Friday, July 10, 2009

Why I Will Not Attend A National House Church Conference

Even though I've been involved in the House Church movement, and have been hosting a church in my home for over three and a half years now, I have never attended any of the various National House Church conferences. Nor do I have any desire to do so.

Why?

Because they all deny the very things we say we hold most dear. They are celebrity-driven gatherings where we sit in rows and listen for hours as our own brand of "Special Clergy" dispense information while all of us sit quietly and listen.

What sort of House Church conference might I be interested in attending? Maybe one like this:

*Shared meals.
*Emphasis on gathering with other brothers and sisters who are also doing house church around the nation.
*Emphasis on the ministry of the Body to the Body by the Body (not trained professionals attempting to sell their newest books).
*Spontaneous worship times.
*Smaller, practical discussions on various subjects and relevant themes (i.e.- "How to handle Children", "What is Leadership?", "Serving our Community", etc.) lead by the Spirit of God (not one "expert" on the subject).

Anyone else interested?

Sure, we'd invite people who have written books and who speak on national conference circuits to join us, but we won't use their celebrity to drive ticket sales. These brothers and sisters will be treated as our equals, not as those with "special revelation" and they will be free to share along with the rest of the Body as we share together openly.

Better yet, we won't sell tickets. It will be free or "at-cost".

We could meet at a campground and invite whole families to participate (yes, even children).

Wouldn't it be amazing if our National House Church Conferences were actually modelled after the pattern we say we believe to be Biblical and born of God?

-kg

21 comments:

Faith said...

I know what you mean.

Sometimes the leaders of the alternative house church, new church, modern, new wave things are worse than the normal church leaders who think they are top dogs hip and trendy and where its at.
Why do so many church leaders fall into the trap of trying to be the latest trend, the coolest and the hippest..... human nature I suppose, to need affirmation and adulation - easy trap to fall into. Make lots of friends gets lots of cred, and opportunities....
Glad God has so allowed my life to skid along the bottom that there's no chance for me to fall into it!Well - I'm glad some of the time.
bless you

Like a Mustard Seed said...

I like the campground idea...

Seems like there is still a whole host of ideas and things to try, we just have to be willing to get a little creative, and not be so concerned about all the plush comforts (hotels? conference rooms?)

Why do an "organic church conference" in the same manner you would do a trade show, if you're serious about not doing church as though it were a business?

After all, if we're serious about picking up our cross and following Jesus, doesn't seem like it should be too much to expect people to be willing to forgo a few expensive luxuries....

Mike said...

Keith:

Great article. I am glad to see you are consistent in your ecclesiology. Most of the house church websites look no different than the "other" church websites. I am new to the movement as you know, but I already know the major players in it.

I am looking for something more organic, something closer to the NT model and I am still looking though there are some groups that are pretty close to those early followers of the Messiah.

I abhor the way men exalt themselves over and above one another. I know, I used to do that very thing. For years I was driven to obtain an education. Now that I have a literal alphabet soup behind my name at times I cannot bear to mention it in fear of alienating someone or giving a perception of superiority.

The house church movement is full of men, well intentioned sure, but sinful men just the same who are given to the same temptations as we all are.

I like your ideas, if it happens, let me know.

Peace.

Ordinary Guy said...

Boy Keith, you like to live on the edge there brother. Sad, but funny stuff.
I've got to hand it to you, I've noticed the same type of patterns in a number of folks that "do house church". I guess you can take a boy out of the institution but you can't take the instituion out of the boy (God has to do that).

sc said...

it is a bit arrogant to not keep learning from others. I think you might be missing the point of these conferences are to learn. Spiritual "haters?"

Shawn said...

Let's not get carried away. Paul and many other early church fathers certainly had special times that they spoke to a large, passive audience. It just wasn't "church". It is not without merit. It has a purpose. But in addition the ideas are very interesting and actually closer to what I thought u would find in the house church world when ibfirst started learning about it a couple of years ago.

Laura said...

I am not part of a house church, but I absolutely agree with you. It is sad to hear that those who, in theory, appear to understand essential ecclesiology, don't see the conflict.

Your conference idea sounds fabulous.

Michelle said...

This makes a lot of sense. I like how you thought it through, and I agree with you. God bless you in your ministry. I can tell it is very dear to your heart.

Keith Giles said...

Laura- Who said no one would be learning anything? If you've ever sat in a group where the Spirit leads and teaches you through the gifting, experience and humility of the Body itself then you know that there's no better teacher than Jesus Himself as He works through the whole Body to lead us and help us to grow. (see 1 Cor 12).

If anything, our potential for learning is exponentially magnified because now, instead of only hearing from one man, I can hear from everyone in the room as God prompts them and we can all benefit from what God has to say to each of us through His saints.

Shawn- I'd have to disagree that Paul ever sat and taught while others listened "passively" as you suggest. I think that's our assumption when we read certain passages, but the middle eastern/jewish method of teaching at that time was very conversational, it was not a monologue, it was a dialog.

I believe if you were to look into some historical texts regarding the culture of the day you'd see a different form of instruction taking place.

Over and over again Paul and Peter encourage the Body to follow their brothers and sisters in Christ as they followed Christ faithfully. A lot of the teaching was done by observation in the life of fellow believers. They were encouraged to model and imitate the humble, faithful life of faith in the elders and teachers among them.

Yes, there is time to sit and listen, but ultimately it is Christ who is our Teacher and Lord, not any one man or woman.

Michelle said...

I like how you think. I agree. God bless you are your ministry; you are obviously very passionate about it, and that is a beautiful thing.

Scott said...

Keith,

I haven't written in a while and while I appreciate your convictions on house ministry I still think you take the throwing the baby out with the bath water approach to further your cause.

Why can there not be room for both approaches to ministry? While I agree that a smaller conversational method is geared to help us understand things better, there are those who simply do not learn that way. As for Paul and other early church leaders not teaching this way, we forget that Jesus taught this way. When on the mountainside preaching to thousands of people or pushing the boat out a little on the water so he could speak to the large gatherings. This approach is one that is useful. Please consider how dogmatic you come across when you go out on such a limb.

I really do appreciate your thoughts and I am convinced that your motives are pure and honorable. I just wish you could see your way to see that some of us that do not embrace your ideology have the same motives and have a measure of success in building the kingdom as well.

Peace
Scott

Keith Giles said...

Scott,

I appreciate your insight, my friend. I certainly hope I don't come across like I've got all the answers and everyone must agree with me or it's not possible that I could be wrong, etc.

You make a good point about the way that Jesus taught, but most of Jesus' teaching opportunities are in house meetings, at weddings, at parties, in someone's living room, along the path towards the next town, in the marketplace, at the Temple court, etc.

Actually, the main method Jesus uses to teach (as far as I can see) is the use of parables. Jesus told stories to teach about the Kingdom. These were methods that engaged the listener and very often Jesus allowed questions to go unsanswered or he answered them with a question of his own, or he told the parable and left it unexplained.

So, Jesus isn't really known for his sermons. There's only one Sermon on the Mount, but there are dozens of parables.

If that form of teaching were more prevalent in the Body I'd be thrilled. Heck, I'd be thrilled if I could teach like that more often.

My point in this article (and maybe it would be helpful to skim over it one more time to get an idea of what I'm saying and why I'm saying it), is this: The House Church movement is established on a few basic principles found in the New Testament. These are things modelled by the Apostles and practiced by the early church. I'm pointing out that, for a House Church Movement to host a conference that denies these things is a little inconsistent.

I'm not saying that there's never room for a 45 minute sermon to encourage the Body. Go check, I never said that. But what I am trying to communicate is that, maybe, the House Church Movement would be better served to present a more consistent set of values to the World, and to the rest of the Body, by the way that we gather...no matter how many are in attendance.

Just to elaborate a bit more...I'm someone who has designed and promoted and run conferences of all sizes and types over the last seven or eight years now. I understand better than most how much planning, time, money, and resource goes into pulling one off.

I think we have to start with asking: What is the goal of this Conference? What is it we hope to accomplish?

If we begin there then I would suggest that our House Church Conferences could answer those questions in much more creative and way that (at the same time) illustrates more accurately who we are and the benefits of why we gather the way we do.

That's all.

Love the feedback and much appreciate the peaceful interaction over these issues.

Thanks for the open and honest dialog.

Peace,
Keith

Laura said...

Keith,

You ask, "Who said no one would be learning anything?"

I'm not certain where I said this. Please explain.

My comment referred specifically to those who participate in house church, but hold conferences that more closely resemble institutional church.

Keith Giles said...

Laura,

Oops. Sorry. I think I got you confused with "SC" who commented near you in the string above.

My bad.

kg

Laura said...

Keith,

No worries.

btw, I'm serious about the conference style you mentioned. I'm part of a group, currently inside an institutional church (where we feel called to stay) and possibly becoming an organically-developing inter-congregational gathering (the description should signal that we're in a good deal of flux). I'm quite interested in learning how house church might inform our group; given the nature of church, reading about how the Spirit leads is rather insufficient. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to further conversation here.

Keith Giles said...

Laura,

Shoot me an email and we can share info and ideas directly.

My email address is
elysiansky (at) hotmail.com

BTW, where do you live? Are you in Orange County or Southern Cal?

tommyab said...

humans being want legitimacy
we want to be part of something
we always want to organize and structure things up

we don't want the scandal of the cross

we don't want the unvisibility of Christ work

we don't want to be the ones Paul describes when he talks about his work in 1 and 2 Corinthians (poor, persecuted, nothing...)

we like efficiency

we believe that as efficiency is doing what God wants, it is automatically God's will

"why keep it simple, unvisible and little when can demonstrate our viewpoint dramatically more efficiently by doing things big and official and trendy"

we wanna be something...



by the way SC is totally typical. he can't be more typical of an institutionnal and constantinian christian

everything is equal and good in the constantinian viewpoint, or everything is bad except my viewpoint... there is so many denomination in institutionnal christianity... either you become stupidly all-inclusive (there is something good in all viewpoint) or you become stupidly exclusive (our group is gonna protect the truth... and every group protect their "truth"...)

the only truth is Christ
the only unity is Christ

stew said...

check out the Idea Camp:

http://theideacamp.ning.com/

sounds alot like what you described... an UnConference.

i would encourage you to run with your idea... it's good and people could benefit from it

Jonathan said...

Keith I am getting ready to go to the House2House Conference in Dallas, TX and noticed that many of their breakout sessions are going to be dealing with many of the bullet points you listed in your blog post. I also see that some of their speakers are the same people that you have linked to on your blog and have even had as guest bloggers in the past. I don't see this conference as a place for "leaders" to go to try to sell their books, but a place for everyone who has been hearing from the Holy Spirit in regards to "house church", "simple church", "organic church", etc. from around the nation to get together, network and listen to the Holy Spirit together.

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm a little later on the comment. What place do the educated have in house/home church movement alongside the others? And, would you consider their education an asset?

Keith Giles said...

If by "educated" you mean seminary, then my personal opinion is that it has its place, but it doesn't eclipse the spiritual gifts at work in the Body of believers.

In my own personal experience, those who are seminary trained can provide insight into scriptures that others might not have, but this same expertise can sometimes become a distraction for the rest of the members of the Body who might feel that their gifts don't count as much as those who are "ordained" or "trained", etc.

That being said, there's nothing wrong per se about studying the scriptures, as long as we don't allow that to trump the ministry of the Spirit in the Body itself.