Fame? Fortune? Prestige? Probably not!
Is it because this is the “Scripturally correct” thing to do? Well… I do think Scripture has something to say about the primary church gathering being small, simple, family-style, and home based. Paul repeated this type of statement a number of times: “Please give my greetings to the church that meets in their home.” (Romans 16:5)
And, well, I do see Scripture pointing significantly to participatory gatherings, as per 1 Corinthians 14:26.
On the other hand, I do not see the overall tenor of the New Testament church as being one that focused heavily on “the form” or “the model” of church. Church, the people of God, is simply believers living an everyday lifestyle of worship, service, obedience, loving others, etc, etc. Yes, they gathered to bless and encourage one another, but, honestly, the form of these gatherings was not addressed with great emphasis. I think it was assumed that if Christians lived passionately for God, then gatherings would happen quite easily, organically, and… often very simply.
So… why do we do this house church / simple church thing?
Alan Creech says that we need to understand and do church differently because there is a “deep lack of real transformation going on in the Body of Christ.” I think this statement sheds some additional light.
But, I would add more. Yes, there is a Scriptural basis for small intimate gatherings. Yes, there is a need for deeper transformation in the Body of Christ.
And… overall… we want to participate with God in His life and in His purpose on the earth.
So… here is my list:
I believe in gatherings that are small, because we need the support, encouragement, and deeper growth that comes from this type of community.
I believe in gatherings where everyone is known so that no one gets lost.
I believe in gatherings where we can learn from each other’s personal lives and stories (not just head knowledge) so that growth and discipleship takes place in the context of genuine, healthy relationship.
I believe in gatherings that are participatory because this involves and engages the entire body of Christ.
I believe in gatherings that call the body of Christ to take responsibility for its own spiritual life and stop relying on mediators, events, or someone else to “bring us the goods” because we need to grow up.
I believe in gatherings that are simple so that we are free to spend time with nonChristians and have the time to invite them into our lives.
I believe in gatherings that are easily multiplied, so that we can see people released to reach people anywhere, disciple people everywhere, and start “churches” at any time in any place.
I believe in gatherings that are inexpensive so that money is freed up for apostolic workers and the needs of the poor.
I guess that’s it!
Is there one particular “model” that all of this fits into? I think God will constantly challenge, stretch, and re-shape our man-made attempts to “do” church gatherings. And I think that is okay. The point is to keep focusing on maximizing our life with Him, our partnership with His purposes, and our spiritual growth.
And, for me for now, this means keeping the whole dog-gone thing simple, simple, simple.