gentry13

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2005 at 1:13 am

pixie notes, volume 1 part 2

please note: kellie wrote this post in response to a conversation that is taking place on aaron monts’ blog. so, if you are the kind of person who cares about context, read his post entitled house church. if you could care less about context, feel free to read it anyway. i think it’s stimulating stuff.

OK, so I know I’m getting in late on the conversation. I originally wrote a long comment which Jeff was going to post on his blog and link through the comments (I am married to Jeff by the way) but now this thing has 55 comments. So I might as well go and make it longer.

My intention is to help try and give a little more clarity on a very fuzzy thing: what home churches are and how they operate. Here is my curriculum vitae on homechurches (if you need it): I did my internship for LCC with Xenos Christian Fellowship and after graduating spent two years living with them. I have spent two years now helping to lead Sinners and Saints. OK…so not extensive, but still.

Side note: someone comments back hit the nail straight on the head. The author of the article that started this here shindig is a blessed child of God who doesn’t support his arguments well at all. I think it was called “cultish”. Anyways, I read his book with wineskins in the title during my internship. Long-time ago, so don’t have all the details straight but I do remember a strain linking the tabernacle times (good, Israel directed by God chosen Moses, and the church is mobile) and temple times (bad, Israel ruled by lots of bad and some good kings, not everybody can make it to temple) as a reason to go with homechurches vs. traditional churches. I think this sufficiently highlights the background of said article and provides evidence for referenced comments.

I understand the main difference between the home church model and traditional model to be the point of entry for the convert. In both models, people are brought through relationships. One will tend to invite them to the home church first and the other to the main church service. This is largely because home-churchers will identify themselves first with their home church and then the fellowship when asked where they attend. “I am a part of the Sinners and Saints home church. We’re with City on a Hill Christian Fellowship.” When I was in the traditional church I said, “I am a part of Jefferson Street Christian Church. I go to the Land home group.”

As to us getting the same bugs as the traditional church…would we be a church without it? I mean, wasn’t the NT with the exception of the Gospels largely written to corral said problems? Bit of info for you here: Xenos did go through a church split a while back. I think that it involved music.

So, why home churches? Here are my personal reasons:

1. Personally, as a woman, it opens ministry opportunities that are rarely open to me in the traditional church. Or if they are available there, I am to afraid of controversy to take. Honestly, I went through all of college planning on taking the academic route. My parents were always involved with ministry and when I was twelve one of their friends took another position because the church he was at didn’t want to change anymore. And ministers moved all the time…I’d already had enough of that. So I went to a ministry focused college with the intention of never marrying a paid minister or doing paid ministry. Besides, I’m a girl that doesn’t like to teach kids or sing songs so there weren’t many areas that I thought a church would hire me. And then Doc Kurka suggests I go to Xenos because the internship I wanted to do in Germany fell through. So I head out to Xenos thinking I’ll be studying worldviews or something (they do a big lecture series on that) and end up spending my time building relationships and learning to do church. My mentor challenged me to stay in the church…. “too many of our minds go into academia, we need some here in the church too” and “the best thing you could do is to teach someone else what you know…teach them to live Christ.” He told me that I could plant home churches. Wow, somebody actually telling me that I could teach and plant churches and help with church strategy. No one had ever thought I could do that before.

Anyways, enough testimony…back to the opportunities. The homechurches that I have been a part of (this may not apply to every homechurch you come across) have a head leadership of 4 people, 2 male and 2 female. They rotate teaching, take care of growth and discipline issues, and facilitate developing more leaders to hopefully plant a new homechurch. The female leaders do basically everything the male leaders do except peeing standing up. When I moved to Boston, Xenos was debating female elders, and the 2 head pastors were men. But on every other level ministry opportunity was shared across gender. Now of course, if one of the guys met some girl they worked with and she started coming ‘round we’d try and move the relationship focus to one of the girls….the “When Harry Met Sally” thing combined with ministry is a time bomb.

  1. I love the fact that in home-churches most people are lay ministry. I really like hanging out with people that aren’t Christians. It is stimulating and stretches me. One of the best ways that I have found to do this naturally is through the workplace…I spend more time at work than I do with my husband. A 40-hour work week and ministry are feasible if shared with 3 other people and the church gets to 25-30 people at its largest. I find too, that it encourages people with other vocations that they can do serious ministry too. I’ve known home church leaders that were doctors and dentists and teachers and social workers down and waiters. And if you got them aside, they’d tell you that their main joy was building the church and discipling and teaching. Most of them hadn’t known Christ long before some had said to them….grow a little and you can lead a church too.

  1. I love the fact that when I hear the word “ministry” in the homechurch it is applied to long conversations at coffee bars or pubs, or counseling and praying for another believer, or writing encouragement notes. I love the fact that in Xenos, when you meet with someone (even those that have been around for only months) you haven’t hung out with for a while, conversation will turn to ministry. All Christian are ministers, so it’s natural, right? And isn’t something wrong with your spiritual growth if you’re not serving? See, homechurches tend to put people to work immediately so they don’t know there is the option of pew-sitting. One of our guys was mystified that a close Southern Baptist friend evaluated his spirituality on the basis of knowledge rather than service. He thought the way to be a Christian was to spend hours loving the disabled guy that most people wouldn’t spend time with…or on the fact that he handed out money to help non-Christian friends at work with medical bills.

  1. I love the fact that in home church, I get audience support when I am teaching. Another “ministry” of the church is to support the teacher by talking. If the service is dead, the members know that it is just as much their fault as the people guiding the meeting. I mean, if it didn’t make sense or you thought the teacher was completely not making the text relevant, you had the opportunity to say so, yeah? I love the fact that it is so laid back I can bring some of the classroom into a teaching, that I can go detailed background because it is a small group. I don’t have to worry about losing someone because I know that a) they tell me they don’t understand or b) I can see it on the face and I will have the opportunity to sort it out with them.

  1. I love that fact that homechurches can at times totally disarm the lost. They come in with all these preconceptions about church and Christians which are immediately turned on their head. They start asking questions…You’re a church? Why are you meeting in a house? (Because the church is really the group of people worshiping God irrespective of where they meet). Who is your leader? (Well, we have 4 leaders because in the church ministry is shared and at some level everybody shares part of the responsibility). We get the chance to immediately start teaching truth because they start asking questions.

  1. I love the fact that right now all of our money goes out (well except for $20 for toilet paper and coffee). Right now we don’t have any overhead and it is a blessing. Someday we may get big enough where it makes sense to get a building for the main teaching or to pay a few people to oversee a network of churches. But right now we have the blessing of giving it all away. When we started going through church finances at one set meeting a month I saw a passion for giving take hold in our members. We have our monthly missionary commitments, but our goal is to exceed that. Then we sit down and try and come up with places to give the rest too. Our goal is a near empty bank account. It’s changed us.

  1. I love the history of church growth. When I interned with Xenos, I was with the North 4th Home Church. When I came back after college, they were in the middle of birthing a new church and I soon was a part of Red House Home Church. Some of my friends stayed with the other church. When I moved to Columbus both churches had birthed a new church. So, now my friends in the original group were now part of four different home churches. That meant a lot of people came to Christ and grew up into maturity. Yeah, it took place over years but it is so cool to look back on and to look forward to for Sinners & Saints. It gives people a tangible hold on growth…like starting a new service, except it happens more often. And when they see themselves growing, they get excited to do it again.

So in the end, it’s still church. When we grow big enough we look really similar. We have the same goals. With this difference: most people become members by joining a home church and then start associating with the larger body. We start with the small and grow big because we intend for our small churches to self-replicate, because we intend our people to “self-replicate” themselves through helping someone else to grow in Christ.

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