Monday, May 26, 2008

Are the Houses Starting to Change the World?

Andrew Jones has provided a couple of links to articles on the strategic value of organizing in small communities on his fabulous Tall Skinny Kiwi blog. These articles are not really saying anything new, Jones himself had blogged on it a while back and articles in mainstream media were already surfacing in the early 2000's (e.g. Laurie Goodstein, "Seach for the Right Church Ends at Home,"
New York Times). In the Huffington Post article, the number of those that have experienced a house church is 70 million. That is an extraordinary number and it is telling. The trend is growing and might not be too far from becoming mainstream. And then we have to be careful. It is the mainstreaming of something that changes its character.

  • Focus on the form- There will be a subtle temptation to become more focused on the house church structure than on the allowing the structure to foster a community of growing Jesus-followers. The form is being mimicked by business and political strategists, which have very different bottom lines. We will need to ensure that we are characterized by our Jesusness and not our external forms or structures.
  • Cool and easy- Whenever the church or a movement within the church becomes the accepted norm, it becomes attractive to the casual Christian. The true good news of Jesus demands a followship that is anything but casual. House church, simple churches, small faith communities will need to work very hard to maintain the radical intensity of a community committed to the way of Jesus.
  • Comfortable- House churches can become comfortable, sedentary, and even institutional just like any other church or organized group of humans. There will arise a need for house churches and networks to establish themselves with longevity. The need for this feeling of something more lasting is understandable but antithetical to the need for the continued self-emptying of the church. The church must be willing to constantly go and make disciples, which may cost that expression of the local house church in process. The going of the church is painful and uncertain, but essential.

Don't get me wrong. I love churching in a small, simple, reproducible manner. I love bringing the church into our homes and our homes into the church. But if we really want to change the world, we must remain centered on Jesus and learn from the pitfalls of the past.

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