Friday, March 16, 2012

THE ORDINARY CHRISTIANS GUIDE TO CHURCH PLANTING: Step 1 Rethink Your Image Of Church

As we begin this journey of church planting together I can already hear the first excuse that many of you are throwing out on why you could never be a church planter.  The excuse goes something like this:

"I could never be a church planter because I have no training, ability or idea on how to lead or administrate such a complex organization like a church!"

And if that's your reason for not starting a church chances are you probably were raised in a church where there were lots of budgets, committees, business meetings, deacon and/or elder meetings, programs up the wazoo,  staff to manage, buildings to build and maintain and lots of conflict management with which to deal.  So if that's your idea of church you're probably right and you're  not qualified to start a church like that.  AND IF THE TRUTH BE TOLD VERY FEW PEOPLE WOULD BE QUALIFIED!  One would almost need a Masters in Business Administration to start and operate that kind of church.

But listen to me carefully for I am telling you the truth!  THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT DIDN'T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THAT! 

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH HAD A SIMPLE STRUCTURE THAT ANYONE COULD MANAGE

 In the New Testament the church was so simply structured that any Follower of Christ could start one.  While there are some character issues the Bible says need to be considered for the selection of a church elder the only leadership/management skill qualification is found in 1 Timothy 3:4,5.  It says,

"He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, 
how will he take care of the church of God?"

When it comes to LEADERSHIP ABILITY and the evaluation on whether a person is capable to start new church the only question needed to be asked is:

 "How well do they lead their family?"

If a person can lead their family well the Bible says they have the leadership skills necessary to start and lead a New Testament Church.  But how is that possible when the churches of North America are organized more like businesses and requires a person to have leadership skills far above that which is needed to run a household well?

The answer to that question is that we as North American Christians will need to change our conception of church from being some major corporation that requires a CEO to run it, to a church more closely akin to a FAMILY UNIT with spiritual parents guiding others to maturity.  We are going to need to move from a 21 Century image of the church to a 1st Century image of church.  

In other words we will need to develop a more 
Biblical image of what the church looks like! 

That's right I did say that!  "A More Biblical Image".  The church image that characterizes the North American landscape resembles very little to what the New Testament church looked like.  For starters the  Early Church for the first 300 years of its existence never owned any property and never had any buildings used exclusively for religious services.  The Apostle Paul in Acts 20:20 reminds the church in Ephesus that he did not shrink from declaring to them anything but taught them publicly and from house to house.  In the New Testament there was public teaching in large groups which usually happened at an outdoor public location or in a building that the apostle was able to use but its main use was something other than for Christian worship.  However, even with the use of large locations or facility the main teaching and instruction for the Christian faith took place in homes that met throughout the week in different locations.  An interesting note to consider is that once the church started experiencing persecution public teaching became less freqeuant and the small house church became even more prominant.  So let me share with you what  I believe is the best Biblical image of the church:

The New Testament Church was a group of 15 to 30  Christ Followers meeting in a home at least weekly but very possibly more often,  for worship, teaching, prayer and observing the Lord's Supper and then occasionally, when it was safe and as the need arose, gather in some public arena with other house churches for a larger expression of their faith.

A HOUSE CHURCH MEETING IN TUCSON, AZ

So now let me ask you!

  • Don't you think, as a Fully Devoted Follower of Christ, that you can gather 15 to 30 people in a home to help them grow in their faith, meet each others needs, pray for God to provide His  power, presence and provision, and worship Him? 
  • Don't you think that you can love and help spiritually grow 15 to 30 people?
  • If there were no budgets, no committees, no staff, no salaries but just you and another leader with a dozen people living out your faith together as the Family of God, don't you think that's something you could do?
CAN'T YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING THAT?


All over the world this is happening!  All over the world God is raising up, training up and unleashing ordinary christians, just like you, to start these rapidly reproducing house churches for His glory and to fulfill his mission.  This same kind of movement God is bringing to North America but it's time for the People of God to get prepared to plant these kinds of churches.

In the blogs that follow we will be discussing exactly how to gather a house full of people and actually takes place in a house church.  But for now just start by rethinking what the church looks like and the way God first developed.  

HERE'S YOUR HOMEWORK:   Read through the entire Book of Acts two to three times.  As you read take mental notes each time that the church is meeting in a house or how people along with their entire household comes to faith in a home.  READ IT BY VIEWING THE CHURCH AS A HOUSE CHURCH!

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