House Church Talk - Why we gather

jim sutton goodword at
Mon Aug 2 10:00:35 EDT 2004

Why do we gather for worship and fellowship as hc?

I've been pondering the things I've observed -- especially lately -- among 
believers.  And I notice that we in the hc can be tempted, just as anyone 
else, to neglect the very best reasons for gathering as we do.  We may also 
bring into our gatherings and attempts at fellowship something that does not 

Some in the hc have learned that they can avoid facing their own problems by 
deflecting the attention of the group away to a "common enemy" -- the ic.  If 
anything gets near to exposing their hearts, or touching their lives for good, 
they imeediately start beating the old "ic" drum.  If anyone says something 
they don't like, they denounce it as being "ic" in character.

In some cases, the ic is obviously being used as a straw man.  Politicians 
learned long ago how to use a common enemy to keep people together and to 
divert attention from the real problems closer to home.  The Soviets tried to 
keep the "revolution" going for over 70 years. 

We don't want to play anything like this in our own Christian fellowships.  In 
hc we don't meet because of, or even around the topic of' the ic.  We meet 
because we're followers of Jesus Christ.  He's real the center of our lives, 
our gatherings, our times of fellowship and sharing as believers.

Our function as believers is to glorify the Lord Jesus, to worship Him, and to 
encourage and "build up" the body.  Our lives, and certainly our times of 
gathering with other believers, should be centered on Jesus Christ Himself.

Yes, many in the hc fellowships have had some bad, maybe even strange and 
traumatic experiences with ic groups, ic organizations, ic preachers, etc. 
 And so we're very likely going to talk about those times, and we should work 
together, as the Lord leads us, to make sure that such things are not repeated 
in the hc groups we meet with.  Let no one be crushed by our attempts to hold 
a status quo.

But the ic should not be the central focus of our talk, our fellowship, our 

I like the Scripture in Mark, chapter 3, where the Lord's mother and siblings 
came looking for Him.  Word gets through the crowd to Jesus that His family is 
outside.  Mark says, "And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about 
Him, and said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers!'"  (Mark 3:34)

Jesus was in the center of that meeting which filled the house to overflowing. 
 As He turned, all the way around, the people were all gathered there to see 
Him and to hear Him.  All of them centered their attention on Him.  Isn't that 
how any ic gathering should be?

Yes, those people all had problems.  And some had been terribly abused by the 
religious system then in place.  Many could tell horror stories about Scribes, 
and Pharisees, and Sadducees who had wronged poor widows, or who had driven 
innocent Jews out from their synagogues for political or even personal 
reasons.  But as our Lord Jesus turned all the way around, all their eyes and 
ears were on Him.

Any root of bitterness that we have in our hearts toward other believers -- or 
even toward unbelieving religious leaders -- in the ic need to be forgiven and 
dropped at the feet of our Lord Jesus.  If we do not let go of it, it will 
continue its deadly work of destroying our own lives and hearts.

If we blame all our unhappiness, our anger, our frustrations in life on the ic 
today, then we avoid facing the real problem, the real root of our troubles -- 
our own tendency to sin against God, against other people, and even against 
the working of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.  And if we do not grow in 
God's grace, if we continually resist the Holy Spirit, then we will someday be 
blaming our unhappiness on the people we now gather with.

We are warned in the NT letter to the Hebrews to beware the root of bitterness 
(Heb 12:15).  And that root is our own unbelief, our own sinful condition when 
we resist God's grace -- yes, even as believers.  And if allowed to remain in 
us, unexposed, it will destroy us and any real fellowship we ever hope to 
enjoy with other believers.  

Ecclesiastes 9:18 says: "Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner 
destroys much good."  One who will not let go of his bitterness can trouble 
and even ruin an entire fellowship, if we allow that single root to remain in 
us and grow.  Best always to admit the problem, face it, deal with it, and be 
free to live on and rejoice.

Jesus should be the "why" in all areas of our lives as believers -- especially 
the "why" that we gather together and share with each other.  Let's always 
keep Him the center of our attention, both as a group and as individual 

Let's imitate the people in that crowded little house who were all gathered -- 
not around their problems, and not around talk of what others had wrongly done 
to them, but around the Lord Jesus Himself.  They were there to hear Him (Luke 
8:21) and to have their lives transformed by His healing touch, His awesome 
Presence, His true and faithful Word.


House Church Talk is sponsored by the House Church Network.

House Church Talk has been renamed. These discussions, via the web, now occur at the Radically Christian Cafe.