Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Pitfalls of Organic Church (Part 6)

Rotate Locations Early and Often.

For the first 4 years of our house church life, our family hosted every meeting together. That’s twice a week for four years! Today we only host twice a month (on Sundays) and other families take turns hosting in their homes the other weekends.

The reason we decided to rotate our meetings wasn’t because we felt burnt out, however. Not at all. In fact, we really love hosting the house church in our home and it’s very convenient for the kids on our street to join us on those Sundays, which makes it extra special for us. So, why did we decide to rotate our Sunday morning meetings? Well, it all started with a trip to Alaska. At least, an imaginary one.

As I’ve already mentioned, our house church group has been quite large for some time now. Over the last few years I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that our group was too big and I really felt that there were plenty of mature people in our group who were more than capable of hosting and even leading a house church group in their own home. However, after a series of conversations and meetings with different people, what I learned was that none of those people saw themselves as ready, equipped or capable of doing this.

My epiphany came one evening when one of our brothers in the group asked everyone else this question: “If Keith and Wendy suddenly moved to Alaska next month, how many of you would even continue to meet together as a church every week?” To my surprise, and heartbreak, no one said that they would continue to meet together without our direct leadership in the group.

I think it was at this time that I recalled the words of wisdom shared by my friend Alan Knox who said that any church that cannot continue to function without the direct leadership of the leader isn’t a church under the headship of Christ. (Or something like that. I share this exact quote in my book, “This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended”).

So, right then and there Wendy and I knew that we had failed to make disciples of the people in our house church. We wanted them to understand that they were all following Jesus – not us - and that He had equipped all of them to be the Church, and to be practicing members of the priesthood of Christ. That’s when we started asking everyone in the group to step up and to start taking some of the responsibilities away from us and to start owning the group themselves. Sharing the weekly hosting duties was just one of the things we started to intentionally give away to the group. We also started not showing up to these meetings at all on occasion to underscore the reality that they could be the Church without any help from us at all.

The good news is that, about a year later, we asked some of these same people that question again about our mythical trip to Alaska and every one of them said that they would most definitely continue to meet with the house church family even if we were not there. I have to believe that hosting the house church meetings in different people’s homes, and allowing everyone to experience the meeting apart from us made a difference. People got to see that there was nothing especially holy about our den, or about us as leaders, and that they were all called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the Body of Christ no matter where they gathered or who was in the room – or not.



Keith McLachlan said...

Thank you for this encouraging input. I'm very new to the home/organic church. Implementing this practise has not been easy. However, our practise at the moment is the home in which we meet facilitates our gathering & this gives the opportunity for all to contribute in a significant manner. As an ex-minister I don't have or feel the pressure to 'run' the gathering & neither is it expected of me. Your series Keith, has been a great resource & of tremendous encouragement. Thank you

Marty Schoenleber said...

Great post Keith. I hope many find it. One of the biggest aspects of Jesus' own discipleship process was 1) giving real opportunity to minister publicly early on (see Luke 10) and 2) leaving for heaven.

Too often, we bottle-feed for a quarter century and never leave. No wonder we have such anemic disciples in our churches.

Anonymous said...

Excellent series, Keith. Thanks for putting in the time to write these posts! They're very practical and encouraging.