our identity that we make these kind of life decisions.  Our actions often betray our functional beliefs. For many of us church is an individual preference event that we attend (we can always find another if the event is no longer up to scratch) rather than a communal identity as the people of God on mission together.

    3) Our structures do not support our theology – even if we agree that being the church is more than certain meetings, often our practice sends another message. The reality is that many churches may have their values and theology correct but their structures in fact work against their theology.  For many churches the people are kept so busy keeping the programs running and attending meetings that there is little time for community to be forged.  There is no time for eating together, playing together, sharing life together outside of the formal programs of the church.  So while there is some level of community formed it is often found to be lacking when life falls apart.  When people are unable to be a part of the programs of the church – they suddenly find they have no community outside of the formal structures. And if it is true that people within the church cannot find time to have another Christian couple round for dinner. What of their unbelieving neighbors?

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