Begin by Beginning
As you would lay the foundations for your own church at home, remember that you are acting upon an ancient Biblical and a historical precedent. A practical one, too. You are acting upon the Word of God - not reacting or overreacting to something or someone else. You are building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the solid rock.
Do not however expect too much nor too little from your initial endeavors. Thunder and lightning won't occur. Christian meetings, although essential, are not and were not meant to be an end in themselves. Their purpose is to equip, edify, encourage, and excite the saints for something else - ministry or service. The popular view that spirituality is essentially measured by the number of "services" that one attends is quite erroneous. We are recreated in Christ for good works. Ephesians. 2:10, Titus 2:14, Hebrews 10:24. Too many Christians seem to be living for the sole purpose of attending another meeting. This is living to eat instead of eating to live. This is buying an automobile in order to drive back and forth to the filling station.
What about yourself, dear reader? How is your progress in this new direction? Have you yet decided what to call your own meetings as you consider what ministries you will undertake and whom you would invite? Simply call it a Christian meeting, gathering, home fellowship, home church, house church, small group, or just church.
Is someone suggesting that you are being too seperatistic? Simply invite that someone to your meeting! Did someone say that you have insufficient accountability? Invite this person to enter into a personal accountability relationship with you. Do you feel that you're not qualified to initiate a meeting? Wrong. Do you feel uncomfortable to lead in prayer? Pray silently then. Your confidence in this area will come later.
Do you feel that it would be improper to eat the Lord's Supper in your own home or even outdoors? Really? For what reason?
Did you ever notice that Scripture is completely silent about "starting a church". Or "organizing a church"? This is because there is but one church and it has already begun. Thus in Scripture, we read about those who "were added to the church" - not about those who started churches in this place or another.
Objections arise. "But we have no pastor". Maybe not but it is nothing to be ashamed of. Shepherds do not magically appear. It takes time and experience. Surely one would not fault a young couple who were childless. Nor would you accuse them of not having a real family. That would be cruel.
Yes, the New Testament often speaks of leaders. And of churches which are incomplete without them. But notice that the churches existed nonetheless, prior to the appointment of officers.
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. Titus 1:5.
And notice that the elders were city-wide elders in the above context. Interesting.
Simply said, if you are a Christian, you are a minister-servant of Jesus Christ and a priest unto the Lord God. You are the 'highest' which God has ordained to do the 'lowest'. Mark 9:35, Mark 10:44. Act accordingly and enter into God's glorious liberty. And fail not to accept the accompanying responsibility to spread the mercy and truth of our Risen Savior, as you find, disciple, and join with like-minded friends.
So, begin by beginning. Like skating in order to learn to skate. Like riding a bike to learn to ride a bike. Yes, the hardest part of a task is getting started. That is why we must continue to encourage one another as we enter the future by returning to the past.
David, thanks so much for this post--you articulated so well what the house church is--loved all of it! Your analogies of 'begin by beginning' (perfect title!) were just what I needed to hear! Blessings, Cyndi0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hi sister and other thoughtful discussion readers,
I once privately heard from a guy who said that he used to have great home meetings which may have been "church". Yes they were, I thought to myself.
Can I tie this in with another concept pertaining to another phrase which constantly comes up here - "starting a house church". And yet another - "church planter".
I am quite surprized that in reading the scriptures, there is _nothing_ about starting churches nor planting churches nor organizing such. No one is referred to as a church planter. No one is told to do such. No core group is viewed as waiting to become a church.
This isn't just an insignificant detail! Yet there are some in the house church movement who seem to be preoccupied with church planting and church planters...
The tremendous reality here is that Jesus himself will build his church. No one needs to start one or plant one because its already been done once and for all. He did it and did it right.
The divine arrangement is (1.) to preach the gospel to all and then (2.) to simply meet AS the church.
God has always been jealous for his own sovereign glory. Jealous is his name. Man's mindset says that the harvest is great, the laborers are few - therefore it must be up to us. God says, "No - pray to Me that I will send forth laborers into MY harvest."
Jesus, in whom all power is deposited, has commanded us to go into the world and proclaim the good news to every creature. The saving faith that they exercise is from God, too - lest anyone should boast. Eph 2.
Our Heavenly Father has so ordered all events that all glory goes to Him. No wonder Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." No wonder he commanded us to do all to the glory of God.
Unshackled house church Christians can easily implement these earth-shaking ideals. Let us arise and give Him glory for all things.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
David, I love this, "Too many Christians seem to be living for the sole purpose of attending another meeting. This is living to eat instead of eating to live. This is buying an automobile in order to drive back and forth to the filling station. "
Also:"So, begin by beginning. Like skating in order to learn to skate. Like riding a bike to learn to ride a bike. Yes, the hardest part of a task is getting started. That is why we must continue to encourage one another as we enter the future by returning to the past. "
I have used a similar analogy for the trade that has provided for my family for 40 years. A man put a paint brush in my and and showed me how to brush back and forth, until I became a painter!0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dan, that is an understatement. Actually, you were the regular painter for the governor's mansion in the capital of Ohio. Wow.
Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank. Proverbs 22.
Again, I wrote to the effect that I was unaware of any first century Christians going out to plant or start or organize or organize churches. Rather, IMHO, they sought first to preach the good news then to encourage the new converts to meet as the church or, if you will, as a church.
Yes, there is plenty said about planting and watering but it's related to the gospel seed - not to church formations or structures.
Again, I am fascinated that in reading the scriptures, there is _nothing_ about starting churches or planting churches. No one is referred to as a church planter. No one is told to do such.
This isn't just an insignificant detail or just semantics. The tremendous reality here is that Jesus himself will build his church. No one needs to start one or plant one because its already been done once and for all. He did it and did it right.
We thus read: Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Acts 11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.
** This is why the Roman Churches, which Paul said he had not yet visited were ALREADY in existence. Attendees at Pentecost just took the message back home. **
1 Cor. 11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye *come together not for the better, but for the worse.
1 Cor. 11:18 For first of all, when ye *come together in the church*, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
1Cor. 11:20 When ye *come together therefore into one place*, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
1Cor. 11:33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye *come together to eat, tarry one for another.
1Cor. 14:23 If therefore the whole church be *come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
1Cor. 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye *come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
(To this list could be added the many texts that speak of gathering together and gathering in Jesus' name and forsaking not the gathering together.)
Furthermore, if we were ordered to "start" churches, surely there would be minimum requirements or specific instructions as to what this would entail. Surely there would be some mention of a "core group" somewhere waiting to attain "real church" status. Most assuredly would someone, somewhere be referred to as a church planter.
Unfortunately, much house church literature is full of "church planting", "church planters" and of outsiders needing to come in to assist... One writer even boasted that the real church planters today were the ones trained by him. : )
The modern plan for "starting churches" is, I believe, from the same factory which gave us the sacraments, and priestly kinds of church leaders who had the sole right to "adminster" them. When they speak of starting churches what they mean is starting a catholic-type parish where everything will essentially be centered around the pastor, "officers", and the building.
Furthermore. It should also be noted that no one in the Biblical history is ever said to have "joined a church". WOW! This is because membership goes into effect at conversion.
I realize that this may just sound like technicalities or trivialities but I believe that we often put the cart before the horse in these pursuits. It is a bit like a woman who is in a turmoil about wanting a family but hasn't yet found a husband.
All of us desire the same thing - to see more conversions and to see Christians meeting as the Church. My question is "What does it take and who does it take?"
Sorry, but I cannot see in the scripture that every church had to resemble every other one in every aspect. Consider the synagogue, a prototype of the church. It was the natural outgrowth of the social needs of God's people. It was not commanded but rather organically adopted. Eventually it was endorsed by the Lord and his apostles. Yes or no?
I am in search of the lowest common denominator when it comes to the Kingdom's advancement strategy and meeting the needs of Christians to meet together. To add to God's prescription is to put myself in bondage and become a stumbling block to others.
This plan which I have proposed, of course, does not preclude a specialist or many specialists who could expedite matters either in person or via letters or email. One may construct a house or he may employ professional builders (or both).
Whatever you want to call them - church planters or apostles, etc - there just doesn't seem to be enough of them to go around. But, if one should happen to come along to assist that would be WONDERFUL.
In summary: 1. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. Assemble in His name. 3. Exercise your gifts for the good of others. 4. Proclaim Christ and let this wonderful cycle begin again.0 0 0 0 0 0 0