Christianity is ultra-simple if we remove all the unnecessary and burdensome paraphernalia, the detrimental extras best described as religion.
Jesus said and says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
There is no religion in The Great Invitation expressed various ways in red words. Coming to Christ isn’t to be a visit, or even a series of visits. He calls His own into permanent togetherness, a mingling of hearts. We are invited to rest continually with the One always at rest, not just a sabbath rest but a continuous monday to sunday calmness.
This generous offer is, generally speaking, ignored. For the few seriously embracing it, rest in Christ, though never fully realized this side of the grave, will slowly overtake anxiety. Life will get continuously better.
A smart HC will say “Yes and amen!” to Christ’s beckoning into permanent fellowship. They will help each other stay focused on The Great Invitation by preaching “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” to each other. They will submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit during their gatherings and be alert for the intentional and unintentional usurper. (Perhaps unintentional outnumbers intentional.) And this leads to pertinent questions…
Whose responsibility is it to protect the governorship of the Holy Spirit?
All but one in the HC share that responsibility – that One being the Holy Spirit Himself. A guest should never impose himself. If the Holy Spirit detects an agreement in the hearts of most to submit to the leadership of a man (an elder, a ‘reverend’, a whatever) He will certainly honor their collective free will.
Who would dare usurp the Holy Spirit?
If there is a controller in the HC gathering (and there is little chance there will not be at least one) he (she) will, if given opportunity, eventually (perhaps quickly) take control. From his perspective he is the most able to lead the group to where he believes the group should go. From his perspective he should take control before one less able does so. From his perspective he is simply protecting the sheep from doctrine inferior to his own.
Ex-pastors might simply assume leadership, and the rest accept his leadership as God-ordained. (It would be interesting to know the percentage of ex’s that give leadership in HCs.) The person who lives in the home where the HC gathers could presume to have the right to direct. Elders might form an eldership whereby they become the decision makers and directors.
So what’s the answer?
Someone must, with the consent of all, establish the HC in such a way that sole leadership falls upon the Holy Spirit (the Lord Jesus leads and directs and nurtures the HC through the Holy Spirit.) Some would call such a person a church-planter. Perhaps a more Bible-friendly term would be an apostle, though some shy from the mere mention of that word.
What is an apostle?
The Amplified Bible calls an apostle “a special messenger”. The message is not special (there is only one message), but the apostle has a special anointing to bring Christ to others and establish a christian community of believers. Whether that is or isn’t an accurate conjecture is of little importance. What may be necessary is that someone, someone particularly loyal to Lord Jesus, someone local or someone brought in, gets the HC on track.
What does “on track” look like?
A HC on track looks like this: Decisions are made collectively, all have equal opportunity to express, no man or woman is in charge of the gathering, the focus is on Jesus Christ, and all submit to the governance of the Holy Spirit.
After this is established, that someone (call him what you will) retreats. The HC is now the collective responsibility of the HC. The outcome of the HC will be as fruitful as their collective commitment to Christ, their submission to the Holy Spirit, and the quality and quantity of invested prayer.
(Understand that such a person – church-planter, apostle, whatever you choose to call him – is only needed if needed. And one church-planter may disagree with another as to the best arrangement and direction for a HC. The continuing quality of the HC could be determined by this man’s level of passion and faithfulness to Lord Jesus.)
Just how does a person establish such a HC?
A few simple rules, a little organization. The right amount of guidelines is the amount necessary; you don’t want more than necessary and you don’t want less. This will vary, one HC needing more framework than another. If a HC consists entirely of mature Spirit-led believers (this would be rare), very little organization is required.
You want to guard against the gathering becoming a conversation. Conversations can be exhilarating and beneficial, but a HC is to be more than that. You want to relay to each other messages from the Holy Spirit. You want the unfolding of the fivefold preaching ministries of Ephesians 4:11. Conversations (and “one another” prayer ministry, etcetera) can happen afterward, perhaps during or after a meal.
A pulpit (yes, a pulpit) could greatly enhance and protect a HC.
(See note.) A pulpit in a house church? Seems unlikely, out of place, unnecessary. And yet….
A pulpit, correctly governed and employed, can prevent the hc from sinking from a stimulating ten-string guitar into an aggravating (clink-clink-clink) one-string. Hunh? Let’s look at it….
In the evangelical church, he who controls the pulpit is the powerbroker. One excessively influencing many is quite unhealthy. But just suppose….
Just suppose there was an open pulpit accessible to all equally. Anarchy, you say? Well, let’s tweak that a bit….
Suppose there were a few rules determined by all that applied to all, such as a time limit for each person. Great idea, thou thinkest, but sounds a bit cumbersome for most evangelical services. Okay, good point, but what about….?
What about a pulpit in a hc gathering where numbers aren’t a complication? Think about it. A pulpit accessible to all, let’s say a group of ten. All ten have equal opportunity to express. No one speaks except from the pulpit. Yes, this will be awkward at first, but the advantages are numerous, like….
Like shared influence. Protection from ambitious controllers. No sibling rivalry for top status. Equal opportunity to use God-given gifts. Diversity of expression. Safety in numbers from faulty doctrines. And more….
Utilizing a pulpit would be excellent training for all ten. We learn by doing. Those jitters will eventually go. Who knows what doors of opportunity will open? And much more….
If the Holy Spirit, and not man, is the orchestrator, the orchestra being the ten, Christ will be magnified. Much fruit will come. Still not convinced? Consider the alternative, no pulpit….
A powerbroker will arise, undoubtedly a controller. The Holy Spirit will be less wanted. The other nine will eventually resemble the fellow in the evangelical pew, insignificant, stunted, bored. Instead of a stimulating ten-string guitar, the hc will sink to an aggravating (clink-clink-clink) one-string. Only guy that will be happy is…
The controller…. with his need to lead, itch to influence, hankering to be heard.
A pulpit can be anything handy – a small desk, a filing cabinet, a music stand, whatever. Limiting the time one is allowed to utilize the pulpit, be it five or ten or whatever minutes, prevents a takeover by a controller. Those prone to talk too much (a high percentage of christians?) will not have opportunity to be unduly influential. And more….
Have you noticed every highly effective communicator in christendom occupies a pulpit? Pulpit ministry improves with practice as one progresses from frightened to less frightened to bearable to comfortable. Who knows what great and influential preachers the HC with a pulpit might produce?
Note: This is taken from a series of articles, 333 WORDS…. Exactly (www.333words.org).