Last Sunday, we started this new series where we looking at the direction I think God is calling us to go in 2007. In a lot of ways it’s the original idea/vision from the beginning, but I think how we try to live it out will be different.
Last Sunday, I told you the story of how as a youth pastor, God began to lead me into thinking about what the church really was and should be.
In Acts 2:42-47 that the first church was devoted to 4 things:
1. The Apostles’ teaching (God’s word)
2. Fellowship (Being together)
3. Communion (regularly remembering Jesus’ redemption)
4. Prayer (Talking/communing with God)
We saw that the first church was a group of people who were walking through life together. They were friends! They were such good friends that they sold what they had and took care of any of the rest of them who were in need!
This group of friends did two things:
1. Worshipped together in the temple.
2. Met in their homes for Communion
Because of the what they were devoted to and the way they lived, it created a setting where God was able to add to their number daily! (verse 47)
We talked about the powerful experiences we’ve had with church and saw its meaning for us came from a combination of worship, the word, and fellowship. We saw that, from our experience of church, all of these are needed for the complete experience of church to be felt.
We need to be a connected group of people. I think God has “forced” us into this “house mode”, because he wants this to become part of our DNA! We can’t ever settle for just an event that happens every Sunday.
I really feel like we have to find a way to somehow keep this house-mode as a part of Pathway when we go back to our large gatherings.
I think I’ve figured out a unique way to do that and I’ll tell you about that in a second, but first I want you to see something…
There’s a passage in Hebrews 10:24-25 that’s usually used to remind people about the importance of “going to church”, and it’s ok and right to apply it in that way, but I’ve realized it the writer of Hebrews was actually encouraging the believers to keep meeting in house-mode. Listen to what it says…
“23Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. 25And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.”
I looked up in some commentaries and discovered what he was talking about here was that some believer’s had stopped meeting together in their houses and were just meeting at the temple, cause they were afraid of persecution!
He’s tell them, “God can be trusted to keep his promise. We need to think of ways to encourage each other to keep living a life of love and good deeds, so let’s not stop meeting together in our homes, but instead keep doing it to encourage and warn each other as the end gets closer!”
Meeting in small groups in houses, is the biblical/historical way the church met in the beginning. That’s why it’s important for us to keep this as a major part of who we are as a group of friends following Jesus together.
But, we need more than just this house mode! We need to worship together in large settings and meet in small settings. Remember? That’s what they did in Acts 2:46! They worshipped in the
There is a strength in each mode that you can’t get in the other mode. They both have positives and negatives. Let me ask you guys….
What are the strengths/benefits about to large gatherings? Large worship experience, can grow larger, financially larger to be able to do pool money to do more things for God and in outreach to the community.
What are the negatives? Hard to really connect, less interactive, hard on people who have to set up and take down each Sunday.
What are the strengths/benefits about our house gatherings? Intimate, more interactive, less intimidating for some visitors
What are the negatives? It’s more distracting, limits growth, hard on people who live there, etc…
If we focus as a church on just the house-mode, we’ll have some negatives and miss out on some of the positives of the large gatherings.
If we only focus on the large gatherings and forget this house-mode, then we’ll have some of the negatives of the large gathering and miss out on some of the positives of this house-mode! We’ve got to have BOTH!
Before I tell you my idea of how I want to try doing this, I want to tell you one more thing…
One of the other keys to these huge successful church planting movements that we talked about last week, that I’ve discovered was they were more decentralized.
Explain the difference in centralization and decentralization. There’s a book I just read called “The Starfish and the Spider” that talks about the power of decentralization. Examples: Talk about Aztecs, Ebay, and the ultimate example of the power of decentralization: Al Qaeda.
Another book ,I’m reading called “The Forgotten Ways” talks a lot about how the first church was very decentralized in the way in grew and spread!
There’s power in decentralization!
I think God wants us to move more toward decentralization, NOT completely decentralized but more decentralized!
I think that I need to give away more and more of
None of you would wait for me or Sue to plan events in any area other area of your lives, or expect us to set up times for you to meet with friends. You’d just do it.
That’s the natural organic way out there in “life” and that’s the way we as a church need to be!
Here’s how I think we can combine the best of house-mode and the large gatherings…
I think God wants us to be what I’m calling Hybrid-church. We won’t just be “house church” or a “large gathering” church. We’ll be both!
We’ll be a church that realizes that the church is us, not a place or a time of the week. We’ll meet together in different house settings, small group settings and then come together in large gatherings.
Here’s what I’m beginning to envision us doing…
I think that when we go back in to “public gathering” mode that we won’t meet every Sunday.
I think we’ll meet in house-mode some weeks and then meet in large public gatherings on other weeks. This way we can have the part about this that we love and need and we’ll have the part about the large gatherings that we love and need. We’ll be stronger with both!
If we lose this and just go back to meeting in a building somewhere that we’ll miss out on what God’s trying to get us to be and see! If we stay in this mode we’ll limit our ability to grow and limit what we can do.
Large = gives us strength, unity, focus
Small = gives us depth, community, people to cheer us on
House groups I’m imagining won’t try and to do all we’re doing here today.
They’ll take on the look and feel of the leader and the personality and giftings of the people who meet at that house!
- Some groups might pray and hang out, eat and talk together.
- Some might worship hang out, eat and
- Some groups might have discussion time and pray.
- Some might talk about the talks we have in the larger gathering and figure out how to live them out!
- Some might read a book and talk about it together.
Whatever it is that these house groups do it needs to be simple and reproducible, because the purpose of these groups is to grow. You can only hold so many people in your house before you’ll have to start a new group.
Making it simple makes it easy for the new group to start and our church to keep growing!
What they need:
- A place/Host
- A leader (or two)
- At least Two others.
If we just have these house groups, we’ll eventually just end up being a bunch of separate groups that don’t know each other or have much connection.
That’s why we’ll keep moving back to the large gathering setting. That’s one way we’ll keep our unity.
We’ll also stay connected through other ways: internet, events, and common interest groups.
In March, I want begin experimenting with this new concept. We’ll meet on March 4th like this, all together at my house and then we’ll meet the next week on March 11th in two or so small groups. Then on March 18th we’ll meet all together like this again. For the last Sunday in March we’ll meet in those two small groups again.
- Talk about meeting in April at Mitchell Park. Move to 3 Sundays on for a series and then 2 in small group mode. (First Sunday “practice gathering”, the 2-Sunday series, end month in 2 Sunday house groups.)
- Tell them we might meet at a smaller location instead of Mitchell Prk.
- Tell them we can’t afford to meet in a larger location, even if we wanted to. This mode will help us to survive and still grow as a church. But, we’re not doing this just for financial reasons. It’s for strength! The finances we save from not meeting weekly is just a side benefit!
- Some might sit around and have a meal and have someone share a devotional thought or what or God is teaching them.
Our church needs to be simple, organic and liquid to be who God’s calling us to be.
This is all going to be an experiment.
I have ideas on how it can work, but I don’t have every detail planned out.
I want us all to pray and seek God about this and get his direction. As we move forward and plan this stuff out I want to get your feedback and ideas on how to implement these ideas. I also want to get your feedback after we do the month of March. That way you can give more ideas from trying this hybrid mode of how we can tweak it and make it work best.
Close with communion. Remind them we’re imitating the first church in doing this together
Talk about Passover.
Close - How Will We Begin To Live This Out Right Away?
This new hybrid idea is in some ways more “dangerous”, there aren’t any churches I know of who are doing, so we’re heading down an uncharted “Pathway”!
But this will help us to live out the strength of the first church and these other great church planting movement in our day. I also think it’s the best way for our church to survive and grow to become all God wants us to be.
We’ll talk more together about ways to actually start fleshing out these ideas. I want and need your input, ideas and feedback.
But the most important thing we need is God’s guidance and feedback through it all!