Article # seven: An Alternative
Evangelical services are not authorized by New Testament writings. One exception (somewhat) comes to mind. It occurred about thirty years ago.
The assistant pastor announced the sunday evening services would be entirely different; it will be open to whosoever “just like the early church.” Those having something to contribute would be free to express themselves; the entire service was open to the congregation. Inadvertently, the assistant was admitting all other services were not in harmony with Scripture. And of course they were not, and thirty years later little has changed.
There is a superior alternative to the evangelical system, more aligned to New Testament writings: a house church.
A house church is an evangelical church minus, minus, minus. Minus all the stuff. Minus the collection plate. Minus the bulletin. Minus the pastor. Minus the board of whatever. Minus the hierarchy. Minus the building. Minus, minus, minus.
But a house church is only as good as the participants make it. Therefore you should not attach yourself to one just because one is available. Check it out.
What is missing in the evangelical system, in a word, is Jesus; He is not lord there. A home church whose theme is less than Jesus should be avoided; you want to make up for lost time, not lose more. Perhaps the Lord would have you start your own. However, a word of caution:
S o l o m o n : Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it. (Ps. 127:1)
It could be presumptuous to start a house church just because you see a need. It is a serious matter, a decision to be placed under the lordship of the Holy Spirit (which is placing it under the lordship of Jesus).
It’s easy to get into something, hard to get out. Starting a work is simple; terminating it can be hurtful to many. And between the getting in and getting out is much wasted energy and much frustration. You can think of instances in your life when you made decisions based solely on logic and you were stuck with the sad consequences for a long time. You will waste much time and energy building a “house” the Lord has not ordained.
On the other hand, if the Lord gives the green light you could be in for a Jesus-adventure. A beautiful song can be created, one that will glorify “the Lamb who was slain” and bring about His purposes.
Jesus taught the house (in this case the house church) built upon His sayings would not fall, regardless the ferocity of the storms pounding against it. Building upon His words does not mean all house churches are to be exactly the same; there is latitude. But God’s principles must be observed.
Important, very important, question: Can individuals gain more of Christ relationally by coming together rather than each remaining on his/her own?
A no answer considerably lessens the advantages of gathering. Fortunately the answer is yes, yes an individual can better grow in Christ with the help of others, and, in turn, cause the others to benefit. Two hungry hearts increase the hunger of each. As enthusiasm, hunger is contagious. Two hot coals burst into a flame; many coals are a fire hard to put out; two together more than doubles the heat of each.
M o s e s : How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight? (Deut. 32:30)
J E S U S : I say to you if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. (Mat. 18:19)
Imagine, just imagine, the outcome of each person’s christianity if each had the backing of the collective prayer power of the group.
Imagine the power in the meetings if all were determined to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, if all agreed to submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Imagine how a person would blossom and mature as a minister if he and she were given opportunity to articulate insights attained privately in “the secret place of the Most High,” and how everyone would be enriched.
Imagine how children would be affected in an atmosphere of enthusiasm toward Jesus, to see and hear dad and mom proclaim truths of Christ, and minister life to others.
Each should be afforded opportunity to be challenged and to challenge, to be inspired and to inspire, to be taught and to teach, to be led and to lead, to receive and to give. (Always under the direction of Pastor Holy Spirit.)
It must also be said as a warning, coming together can have the opposite effect, drawing each other away from intimacy with Christ. Perhaps it happens more often than not. The focus switches to something other than Jesus. For example, the group could obsess on the negative, spending most meetings consoling each other from wounds and bondages and injustices from evangelicalism, riveted on what is wrong instead of pursuing the right. The solution is not to switch from negative to positive, but to become Christ-focused once more.
The next series of articles is titled, So You Want To Start a House Church.
C h a l l e n g e : The challenge for a group is the same challenge for each individual: One, to become increasingly enamoured with Jesus. And two, to come under the governorship of the Holy Spirit (who will bring you into deeper intimacy with Jesus).
P r a y e r : Lord, cause us to acknowledge You in all our ways, that You would direct our paths. Cause us to be faithful, loyal, and trustworthy. And anoint this article. In Your name, Lord, in Your name. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)