We have invited some folk from our community who are interested in learning a little more about the "house church movement" to join us for some coffee and discussion. It has provoked me to reflect again on the basics which I always find to be an invigorating and useful exercise.
So, if you do not mind, I will use y'all for a sounding board here by outlining some of my thoughts.
- The "house church movement" is not about getting the church out of bigger buildings and into smaller, homier, ones. I would suggest that it is about seeing the church become a movement again as intended. In other words, the church is God's people lit up by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Our sense of this, from the New Testament, is that God intended his church, his people, to truly be a wildfire taking his life, power, and transformation from one person to the next until the world is engulfed with him. God was and is on the move through his people. A movement that is led by the Spirit of God (the church) can not be contained nor controlled without it losing its very essence. In that sense, he never intended for us to build fireplaces.
- Over the years we have, with very good intentions, become focused on building fireplaces. Much good has come from this. However, we have often found ourselves so busy with housing the fire that we have lost the intensity and fervor that fuels a movement. It is this movement that God has always been after and that he is restoring.
- Simplifying church back to its basics makes room for us to re-align our time and energy with God's purposes to fuel movements of his Holy Spirit everywhere. Just because we have simplified church does not mean this will happen. But it does provide the opportunity for us to put the priority focus back on those things that can facilitate that movement.
- The basics of "simplified church" are:
- Shared community life. This simple dynamic is far more powerful than we realize. It is the basis for transformation as well as for support for the "quests" that each of us are called to be a part of.
- Participatory community life. This is also a simple concept with powerful results. As each one learns to take responsibility and develop his or her gifts for the good of the community (1 Cor 14:26), there is a maturing process for the whole body of Christ that is so vitally needed. We become "self-feeders" rather than living dependently on others to bring us the milk of the word. We are thus equipped to become mature disciples and to multiply ourselves in others.
- Missional living. We discover the joy and adventure of partnering with God out in the world where life happens and where God's life is meant to be shared. This is a unique journey for each and every person and we are not expecting one person's adventure to look like anothers. But... we learn to get out of our Christian-go-to-meetin' comfort zones and allow God to develop our missional-adventure-partnership-with-God lives.
Well... that's a basic outline! It's a challenge to walk it out. Pitfalls and victories along the way. Stumbling and learning as part of the process. But at this stage in my Christian life, I would not want to be pursuing anything short of God lighting us all on fire for his purposes.