Friday, November 9, 2012

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

As we begin this journey of church planting together I can already hear the first excuses 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!"

If that is your reason for not starting a church chances are you probably were raised in a church where there was a budget, committees, business meetings, deacon and/or elder meetings, programs up the , wazoo staff to manage, buildings to build or maintain and lots of conflict management to deal with within the membership.  And if that is your idea of church you are probably right that you are not qualified to start that kind of church. 

But listen to me carefully, I tell you the truth and I have some really GOOD NEWS to give you!  THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT DIDN'T LOOK OR SOUND ANYTHING LIKE THAT!  The structure of the New Testament church was so simple that any Follower of Christ could start a new church body.  While there are some character issues that must be taken into consideration when selecting a person to be an Elder of the church the only leadership/management qualification is found in 1 Timothy 3:4,5:

"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 in evaluating whether a person can start a 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 then they have the leadership skills necessary to start a lead a church according to the Bible.  

However, if that is going to be practical in the 21st Century of North America we are going to have to change our image of what a church is to look like.  We will need to change your conception of church from being some major corporation that requires a CEO to run it, to a image of the church being more closely akin to a family unit that have spiritual parents guiding others to maturity.  We are going to need to move from a 21 Century image of the church to more of a 1st Century image of church.  

In other words we are going to need to develop a more Biblical image 
of what the church is to look like.   

That's right I did say, "A More Biblical Image".  The church image that characterizes the North American landscape resembles very little to what the New Testament church looked like and in many instances acted like.  For starters the church for the first 300 years of its existence never owned any property and never had any building 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 which usually happened in an outdoor public location or in a building that the apostle was able to congregate people together but its main use was other than for religious.  But the main teaching and instruction 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 house church became more common.  So let me share with you what the best Biblical image of the church looks like from my point of view:

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 and then occasionally when it was safe and as the need 
arose gather in some public area with other house churches for a 
larger expression of their faith.


So now let me ask you!  Don't you think, as a Fully Devoted Follower of Christ, that you can gather 15 to maybe 30 other people in a home to help them grow in their faith, meet each others needs, pray for God's to provide His  power, presence and provision, and worship God? Don't you think that you can love and help spiritually mature 15 to 30 people?  No budgets, no committees, no staff, no salaries.  Just you and possibly another leader with 15 to 30 people living out your faith together as the Family of God.  Can't you see yourself doing that?  I CAN AND I PRAY YOU WILL ALSO!

In the blogs that follow we will be discussing exactly how to gather those 15 to 30 people and what you actually do when the church meets in your home.  But for now just start rethinking what the church looks like.  

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 VIEWING THE CHURCH AS A HOUSE CHURCH!

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