One of my favorite memories from the early days of our house church was when we asked the children to lead our meeting. We told them in advance so they’d have time to prepare for this special day. We all anticipated this special morning together for several weeks, and then finally the day arrived.
I’ll never forget, after our usual breakfast and fellowship time, we all moved into the den for our share time. The kids all sat together and we waited to see what they would do.
Then one of them said, "Ok, does anyone have something to share with the group today?"
At first it threw us off a little, and then someone laughed out loud at the irony of it all as we realized what was happening: We had modelled the open meeting so well that their “leadership” of our meeting looked exactly the same! It wasn’t about who was leading. It was only about Jesus and what He was doing in our Body that morning.
As I sit down to write my installment of the “Why Churches Don’t Need Senior Pastors” blog series, I can’t help but recall that special morning when the kids taught us an important lesson – and it was the same lesson we had already taught them – Jesus is our only Head.
Some have suggested – even within the House Church Movement – that human leaders (spiritual parents, elders, pastors, etc.) are necessary for a “healthy” organic church to flourish. I don’t disagree in theory – but in practice I think it matters a whole lot what those “leaders” do or do not do, if we are going to truly experience the Headship of Christ in our midst.
Leadership is a spiritual gift. It’s right there in the New Testament alongside tongues, healing, miracles, teaching, etc. No doubt about that. And, yes, God does provide some who serve as “Pastors” (plural) in the Church.
But what a leader does – or does not – do in the gathering and among the members of the Body makes all the difference in the world.
Some things a leader, pastor, elder might do in the gathering are:
*Gently nudge the talkers to wait for the shy ones
*Gently nudge the shy ones to share what God has place on their hearts
*Initiate prayer for someone who is obviously in need or hurting
*Prayerfully remind the church family why we are here
*Point everyone back to Jesus
Here are some things a leader, pastor, elder should not do in the gathering:
*Tell people what to do
*Dominate the conversation
*Establish the order of service
*Get in the way of the Holy Spirit
*Attempt to create an environment that caters to their own personal bias
If I had to write a hundred page book about how to lead an open meeting in an Organic Church, it would contain 99 pages of “Things Not To Do” and only about a page of what you should be doing.
Why? Because the more we do, the less room we allow for Jesus to move and work in our midst.
But this blog series is all about answering the question: “Who Makes Decisions In An Organic Church?”, especially if there are no “Senior Pastors” around who can just tell us what to do.
Here’s the short answer: “Ask Jesus”.
The longer answer would contain a few suggestions about how to facilitate that in the gathering, but essentially you, as a church family, would take the time to pray together and wait on the Lord and see where and how He is leading you to act or move.
It would be faster to simply elect someone to make all those decisions for you. Obviously. But do you want expedience and efficiency, or do you want accuracy and obedience to Christ?
If your desire is to hear from the Lord, and if your church family really wants to experience Christ at the Head of the Body, then together as a Body you need to stop and listen to the Head, who is Christ. It’s really that simple.
There’s an African proverb that says: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.”
I would urge you, as a brother in Christ, not to go quickly, but to go together and to seek the Lord as a Church Family.
Does it work? Yes! It does work. It has worked several times in our own house church family, and it has worked spectacularly for others as well.
For example, one young couple who we know started an organic church recently after visiting with us only a few times. After their group had been together a few months, someone donated a large sum of money to them. Seeing as Organic Churches don’t need money to operate, they were unsure of what to do with the money. So, they came together and prayed and asked Jesus what they should do. Here’s what happened next:
The more your organic church practices this sort of thing, the more common and “normal” it will become. But it will only work if everyone in the church family works together to submit to the Holy Spirit, and to one another, to arrive at the answer that the Lord desires for you.
Who makes decisions in an Organic Church? Jesus does! He’s the Head. He’s the Senior Pastor. The rest of us are all brothers and sisters – and members of His Body – who submit to Christ as Lord, both in our personal lives, and in our corporate times together as a Family.
Once you hand all of this over to an expert or a Senior Pastor, it’s the last corporate decision your Church will ever make together.
Do you want to go far? Go together. Just make sure you’re all following Jesus.
NOTE: This blog is part of an ongoing series. Read the two previous posts by Jon Zens and Richard Jacobson HERE.