Saturday, May 14, 2011

What’s Wrong with Organic Church? Lack of networking with other house churches

[Part 5 in the series]

When I first started hosting a house church in our home, about five years ago now, I was desperate to connect with others who were doing the same thing we were. Mainly just so I wouldn’t feel all alone, and so I could learn from the mistakes of others without making them all on my own.

One of the first people I got in touch with was Ken Eastburn of The Well. We started out meeting at a local Carl’s Jr. and over time we developed a friendship that continues to this day. Ken’s story was not the same as mine. He was the pastor of a local Baptist church that transitioned into a series of house churches after selling their building. Still, Ken and I were able to encourage one another and inspire each other to continue on in our journey into New Testament church.

Out of the many ideas we bounced around together, one of them was to create a network of local house churches in the Orange County area. We both knew the value of getting connected with others who were hearing the same call on their life and sharing stories, ideas and resources with one another. From here we added other local house church leaders and advocates like Bill Faris and Michael Bischoff.

Of course, not every house church wants to connect with others in this movement. I’ve had some people over for dinner who were hosting house churches locally who had no interest in meeting others, or in connecting with other house churches. I’m not sure why this is, but I do know from experience that it’s so much better to have people you can reach out to for ideas, for encouragement, for prayer and for support as you walk down this organic church experience. Not only that, I think there’s a biblical precedence for this networking together of churches. In the New Testament there were no maverick groups. Every house gathering in a city was considered as one church family. Paul letters to the church in Corinth, the church in Galatia, the church in Ephesus, the church in Collosse. He did not write to individual groups, or to pastors. He wrote to everyone who was in that city or region as one church family. So, there’s one church in Orange County, made up of house churches, and traditional churches, of all denominations and practices. We are the church in Orange County, and the more we get to know and to love one another, and to work together to preach the gospel, to feed the poor, and to advance the Kingdom of God in Orange County, the better.

Now, with a house church the idea of finding everyone is difficult, as we’ve already discussed in this series. House Churches don’t have signs out front or ads in the paper. Some have blogs or websites, but not all of them do. Some are closed groups for example and the last thing they want is to attract newcomers. So, getting connected with other house church and simple church groups in your area can be a challenge. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!

One good place to start is over on Facebook. There are several great groups like one that I help to moderate called "Organic Church Movement", and several others.  You can list your house church group and also search for the groups that are nearest to you. If you’re in the SoCal area be sure to check out the site I set up called OCHouseChurch.com.

You don’t need to agree with everything the other groups practice. Ken and I are like night and day on most things, and both of us are different from Bill Faris and Mike Bischoff, but we still meet regularly for lunch, share ideas, encourage one another and even hose monthly “OC/Organic Church Forums” where people can come to meet with others in the local organic church movement, and to discuss important topics, share ideas, etc. In fact, this blog series I’m writing came directly out of last month’s OC/OC Forum with Paul and Lori Byerly.

I’d encourage you do all you can to connect with others in your area who may be leading or participating in house church. If you’re all alone in the desert, I’d suggest connecting online at Facebook or try Googling for "Organic" or "House Church" or "Simple Church" in your area.

The organic church is especially relational, so the more we stay in relationship with others the more we can learn and the more we can work together to have an impact on our community for Christ.

-kg

6 comments:

Matthew said...

Hey bro!
This is a great blog and needed message. I have enjoyed reading your stuff and exploring the OC House Church network website since I have moved here to SoCal. My wife and I moved from South Carolina to attend Fuller Seminary in Pasadena about 10 months ago. After much prayer and calling, we were led to start another house church with a couple we met here. We had been a part of an amazing house church in SC and just couldn't go back! So far in the LA area, we have not found many other organic churches with whom to partner. Every since I read "Houses that Change the World" when I was 18 I have been convinced of the need for real partnership and networking among house churches. Would you point me to anyone here in the LA area? Is there anyway our church could be involved with the OC network? I would love to talk more with you about it... like you said I am just craving to talk with likeminded people! We have about 15 people meeting now in Pasadena and we will probably multiply into two groups this fall. Looking forward to hearing from you bro!

Matthew Blanton

Unknown said...

MY SO AND HIS FAMILY HAVE A HOME CHURCH. THE ONLY MENBERS ARE MY SO, HIS WIFE AND FOUR CHILDREN. THY STUDT ONLY THE KING JAMES AND ON SATURDAY IS THEIR SABBATH THEY LIVE I CALIFORIA...IS IT BIBLICAL ,BECASUE OF ALL THE CHURCHES THAT EXIST SEEMS A STHOS IT IS THE LORDS MOVEMENT TO GO TO A CHUJRCH BLDG? SHOW ME SCRIPTURE PLEASE ,AM PRAYING ABOUT YOUR CHURCH...THANK YOU
PENNY

Keith Giles said...

Penny: Not knowing much more than you're telling me, I can only say that the King James version is fine, but so are the ESV, the NASB and the NIV versions. It doesn't matter if they study the KJV, but I do object to the attitude that it's the "only correct version". Mainly because it's not based on any scholarship of any kind. It's a claim based on spiritual pride and not much else.

I'm not sure I understand the second part of your comment/question regarding the building. Are you asking if there's a scripture about the New Testament church meeting in buildings? Or are you asking if the Church today should meet in a building or not?

If you can give me more details I'd be happy to respond.

Kirk Out said...

Nice blog! I think you would like mine too. Been relational housechurching and planting for 30 years now. My blog is about Jesus, church and life in general.
http://notesfromthebridge.worspress.com

Christopher "Captain" Kirk

Alejandra Martinez said...

Been feeling the urge to get closer to fellow Christians and also spread the Gospel to others. Thing is we don't feel a "Conventional" Church is the right way to do it. We are looking for an intimate family/friendship.

My Husband feels less pulled to Church and the word than I but said if we could just have People over for dinner and hang out while letting the study and conversation happen naturally he would love to do it. He doesn't want to be the leader as he feels he doesn't know enough about the word. (He has Dyslexia and has a hard time reading. So his confidence is lacking.) I personally like leading in a hosting a gathering sort of way. Like just keeping things organized but don't feel like there should be any real leading going on scripture wise as only the Holy spirit can really do that. Or maybe more like everyone can lead when called to do so. I guess o.O Sorry if that doesn't make sense.

How ever we have nothing like this around us, To sort of show us how to step into it. What would you recommend for us as a starting point?

His Father and Mother are new Pastures of a Spanish speaking Church and we used to attend a None denominational Church where we almost joined Leadership to start our own Art's Ministry but then seen some things that caused us to pull away.

Keith Giles said...

Alejandra: I would encourage you and your husband to prayerfully step out and start something and see where the Lord leads it. Don't try too hard to keep your hands on it or steer it. Just wait and see where the Lord directs you and follow Him.

If you need any help or anything I'm happy to do so.