House Church Talk - Fw: John's reply to Link on HC Covenants

His Servant His_Servant_4evr at
Sun Aug 8 22:44:41 EDT 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: DenverWH at 
To: link at ; His_Servant_4evr at 
Sent: Sunday, August 08, 2004 10:50 AM
Subject: John's reply to Link on HC Covenants

Feel free to send this to your list if you feel it would be helpful.  -John

Hi Link,

I appreciated your comments about the subject of HC covenants and the spirit with which you made them.  Here are a few more of my thoughts on this discussion.

1.  In general I believe we should be creating safe environments to discuss subjects like this.  This is an important topic and we all have a lot to learn (I know I do).  Let's invite different points of view and treat them all with respect.  Further, let's be creating environments where it is safe to experiment.  Discussion is good but often we need to try things out and see if it works (ie, is effective at making disciples).  

2.  Let's get over our wounding from the traditional church.  Martin Luther said that "the church is like a drunken horseman - prop him up on one side and he falls off on the other."  That is to say, we should be aware of our tendency to overreact to past abuses.  The traditional church was often controlling and overly structured.  It may be that doing away with all structure or expectations is an example of "falling off the horse" on the other side.  We need to have respectful (not reactionary) discussions of these issues.

3.  We need to understand the season we are in.  My perception is that up until 3-4 years ago, the house church movement involved a small number of relatively isolated groups around the country.  But in recent years, many whole networks of house churches are springing up.  This is a new season and I submit that we have a lot to learn about how networks work.  We might do well to sit at the feel of people like Curtis Sargeant (one of the speakers at the HC Conference) who worked closely with networks in Asia that numbered in the millions.  At the very least, I want to hear from people who have planted and are nurturing 10-20 house churches.

4.  The Covenant that I sent out was not meant to be "the" example.  It was written by a brother who has planted seven churches in six months.  He's working hard to understand how to give appropriate oversight to what God is doing.  My guess is that he will learn a lot more in the next six months and will probably rewrite the covenant.  My hope is that we will come up with a hundred examples of how to plant and nurture networks of churches and that we will be able to learn from and validate one another.  Every one of these networks will have some set of values and some way of communicating them.  It may be spoken or unspoken, written or unwritten.

5.  One of your concerns about using a covenant was that it might bring guilt on those involved.  I can see how this could happen.  However, in this case, Tim is using the word "covenant" to mean an understanding or agreement.  He isn't intending some heavy super spiritual commitment.  What he is communicating is something like this:  "There are lots of ways of doing church.  This covenant expresses some of my values and what I believe God has called me to.  I would be glad to have you travel along with me if these are your values also.  If not, no problem.  There are lots of other good churches (both traditional and house)."

6.  You mentioned that a reason for having a covenant or confession was pragmatism.  I agree.  (By the way, I think Paul was also quite pragmatic.)  It may or may not be necessary to have some sort of an articulated agreement within one house church.  However, when multiple house churches are in relationship, the need for some statement of common values grows.  I think the greatest reason is for clarity.  It lets people know up front what is expected of them and what they can expect from others.  That way, they can decide if the Lord wants them to be involved with that network or not.

Hope that helps some.  I look forward to your further insights.

John White
Denver, CO

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