Thursday, October 27, 2005


Soul Survivor started in England as a simple youth conference back in 1993 and has since grown into a global youth movement of worship and servant evangelism. Today, an estimated 225,000 young people have attended Soul Survivor events in the UK, South Africa, Holland, Norway, Australia, Canada and the United States of America.
Early on in the movement, there was a theological message that worship and care for the poor were Biblically inseparable ideas. Soul Survivor began to be every bit as much about creating humanitarian agents of change as it was about providing a great worship experience.

Soul Survivor USA began after Paul Martin visited a Soul Survivor UK festival in the summer of 1998, while on a work placement in London. Martin and his wife, Erica, originally had no intention of starting any new movements in America. At the time, Martin was in England as the President of Vineyard Music Group, UK, but this job had a built-in expiration date. “One of my job descriptions was to hire and train my successor because I was only allowed a two year work contract,” says Martin.

After attending that Soul Survivor event, Martin and his wife new that God was calling them to start something just like it in Southern California.
Challenged by the reality and authenticity of what they saw, Paul and Erica Martin returned to America to launch the first US Soul Survivor youth event.
However, the Martins discovered very quickly that getting a ministry like this started would be a greater challenge than they first realized. “There are twenty million people here in Southern California alone,” says Martin. “This is a country of it’s own almost. Soul Survivor Holland, (is trying to reach) a total population of three or four million, and we’re looking at twenty million in Orange County.”

Beyond the sheer size of the potential missions field in front of them, Martin and his wife also faced a cultural barrier. Using the tried and true UK format for Soul Survivor didn’t attract thousands of youth. Instead they started attracting people in their thirties.

To make things work, Martin had to make some hard decisions. The biggest change meant catering to the American Christian Summer Camp model. “One of the things I loved about the UK event was that it didn’t smell like a Summer Camp,” says Martin. “We’ve had to adapt to the American church culture where Summer Camp has been part of the youth culture for decades. It’s just what it means to be in a church as member of a youth group. You go to Summer Camp in the summertime. Everything in me resists the Summer Camp line, (but) it’s the language the churches speak and that’s what they respond to. Call it a festival and people will bring their worship team, call it Summer Camp and they’ll ask you how much and where is it”?

In July of 2002 Soul Survivor USA completely switched their approach to reaching youth in America. “We said, ‘If you’re over 17 you cannot come to a Soul Survivor event,’” says Martin. “We said to seven hundred people you can’t come anymore, which was very painful, but we doubled the High School number.”

With a new focus on reaching teens, Soul Survivor events in America have since drawn thousands of people from a broad range of denominations, and over 18 states.

A typical Soul Survivor event involves worship, ministry time, arts and music, but the sum is greater than its parts. “After the main session (involving worship and teaching), these various venues open up. From 8:30 pm to midnight, there are bands, they have dance and hip-hop venues and the art tent, and it’s a scene,” says Martin. “People don’t have to go to anything, it’s not required, but because they don’t have to go to anything, they go to everything, you know?”

The response to the arts tent at Soul Survivor events has been one of the most staggering. “It’s as if they are dying for water,” says Martin. “The kids can come in and paint as much as they want. Some of the stuff is scary, some of it’s not really religious art, and most of these kids have not really painted since they were in kindergarten,” he says, “It’s another value to incorporate the arts into our Christianity, it’s again, an holistic approach.”

Soul Survivor is a ministry that does more than provide a place for youth to gather and worship and hang out. They’ve organized large-scale servant evangelism events worldwide to demonstrate the compassion of Christ to a world that’s never seen Him. “The idea is to very simply not just preach service to the poor, we’re going to model what it looks like so the Youth pastors and the kids can get a vision for it,” says Martin. “It’s one thing to say, ‘we need to go pick up trash and paint an orphanage’, it’s another thing to get in the car and go paint. It’s more important what we do than what we believe or say,” he says. “We work alongside the city managers and we kept our mouths shut, no witnessing, just service, and it is amazing.”

What Martin has discovered as he leads these types of community service events is that young Christians in America are eager to serve. “Young people are the most open to this. The clay is still wet. It represents something in the youth culture today where they’re tired of hearing stuff they just want to get out and do it,” says Martin.

Martin has even greater dreams of touching Orange County with the tangible compassion of Christ one day. “I really see the injustices that have been done in South Los Angeles burning in my heart. I think that community has suffered a lot. There’s just something in me, to have ten or twenty thousand middle class kids coming into communities like that expressing their faith and their love for humanity in practical ways,” he says, “That is something that can keep me up at night. (My goal is) to create Christians who just have a deep understanding of the true totality of the Gospel,” he says. “We’re trying to slowly model the idea that worship and justice are very normative notions that need to be part of our daily walk.”

Martin explains some of the appeal for what Soul Survivor does as being directly related to their entire approach to the Christian life. “There’s something broader than this,” says Martin. “So by what we’re doing, in this holistic approach to life, a lot of these teens are seeing a something new. It’s like, ‘What? I get to go paint and skate and express my feelings and dance and this is all inclusive in what it means to follow Christ?’ So, in all that, our hope is that these youth pastors who bring their kids to Soul Survivor can go back to their churches and maybe find other ways to relate to their teens, as opposed to some of the ways that have been handed down before, based on laws and rules.

“As long as the churches are saying that what we’re doing is a good thing, and that their kids lives are being impacted,” says Martin. “Then our goal is just to keep going.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

IN CONTROL by Keith Giles


By Keith Giles

Relax. Everything is under control.

Your employer only has enough money to pay you one more month. Your family has to pack up everything and move out this weekend and you have no idea where you’re going to move into. Maybe you’ll have to rent a storage unit, move everything inside for a few months, and sleep on a few floors.

Everything is under control.

Of course, it’s not under MY control. I can barely see over the top of the steering wheel right now. I’m on my knees in the back seat of this car, praying that we make it to where we’re headed in one piece.

The last five months of my life have been some of the most stressful and challenging you could possibly imagine. Even more challenging than the year and a half I spent among the ranks of the unemployed, sustained only by the hand of God and the generosity of others, learning firsthand what ‘Daily Bread’ is really all about. Yes, even more stressful than the day I had almost $2,000 in bills to pay with no fulltime job, and less than one hundred dollars in the bank.

Over these last five months, my wife and I have suffered a miscarriage, gone three months with only half our normal income, endured week after week of uncertainty about where we would live and who I would work for, and now we face the countdown to homelessness.

Everything is under control.

About two years ago I began this journey. I suddenly realized that the Gospel I grew up on wasn’t really the Gospel that Jesus preached at all. It rocked my world. It turned everything upside down.

Following my little epiphany came the realization that I had spent most of my teenage and adult life following Jesus without taking up my cross.

I learned that it’s easier for us to die for Jesus than it is to live every single monotonous day for Jesus.

After this I began to dig into the idea of discipleship, or “follower-ship”, to Jesus. I began to seek first The Kingdom of God and to apprentice myself daily to Jesus as my Lord, and not just my Savior.

Just the other day it dawned on me what the last five months have been about. It’s simply the fruit of my desire to die to myself, to put Jesus first and to carry my cross (the instrument of my personal death to the flesh). Nothing more, nothing less.

So, now my life is out of my control. I have no say in where my finances come from. I have no clue where my family will live next. I have no idea where, or if, I’ll be employed in the next three months.

This is part of what I signed up for.

Of course, just because I don’t know the answers to these questions doesn’t mean that it won’t all work out for us. It just means that I’m not the one in control. God is.

The real question for me is, “Am I ok with that”? Am I ok with not being consulted when it comes to where we live, where I work, how much money we make, or even where we go to church? Because if turning my life over to Jesus is really what I’m all about, then not being the one in control of my life is a major byproduct of that decision.

I have to walk into the darkness ahead of me, leading my family along behind me, with no idea whether or not or next step will be into the abyss or into a blessing.

Everything is under control.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


So, as we move forward in our plans to start a House Church here in the O.C., here's a "work-in-progress":


OUR VISION: To be a community that models the life and love of Jesus to our world and to one another.

OUR MISSION: We are a community in love with Jesus. We are the Church. We have a mission to be Jesus to our friends, neighbors and our world.

WHO WE ARE: We are an outward focused Christian community with an inward commitment to love and disciple others to Jesus’ way of life.

WHAT WE DO: We worship God with our entire life. In homes, on the street, at work, in the marketplace, wherever we are there is worship. We are Christ’s ambassadors. We are compelled by the life and love of Jesus to share all that God has given us with those who need Him.

We value the Word of God, therefore we will read it, study it, talk about it, meditate on it and, by the Grace of God, we will put the Word of God into practice every day of our lives.

We value the Gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus came and died to proclaim, therefore we will proclaim the message of God’s Kingdom as “here, and not yet”, and live our lives in obedience to His commands, as citizens of His Kingdom and servants of the King..

We value people, therefore we will gather together to eat, fellowship, sing and pray for each other. We will invite people into our homes. We will make people feel welcome. We will listen to others. We will embrace their pain. We will make their burdens our own. We will see their need and share whatever God has given us to share. We will laugh. We will rejoice. We will celebrate together.

We value service, therefore we will make ourselves available to those who are in need. We will invest our time and talent and energy into the work of the Kingdom of God, serving others as Jesus did, expecting nothing in return.

We value giving, therefore we will demonstrate our dependence on God for all things by freely sharing what God has given us with others. We will give to God the tithe that belongs to Him, considering it as “sacred revenue”, set aside only for those who are in need and we will keep none of this for ourselves. Beyond this, we will share the rest of what we have been given as He directs us.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


As I've been researching the House Church model, I've discovered two more great reasons why I prefer the House Church way of "being church":

1- EVANGELISM: If a mega-church of 1,000 or more people were converted into 56 churches of 51 people each, they would reach 1,670 people for Christ every 5 years, easily doubling their own number.

If that same church of 1,000 plus members stays a mega-church, they’ll only reach 122 people in the same 5 year timespan.

Another way of looking at this is that the mega-church is actually preventing 1,548 people from coming to Christ every 5 years.
*(Taken from the book "Natural Church Growth" by Christian Schwarz)

2-FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: The House Church model literally makes money because they produce more than they consume, by design. The modern, traditional church model cost enormous sums of money to establish and even more to maintain and propagate.


Has the modern church become a “Wedding-A-Week” event?

Think of what it takes to pull off a wedding. You need an event planner just to make sure everything comes together logistically and that the ceremony is successful. Someone has to take care of the flowers, the food, the cake, the dresses, the tuxedos, the gifts, the parking, the DJ, the lights, the video, etc., etc. It’s a very big deal and no one in their right mind would attempt to put on a wedding every weekend…or would they?

Think of what goes into a typical Sunday morning worship service. Someone has to put together the bulletin, the order of service, the flowers, the coffee, the visitors table, the information booths, and clean the building before and after the service. The band, or the choir, has to be practiced, prepared and ready for the performance. The announcements have to be loaded on the power point slides in advance. Someone has to make sure that the ushers are ready, that visitors are welcomed, and that the Sunday School and child-care workers and rooms are all set up and staffed.

We haven’t even mentioned the pastor and his sermon yet.

Most Sunday morning worship services are a big production.

Is that what the early church went through?

Not even close.

The early church met in homes. They read scripture. They prayed for each other. They sang hymns spontaneously and they shared a common meal among their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Here’s another thing I find interesting about weddings. Do you think that community happens during a wedding? Not really…but why not? Isn’t a wedding a gathering of two families and all their friends into a single place? They’re even in a church building. So, why don’t we have community at weddings?

Before I answer that, let’s take that same family and look at what happens when they get together for Thanksgiving or a family reunion. Do you think community happens during these gatherings? Probably so…but again, why is that? It’s the same family isn’t it? What’s the difference?

The main differences are that, in the home setting of Thanksgiving dinner, no one is acting as an event planner. No one worries if the kids play outside before or after the meal, or if Grandma wants to tell her fond stories about the old days before desert or after they say “Grace”. The gathering is spontaneous. It’s about being the family, not acting out roles.

Something happens when you take that same family and place them in an event or a performance. They loose the environment necessary to facilitate community.

It’s almost funny to me to hear pastors and Christian leaders go on and on about how they wish their churches could develop community. We all wonder why talking about it and reading books about it and having potlucks don’t solve this problem.

We ask ourselves, “Why can’t we have a sense of community the way the early church experienced?”

The answer? “Because we’re not living the way those early Christians lived. We’re not meeting in homes they way they did. We’re not sharing all that God has given us with our neighbors and our fellow Believers. That’s why we don’t experience the same sense of community.”

One family gathering is large, and focused on following an event schedule. They other gathering, of the same family, is smaller and less formal, focused on being the family and enjoying a shared meal in a home.

Which of these is most like the early church?

Which is most likely to provide the atmosphere necessary to inspire community?

The early church was a divinely inspired system designed to create community, facilitate discipleship, mentoring and exponential multiplication, and we should be grateful that it was successful or else none of us would be here now.

For 300 years the church that Jesus inspired and that the Apostles crafted withstood persecution, created disciples, evangelized the lost, penetrated the culture and “turned the world upside down”.

I for one feel that it’s time for the people of God to return to this system of being the church and embodying the message of the Gospel, rather than bringing people to a building where they can hear a message.

By Keith Giles

Greater Things? by Keith Giles

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the father".
-John 14:12 I read this, Jesus first says, (paraphrased)- "If you believe in me, you will DO what I have been doing." (This has nothing to do with miracles. It has to do with obedience to Jesus and discipleship/apprenticeship to evidenced in the verses just below this one where Jesus says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command.")

The next sentence says, (paraphrased)- "The one who is my disciple (following me in doing the works of compassion I have done) will do even greater things BECAUSE I AM GOING TO THE FATHER." (And because Jesus is going to the Father, He is sending us the Holy Spirit to live in us, teach us, speak to us and do the work of the Kingdom - see verse 16).

Here's a parallel concept to make it clear....A professional Indy 500 Race Car driver tells you, "If you do what I teach you, and learn what I have to show you, you'll be a better race car driver than I am one day."

You wouldn't expect to just jump in the Indy Car and qualify for the race would you? No, you'd spend the next few years learning from this guy about how to be the best race car driver you could possibly be. It wouldn't happen by "magic" or by "osmosis" but because you "had faith in" this driver and you actually did everything he told you to do.

That's my perspective on what Jesus means in this verse.

We don't magically become better than Jesus by some mystical transfer of Holy power.

Ask yourself this..."Would you expect to do even greater works than Jesus if you never even attempted to do the basic things that he did while he was here on Earth?" That's like someone who doesn't even have a learner's permit or a driver's license thinking they can grab the keys to that Indy Car and take off as a winning driver.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A PSALM OF FAITH (or the lack thereof)

A PSALM OF FAITH (or the lack thereof)
by Keith Giles

God, have I come to the end of your provision?

Have I found the limits of your Grace?

Is there no more of your mercy left for me or my family?

Will you allow us to plunge off the cliff and into the valley of despair below us?

My confession is that I am weak. I confess to you my lack of faith.

I’m all out of hope. My last drop of strength is gone.

Please, Father, Abba, Daddy….

Do you see us? Do you hear me?

Are your eyes closed to the suffering we’re going through now?

When will my sons see the wonderful miracles of God?

When will my family be swept up into your arms of rescue?

When will you show up, God?

You are all we have left.

And if we slip off the edge and into the deep, what then?

And if we box up our lives and find nowhere to lay our heads?

And if we become the poor we have longed to serve?

What then?

We will still sing of your goodness, God.

We will still testify of your amazing love.

We will redefine what it means to trust you, and to walk with you, and to put our hope in you.

If we have come to this place by your own hand, Father, then into your hands we commit our spirits, and by your hands we will emerge as you desire us to live.

Again, you bring us back to this place of uncertainty.

Again, you ask us to lay everything on the altar.

Again, we place our hope on you, and you alone.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

AMAZING GRACE by Keith Giles

AMAZING GRACE by Keith Giles

God has done an amazing work in my heart and life over these last three years.

Before we had even begun an official Compassion Ministry at The River, my wife Wendy discovered that we were near a home for Seniors called Tustin Hacienda and found a way to get us scheduled to visit the residents there once per month.

At first this was something that we invited our Kids Rock kids to join us in. We wanted to provide a tangible opportunity for our kids to “be Jesus” to those in our community who were lonely, poor and alone.

Those first few months were awkward. We had no worship leaders on the team and so the kids would stand in the main room and sing worship songs accapella. We’d get odd looks from the people there who didn’t know the songs we were singing, and they clapped mostly out of a kindness of heart, probably not too sure what to make of us.

We went from room to room knocking on doors to step in and sing these songs to total strangers. Some of them smiled, some of them didn’t even turn down their very loud television sets as we attempted to sing or pray for them. Others were thrilled to have visitors, especially children.

I must confess that, at first, I wasn’t personally so excited about this ministry. There were times when any excuse for me to stay home was preferable to me. I didn’t really feel a strong connection to these people or see the value in what we were doing, other than to help those kids get a taste of what ministry could be.

It honestly didn’t begin to seep into my heart until the end of the second year of our ministry there. As we got to know the people at the Hacienda more intimately I became emotionally connected to them. I got to know “The General”, a wonderful man who had served in World War II and was wheel-chair bound. I can remember praying with him and seeing the tears in his eyes when he told me that, if were able to, he’d gladly re-enlist to defend our country. When I thanked him for what he’d already done he squeezed my hand tighter. Even though he couldn’t form the words to speak to me, the emotion in his face was enough for both of us to understand each other.

When he died it was as if my own Grandfather had died. I wept for him. I got to share in the grief of those who knew him best. We all missed him. He had been part of our family at Tustin Hacienda.

Over time we got to know the stories of people like Alvin who had been General George Patton’s cook during WW2. He even received a medal for his bravery under fire and for serving up meals that were better than they got at home, all while being shelled and shot at. He looks just like Santa Claus and even spent many Christmas seasons holding children on his knees at South Coast Plaza, a local mall, posing for pictures and making kids smile. Maybe some of us put our own children on his lap without even realizing it. I wonder.

We learned about Anne and how she used to sing at nightclubs. We heard Gladys tell us how she actually died on the operating table at 100 years of age and how God brought her back. She’s now 102 years old.

We got to meet George, a wonderful English gentleman with a great fondness for Texas and a spectacular career in aviation which has been documented in trade journals and in articles he’s written for the US Government. I’ll never forget the time George told us that he’d “find it unfortunate to die unnecessarily” due to a missed flu shot.

Lloyd, a dear man of God who pastored his fellow residents, was always quoting his favorite scripture to me, “For no eye has seen, and no ear has heard what God has in store for those who love Him.” Papa Art was always thrilled to see us. He always asked us to pray for him and he kept every picture and photo we ever gave him.

Dorothy, if we’re allowed to have favorites, would probably qualify for most everyone’s list. She lost her husband the same year we began to visit there. It wasn’t until much later that I learned from the workers that Dorothy never left her room for any reason, never made friends with the other residents, and wouldn’t have anything to do with anyone other than her own family….and us. We’re so grateful that God allowed us into her heart and to help her to open up her door to people who loved her and cared for her.

I could go on and on. I haven’t even told you about Lily, Hazel, Beulah, Brother Ralph, Rhoda, Robert, and so many dear, sweet, lovely other people.

Those of us who made the time on the third Saturday of each month are so much richer for having been part of these people’s lives.

Without them, where would we be? How much poorer would my life be without having known, and loved, these dear ones?

So, I want to say “Thank You” to God for His patience with someone like me who resisted His goodness and held little value for His people, or His good will in my life.

We started out with the desire to bless the residents of this home, as if we had everything to give and all they had was emptiness, but in the end, we were the ones who took home the treasure in arms of love. We were the ones who received the blessing and the amazing grace of God.

Welcome to the Kingdom.

“Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:12-14

Monday, October 03, 2005


Lately my wife Wendy and I have felt a calling towards the planting of a House Church out of our home.

This journey began, roughly, about two years ago, although the final piece of the puzzle fell into place for us roughly about three or so months ago.

To understand the “Why” of this, I have attempted to outline just a few of the core convictions and values that I have come realize are part of how God made me. These are factors that have helped us to come to understand the nature of God’s calling for us.

I will deal with the why the House Church model appeals to us after this list of statements, but hopefully this will pave a foundation to build upon.

How I’m wired:
I have a desire to be part of a church where the teaching and sharing of the Word of God is highly valued.

I have a desire to be part of a community where service to others, intimacy (with God and one another), and mission is practiced and encouraged.

I prefer a more simple, small, and uncluttered style of doing church, where it’s more about the building up of the disciples in their faith and the simple adoration of God for who He is and what He’s done.

I have a strong desire for the Church to be counter-cultural in practice and lifestyle, yet serving others in humility outside the four walls of the Sunday service.

I have a strong repulsion for the modern trend of the Christian Church towards a corporate-based model of doing church. I feel very passionately that the Christian Church should take most of her cues from the early church, and from the writings of the Church Fathers and the great “cloud of witnesses” we have available to us throughout the History of Christianity. (i.e.- Jonathan Edwards, William Wilberforce, etc. instead of Peter Senge or John Maxwell, etc.)

I have a strong conviction that leadership is done by example and that values expressed from the pulpit be put into practice in our actual life.

I have a strong conviction that a pastor should be available to those whom he is called to serve.

I believe that the Christian life is not a spectator sport but is a way of life that a follower of Jesus, a disciple, undertakes daily and therefore requires ongoing fellowship, pastoral care and immersion in the Word of God for direction, hope, guidance and life.

I believe that the Christian faith is very much about a lifestyle that follows the pattern of a “Jesus way of life”, more so than a series of meetings, a statement of beliefs or a prayer of salvation.

So, that's me in a nutshell. Because I'm wired this way, I've been feeling more and more called to an expression of Church that follows a similar pattern of conviction.


As my wife and I continued to dialog over these past few months regarding the planting of a church, we were informed by the writings and teachings of Dallas Willard, Todd Hunter, Professor Scott Bartchy, David Ruis, Greg Russinger, Mike Pilavachi, Justo L. Gonzalez, and several others.

One final piece to the puzzle was an article by Ray Mayhew concerning the radical practice of the early church towards giving of the tithe (or the “sacred revenue”) to the poor, rather than spending that money on itself.

The discussions that Wendy and I had after reading this article and discussing the implications lead us to the conclusion that what we were really hungry for, in the area of community, worship, service, missions, fellowship, and giving were all wrapped up in the simple, and yet revolutionary, model left to us in the form of the early church.

Why the House Church?
Here are just a few of the reasons:

Historical. The house church is the biblical church. All of the churches in the New Testament era were small assemblies that met in homes.

For the first three-hundred years of its existence the church met primarily in the homes of its members, not in specially designed buildings. Keep in mind that the United States hasn’t even been around for three hundred years. This is a huge statement to the effectiveness and the potential of these sorts of meetings. I have been reading a lot of great historical documents regarding the early church and have been excited and encouraged by what I’ve discovered so far.
*(See below for Scriptural references on the early house church)

Growth. The most explosive growth of Christianity in our own time has taken place in the likes of the People's Republic of China where its only expression has been the illegal, underground house church. Historian Del Birkey's studies (and several others) have led him to conclude that the house church is our best hope for the renewal in our times.

Resisting the Culture. Our faith is constantly being pulled towards conforming to the culture around us. (See Paul’s warning about this in Romans 12). The house church has always been counter-culture for this reason, just as Jesus said that his disciples should be in the Sermon on the Mount. **(See below for more notes on the Sermon On The Mount)

Practical Considerations. It is often argued that a large church is better equipped than a small church (or, in this case, a house-church) to organize and finance the sending of missionaries. However, this assumes that local churches are to be completely independent of each other. It certainly does not argue against a network of house-churches which cooperate with each other in the sending out of missionaries.

In fact, the argument backfires. One mega-church with one-thousand members could never match the resource potential of a network of house-churches with one-thousand members, for the mega-church must allocate huge amounts of its resources for the building itself.

According to one recent survey, as much as 82% of church revenues in an average Protestant church goes toward buildings, staff, and internal programs, while only 18% goes toward missions!

The church of the first century did not equate "bigness" with ability. The words of Paul to this effect bear repeating: "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him" (1Co 1:27-29). The world system operates from the principle that bigger is better. To those in this system, success is measured by size and might is measured by muscle. In contrast, it was the “weakness and foolishness” of the Gospel and the lifestyle of the early Christians that “turned the world upside down”.

Mission. There are several opportunities in our communities that are especially suited for the house church. An invitation offered to a work-place acquaintance to a home is much less threatening than one to a church, just as one example. Another is the unique value of the house church as a ministry to "the damaged" and the poor and needy and the possibility of learning the joy of giving by elevating that practice to a personal level.

So…this is, in part, why we’re feeling God tugging us in this direction. We still have a lot of unanswered questions at this point, (like, “Who would go with us?”, “Where will we live next month?”, etc.) but the framework is clear and God’s calling to us has been very specific.

We pray now for God’s continued provision (for my employment situation and for a new house to live in before the end of this month), and for God’s direction regarding the formation of this (potential) House Church.

More later…


* Romans 16:5 (as well as 1Co 16:19) speaks of the church that met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla. When Paul wrote to Philemon he also addressed his letter to Archippus and to the church in his house (v. 2). Likewise, when he wrote his greetings in Col 4 he mentions the church which met in the house of Nympha (4:15). When Paul taught the newly formed churches, he did so from "house to house" (Ac 20:20). There is an allusion to a church in Jason’s house in Ac 16:5-6, in Lydia’s house in Ac 16:40, and in Mary’s house in Ac 12:12. In 2Jn there is a warning to the church not to receive false teachers into their house (v. 10). Contrary to popular belief, this is not referring to individual Christians who might have unbelievers in their homes for social and evangelistic purposes; rather it is a warning to the church not to allow false teachers to participate in the meeting. Since participation in the meeting implied the opportunity to speak it would have meant potential harm to the church if a false teacher were allowed in the meeting. Hence there is much evidence for the "house-church" in the New Testament.

**Sermon On the Mount: That sermon outlines how the powerless disciple can be salt and light in a dark world (Mt. 5:13-14), how to withstand evildoers (Mt. 5:39) by showing God's love to the world through suffering at the hands of persecution (Mt. 5:39), foreclosing landlords (Mt. 5:40), and occupying Roman authorities (Mt. 5:41). It speaks of giving and lending to the most hopeless credit risks (Mt. 5:42). It speaks of a praying community ("Our Father, who art in heaven ..." Mt. 6:9) that fasts (Mt. 6:16), gives of itself (Mt. 6: 21), and depends completely on God (Mt. 25ff). It speaks of the non-judgment of individuals (Mt. 7:1), just as it speaks of the need to judge those who would be authorities in spiritual matters (Mt. 7:15ff).