Article # six: A Few Etceteras
The following suggestions are simply that…. suggestions. They are not musts, just practical recommendations deserving prayerful consideration (i.e., to be placed under the lordship of the Holy Spirit). So here we go….
Hold your meeting sunday mornings. (You may have more than one per week.)
The Bible allows us to consider a day of the week special if we so desire (Rom. 14:5,6), and most christians have opted sunday as their special day. Sundays are usually the most convenient time to gather, and mornings are the freshest part of the day. So why not sunday mornings?
Do not cater to those who attach themselves to the evangelical system by choosing a time convenient to them. You are creating an alternative, not a supplement. Establishing sunday morning meetings is drawing a line in the sand. Jesus likes lines in the sand. (“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Josh. 24:15)
Do not follow someone’s program, study manual, or how-to book. The Father wants His children to ‘grow up’ and not always rely on the revelations of others. Jesus has something unique for your group. He wants to teach/admonish/guide/encourage the gathering through the gathering. Giving yourselves over to a program, except by His decree, could be removing yourself from His governorship. Your loss will be huge.
Be very hesitant to enter into an association with other groups. Don’t join the “National Association of House Churches” (just kidding, no such thing…. is there?) or anything similar. Do not let your security come from being attached to something grand. You don’t need a spiritual ‘umbrella’; you already have the best – Jesus. Don’t come under others, don’t rule over others, don’t rule each other.
Your house church is not playing house. It’s the real thing, requiring maturity and determination. And protection! – protection from controllers itching to keep you ‘safe’, to be your ‘spiritual covering’, to swell their ranks. (To many, big is good and small is shameful. Not so.)
Give time for each in the group to minister to the group. All have at least one of the Ephesians 4:11 gifts “for the equipping of the saints” and “for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Please read Evangelicalism Examined, in the series, Leave or Stay? and chapter three of The Way It Is.) How can the saints exercise their gift unless given sufficient time? This is certainly not suggesting taking turns, nor equal time for all – the Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way. Submit this matter unto the Lord Jesus Christ, “the head of the (your?) church.”
Don’t see others as they now are, or as they perceive themselves to be, but what they can become. See their enormous potential. Expectations are vacuums to be filled – if your expectations for your colleagues are lofty chances are they will fulfill those expectations; paltry expectations are an impediment.
In your midst is a powerful spiritual army in the making. Chances are there is an effectual evangelist and an anointed prophet and an apostle with a calling to establish other churches and a gifted teacher and a few pastors with shepherd hearts. Let them preach!
Do not build. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Do not make plans. Do not get dreamy. Your goal is not to gain numbers but to gain Him. That’s it. Believe Jesus when He tells you that branches abiding in Him will bear fruit. How that occurs – He may use you as a team or use you individually – that is His concern, not yours.
Have a rotating coordinator. A coordinator is the voice of the group, responsible for carrying out the decisions of the group previously reached by consensus. The coordinator oversees the meetings in a manner that ensures the conveyance of the Holy Spirit.
It is wise to rotate the coordinator, the reason more obvious after reading the next article.
Have a start time but not a stop time. The meeting is over when the Holy Spirit is finished, not before. Amen? It may be over for one and not another. Because one or a few must leave is no reason to end the meeting.
Have food and fellowship time. Food fills the tummy and opens the heart. Meal time is bonding time. Buffet? Barbecue?
Looks like the “Few Etceteras” has become quite a list. Reminds me of a joke: Question: What does it mean when the preacher says, “I’m coming to the end”? Answer: Nothing.
I’ve saved the most important of the “Few Etceteras” for last:
Utilize a pulpit. Yes, such an idea sounds churchy, but a pulpit has advantages. A pulpit will stop cross-talking (more than one speaking, less than everyone listening). Everyone will be attentive to the one behind the pulpit, less apt to interject. The person speaking knows she has an opportunity to make a contribution without interruption, and will have the attentiveness of the group. And it’s really good training to learn to speak formally to a gathering. This pulpit ministry could whet the appetite for more opportunities outside the group. Your house church will be a training college.
Of course the pulpit must be an open pulpit, open to whosoever. No person has more access than another. All must learn to go to the pulpit only by the leading of the Spirit.
And there is a much more critical reason to use a pulpit. It could save your fellowship from a takeover. A takeover? Yes, takeover, the subject of the next article.
C h a l l e n g e : A house church gathering is more than a Bible study and more than a prayer meeting. Much more. It is a gathering of the redeemed unto their redeemer, the Lord Jesus. It is a place to attain more of Him, to decrease, to be healed, to be changed. Your church is an opportunity to bless and be blessed, to challenge and be challenged. The outcome of your life and that of your friends will, in part, be relative to your hunger for more of Christ, and your determination to keep the group focused on Him.
P r a y e r : Teach our souls, Father, our need for the Holy Spirit. Teach us that no gathering will be successful without Him. And Father, kindly anoint this article. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)