Monday, June 2, 2014

Why We're Not Starting a House Church

We had a houseful of family this weekend here to celebrate our eldest's high school graduation, most of whom left on Sunday morning. Because of the timing of their flights, we weren't able to get to any church service, so our youngest took matters into her own hands. For quite a while now, she has been telling us we need to start our own church. Invite friends over -- take turns preaching sermons and leading music -- hmmm.

So, yesterday, she prepared a sermon and chose some music and led a worship service for the family in our living room. She preached on a passage in 1 Chronicles where David is praying about the gifts the people have given for building the temple. Honestly, I was pretty astounded at her insight into the scripture and the quality of her delivery. Fascinating girl, my daughter.

But I keep trying to explain to her that holding our own worship services in our home, taking turns preaching to each other, is not really a good idea. At least, not in lieu of finding a real "church home". I admit, I can understand the appeal to her. She seems to have inherited my disease of seeing a thing and always thinking, "I can do that" . . . or even worse, "I can do that better." Sometimes, it is good to just acknowledge and use the gifts of others.

I'm struggling a bit, though, to articulate to her why our own personal church is not optimal. I understand why in my gut -- I've just never had to put it in words.

People are built for corporate worship, I believe. It's somewhere in our makeup. Even the non-religious find a way to worship something, and to do so en masse. Witness NFL football games. Fourth of July celebrations. Political conventions. Popular concert tours. You might contend that none of these are worship situations; I could make a case otherwise. We are made to worship, and if we don't worship the only Object worthy of our worship, we inevitably find something else. Sometimes that something else is a thing very intimate and private -- I've known people who hold their families as objects of their worship. But corporate worship is a powerful thing, and it's something I think we are driven to do on a regular basis.

That said, getting a few families together in our home every week might meet that need for corporate worship in our lives, but I'm skeptical. Primarily because of the other objection I have to the idea: we would need a shepherd.

God has called and equipped certain people in his body to lead and guide and teach his people. All we are like sheep, it says in Isaiah, and sheep desperately need a shepherd. Yes, Christ is the ultimate Good Shepherd, but I think we tread in dangerous waters when we presume to have the wisdom and discernment to just lead ourselves spiritually. We need gifted, spiritually strong elders to guide us. Unless we happened to find someone so called by God to join our little home church, we would just end up like Isaiah's stray sheep who have each turned to his own way.

And so, while we enjoyed a week of worship in our living room, we return to the church search next week. Prayers appreciated. I'm weary of this process.


Jerry Sundberg said...

What about the example we can readily see in 1 Corinthians 14? There, Paul is correcting the lack of order but illustrates for us what every church in His day looked like.
What about leading everyone to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in order to let HIM lead and guide them into all truth. Most pastors I know think this whole thing is ridiculous, the sheep leading the sheep but they all forgot one very important thing. They too are sheep although called first as sons and from their relationship with the Father, once approved by the Father, for we cannot approve ourselves, can we?

The 5-fold ministry's job is to build up the church until EVERY joint learns how to hear the Spirit of the Lord and give their part for the edification of itself in love.

Like training for a new job, is it better to provide a classroom setting where no one is confirmed in their understanding and then release them to do their job? Or is it better to put them in the midst of their job, teach them through example and then closely monitor their progress until it is certain they fully understand what they are doing?

The church uses the first example without the desired outcome of every joint knowing its part and contributing to the whole.

The second part is what is described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14. Everyone comes together and brings their part and through all of this, Holy Spirit is able to reveal His whole purpose in them AND the great benefit is, they all learn how integral every part is to the whole.

Would you or anyone else conduct their families as the church does it today, a classroom style setting where no one is allowed to interact with the speaker but must keep quiet and listen intently and with no one to go to them to confirm what they each heard and how their heard it?

I say no. As parents, we interact with our children and if we are so fortunate to teach our children in a home school setting as we did with our son, we are able to put into actual practice all the lessons learned and to confirm or approve.

Our son is grown now and we are seeing the fruits of our labor and the fruits of the labor of the Holy Spirit in his life as he now leads others in much the same way he was led in our family, putting God first in everything and promoting questions and dialog.

In a church setting, I can give a message without interruption and come away satisfied that all heard the message but what I cannot have is that which Paul sought for among those he ministered to. That is to KNOW that they all understand Christ and Him crucified. This needs to be confirmed in their lives and once confirmed and they are taught to put all their trust in the capable leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, I can then rest contented and filled with immeasurable joy for I can see that nothing of my labor will have been in vain.

This is what is missing today and the time is quickly approaching where God will be correcting this in His Body.

GJK said...

Jerry (nice to "meet" you, by the way), I agree with most everything you have to say here. In fact, I had to smile at your description of the speaker who preaches uninterrupted but has no idea if heart change is happening in the flock . . . vs. a teacher in an interactive environment. That's exactly what my daughter wants -- an interactive sermon, where people can ask questions and discuss things with the pastor while he/she is preaching.

Again, my main concern here is that, if people are taking turns preaching to each other, you need a shepherd of some kind overseeing that. We do learn to hear the Holy Spirit and be guided by him through stepping out in faith and doing it, but we also need guidance from those more mature in their faith than we are to make that happen.

If you have a group of not-yet-that-mature believers just preaching to each other, there's a chance of having a situation where the blind are leading the blind into a ditch. They would need some oversight and leadership. Just sayin'. :)