(See note.) To know what works for a group, determine what works for you the individual.
For a house church to be successful the group must regulate themselves in the same manner an individual is to regulate him/herself. This is simple and this is important and this is the topic of this article.
The answer to “How should we do this?” is the same as “How should I do this?” The answer to “What does the Lord want us to do?” is probably the same as “What does the Lord want me to do?” An example….
Some have an aversion to organization, perhaps a backlash against the OC (organized church). Should the house church adopt this same attitude? The answer is the same for us as it is for me. God is immutable. Holiness doesn’t allow a double standard. Wisdom doesn’t have opposing solutions. All are called to build on the words of our Christ. God’s ways do not change when one becomes two, when two becomes three, when three becomes a multitude. Because He changes not, neither do we.
Should you the individual be disorganized? Of course not. Therefore, applying the above logic, a group of individuals should not be disorganized. The OC did not invent organization. The opposite of organized is disorganized. God seems to be a very organized person. It’s hard to think of Jesus being disorganized. Perhaps organization isn’t so bad after all. Organization should not be a god to be served but an instrument to utilize. The goal is to tap into the order of the Holy Spirit. Lord, should we meet at seven or eight? Tuesdays or Sundays? Here or there?
Another question: Should we, as a group, be casual and spontaneous? The answer is the same as the answer to the question, Should I be casual and spontaneous, go wherever, do whatever, whenever? We take the me answer and apply it to us.
Jesus was not casual. And Jesus certainly was not frivolous. He set His face like a flint. He had a cup to drink, a course to complete, a job to do. The individual is His disciple, serious because He is, focused because He is, determined because He is. ‘My’ calling is to pursue Christ, my passion pleases Him. Likewise we are His disciples, we are to be focused, and our passion pleases Him. A group cannot gather unto Christ casually; we can only be casual when He is far from our thoughts, more infatuated with each other than with Him. Save casual for heaven. We live in a war zone. Planet earth needs earnest warriors.
One more: What makes a house church successful? Only a healthy attachment to the Vine makes the christian healthy, and only a healthy attachment to the Vine will make a house church healthy.
C h a l l e n g e : Is Jesus lord in fact or lord symbolically? Submitting to the leadership of the Holy Spirit is submitting to the lordship of Jesus in fact.
P r a y e r : Father, may we be good for each other. May we each be warmed by the glow of our love for Your Son. Father, anoint these words. (And hopefully the reader responds, “Amen!”)
This formula (what works for me works for us) really is a proficient means of determining what works well for a HC gathering. Another example….
Prayer. I can better realize the importance of prayer for the well-being of any HC by comprehending my own need for prayer. I can have a better life by praying for a better life. I can have more eternal treasures in heaven by making that a serious, ongoing request. Didn’t our Lord Jesus say, “Ask, and you will receive”?
As I have an enemy, we have an enemy. The guy that wants “to kill, and to destroy” me also wants “to kill, and to destroy” any HC fervently gathering unto our Christ. Prayer helps protect me and us.
The HC wanting more of the Holy Spirit should pray for it. Want to be protected from false teachings? …. pray for protection. Want more good fruit? …. pray for more fruit. Want your praise and worship to be more meaningful? …. “Ask, and you will receive.”
One more example, the elder question….
Should the HC have elders, and if so what is their role? The answer is the same answer to the question every believer should ask oneself, “Should I have an elder in my life, and if so what should be his/her role?”
You probably do have elders in your life, but not titled as such. (Perhaps you are an elder to others.) You want the elder to lead you by example, and not be invasive. Someone has well said the role of an elder is advisory, not executive. No one should obstruct the sovereignty of God over you. The relationship with an elder should be reciprocal, not one way; even though the elder has been around longer, he/she can also learn from you. Certainly you do not want the elders in your life to have occasional closed meetings to decide how to direct your life.
Now transport that same logic to your HC. Within the group there are elders, though they may not be titled. (Perhaps you are an elder.) You want the elders to lead by example, and not be invasive. The role of an elder is advisory, not executive. No one should obstruct the sovereignty of God over the HC. The relationship with elders should be reciprocal, not one way; you learn from them, they learn from you. Certainly you do not want elders in the HC to have occasional closed meetings to decide how to direct the meetings, etcetera.
Most church splits are from the top down, not the bottom up. To avoid division (not all division is bad) the HC should not have even a whiff of ecclesiasticism – no top, no bottom. Elders given an official position of leadership could well compete with each other for top influence, thus grieving the Holy Spirit, thus compromising the entire HC.
These are but a few of many critical issues every HC can face. Can you think of an instance whereby this principle (what works for me works for us) will not work?
Note: This article is taken from a series of articles, So You Want to Start a House Church (available at www.larryjones.ca).