Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why House Church?

Too many young adults are leaving the church and/or have already left the church. Too many adults period, actually. Normally, this occurs around graduation. In the past, it has been said that once they have a kid or two, they’ll come back to make sure their own children gets proper discipleship. However, in our current day and age, this doesn’t automatically happen anymore. In fact, having kids could be a reason not to go, since they are too busy now with the multiple sport seasons and activities that their kids are in. After all, my kid cannot miss out on the opportunity to develop his soccer skills through club in the winter while learning piano and playing basketball for school. Have you seen his/her homework lately? Lives are too busy to spend on church stuff. All they do is color Jesus pictures and play anyway, right? Besides, church is just not so relevant anymore. I go religiously (once or twice a month), and it doesn’t really have much of an impact on the rest of my life anyway.

Our culture is changing. People’s lives have already changed. Very few want formality in their lives. Many are seeking informal, natural expressions of life. We live disconnected lives and yet we crave true connection. We run here and there without the time or ability to stop and think and love and listen and be. We are constantly having messages thrown at us, while we just sit there, accept some and throw out most of what we hear. We want to be entertained because it’s nice to enjoy life in a relaxed way, but that is not truly what the Church is about. It’s not about entertainment and consumption. It’s about something else. It’s about loving God and loving others.

Many young adults these days see little correlation between the Sunday morning “show” and living the life that God has called them to. It may (or may not) make them feel good or “close to God” for a few moments, but it does very little to change their lives or equip them to actually live that life. Many know they should go, they’re just not sure why. After all sleep is really important on Sunday morning since they were up so late Saturday night with their friends. Speaking of friends, they seem to be what matter the most to them. It doesn’t matter so much what they do, as long as they do it together in fun, relational ways.

There are many reasons why young adults and others are leaving the church these days. Sometimes, it’s the church’s “fault”. (Someone hurt them.) Sometimes, it’s the cultural life they live. (Church just doesn’t fit anymore.) Sometimes, it’s simply the entrance of a sin that they don’t want to give up. (I kinda like partying and all that comes with it without having to feel guilty about it on Sunday morning.) But, no matter the reason, the Church and the mature in Christ stand responsible for doing something about it.

We need to create safe, accepting environments that are relationally based.
We need to connect with them, ask questions, and listen to their responses.
We need to be patient, give them space, and pray for them.
We need to give them a way to love others in natural, practical ways.
We need to offer them something to give their lives to that is a tangible, obvious expression of God’s love.

House Church provides these things. It is not the only model of Church. It is not the best model of Church. It is the original model of Church. It is also a culturally relevant, meaningful model of Church that is beginning to make a reemergence in the U. S. and around the world. There is a house church network in Dayton, Ohio of about 1,600 people. There is a house church network in Columbus or 4-5,000 people. There is a house church network in Grand Rapids, Michigan of about 4-5,000 people. House Churches around the world are too numerous to keep track of, much due to their necessity in persecuted nations.

House Church also provides a safe, natural way to connect seekers to God’s Kingdom. It provides neutral ground. My unbelieving dad used to tell me he couldn’t go to church, because the “roof would fall in.” He and others unbelievers don’t like sitting around for an hour or more letting a stranger tell them what to believe (albeit in entertaining or contemporary ways.) If we give them space to share their unbelief and why, then we can move the dialogue forward in sharing our own reasons for belief and how God has worked in our lives. Just giving them space to be who they are and invite them to consider where we are, encourages them toward faith instead of turning them away in rebellion or self-preservation.

As it turns out, God has given me a passion for small groups for the purpose of discipleship and fellowship. He’s designed me to be more of a facilitator than a proclaimer. He’s given me a passion for the lost, especially those who have given up on church or have never really gone. He’s made me the kind of person that doesn’t seek the spotlight or the stage, but prefers leading smaller groups and being one of many involved. There is great reason culturally for House Church. There is great reason spiritually for House Church. There is great reason organizationally for House Church. There is great reason in my design for House Church. More than anything, though, becoming a simple expression of Christian community brings glory to God.

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