Yesterday, we left off with the idea that the church is more than a meeting featuring preaching and singing, but it is actually a people who are called out from the world to serve God together.
Today I want to talk about a radical concept and how it relates to our children participating in church. Here’s the idea–Church is not about the meeting. This seems like a radical idea because our current version of Christianity is so meeting centric that even house churches have started to believe that its important to protect the meeting. However, if you look at the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament, the church met together whenever it could, daily (Acts 2:46), day and night (Acts 20:31), and all the more as we see the day of his appearing coming closer.
Church–Christianity–was not a once a week thing for them. It was 24/7/365 experience that enveloped all of the believers’ lives. So yes, the meetings had some intentionality behind them, but they weren’t the only chance people had to see each other, teach each other or encourage one another. It was always going on.
Let me give you a current example. Last night my wife went to meet with group of ladies to talk about the Bible, accountability, and mission. After she got done, I got together with some guys to do the same. Tonight night our house church will gather to eat and share life, but more than likely we’ll pray and encourage each other as well. Friday I’ll meet with a friend to strategize starting another house church. Sunday we’ll gather as a church to celebrate the Lord together. I could go on. The point is, there is more than one point of the week where our lives intersect and we encourage each other, so if the Sunday morning meeting gets interrupted by a cranky 2 year old, it’s not the end of our church.
And this is the point–church exists outside the meeting! In fact at this point a meeting is only a small percentage of the actual church life that is going on in any given week. No one in our house church is paid to produce a sermon or music, so even if someone has a teaching or a song to share, if it get’s interrupted by a noisy kid or two or five, we can share it the next time we’re together.
Why is this so important? We often want to have a babysitter or a program for the kids in place because we think they distract from the planned portion of the meeting. They interrupt the preaching. They mess up worship. They keep us from interacting. But if we lower our expectations for our meetings and raise our expectations for the church to be the church, then our kids really can’t mess anything up. They are just another part of the family with different gifts and needs.
None of this is to say that meetings, teachings, and songs don’t have a place. The New Testament argues that they can and do. I teach, my wife sings songs, and our house churches do have scheduled meetings. We just understand that kids don’t always sit still for 30 or 60 minutes straight. They will make noise, interrupt, and challenge an adult-oriented meeting.
But because house churches operate as families, they have time for those who are weaker and younger than themselves. No family would ever argue that we should have a majority of our time where the little kids are excluded from the family gathering. They would do their best to incorporate the kids from the youngest to the oldest into the family gatherings because it isn’t about the meeting, it’s about the family. The same should be true of the church.
We’ll talk more about what church is and how it impacts kids again tomorrow, but for now, have you noticed a focus on meetings cause frustration with kids? Have you seen this in a house church or in a small group? How have you tackled this issue? Leave a comment and let us know.
Photo Credit: Silhouette of man and woman standing during sunset by Daniel Joshua
Other Posts in the House Churches and Kids Series
It’s that time of year to join the chorus of people telling you what books I’ve been been reading this year and what you should be reading!
I set an ambitious goal for reading this year (for a father of six who works full time and serves a house church network on the side). My goal was to read 100 books this year and to be honest I’m not quite there yet. I’m 98% done (I’ll let you do the math on this one) and the last 2% is within striking distance. How awful would it be to get this close and not finish? So I’m continuing to work on it even though I’m writing about it.
So, with no further ado, here’s this year’s reading list:
Straightforward Thoughts For Young Men by J.C. Ryle / Utopia by Thomas More / Trump and the Future of America by Jeremiah Johnson / Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk / When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett / Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne / The Shy Child by Ward K. Swallow / Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp / Small Town Mission by Aaron Morrow / The Common Rule by Justin W Earley
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung / Them by Ben Sasse / Wildfire by Ed Waken / George Washington’s Farewell Adress by (who else?) George Washington / Sent Together by Brad A. Watson / And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer / The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scogal
Ten Commandments by David Washburn / A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller / Get Weird by C.J. Casciotta / A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards / The Confessions of St. Patrick by St. Patrick / How to Remember Names and Faces by Dale Carnegie / The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch / It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried / Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton / Cut and Run by Ben Acker
Little Words by Jeff Clifton / The Community of God by Douglas S. Bursch / The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi / Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Barton / The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
How to Give Away Your Faith by Paul E. Little / How to Talk To Anybody, Anytime, Anywhere by Chris Widener / Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie / A Technique for Producing Ideas by James W. Young / Evangelism As Missions by Elliot Clark / The Pioneers by David McCullough / Don’t Be Weird by Ellain Ursuy / Birthing the Miraculous by Heidi Baker
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday / Relativity by Albert Einstein / Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne / George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation by George Washington / Self-Publishing for the First-Time Author by M.K. Williams / Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt / The Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola
Anointed to Heal by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark / One Thing by Neil Cole / The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi / Why Authors Fail by Derek Doepker / Write Short Kindle Books by Nathan Meunier / Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins / Independent Publishing for Christian Authors by Ed Cyzewski / A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson / Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger / The End of Power by Moises Naim / The Last Emperox by John Scalzi / Margin by Richard Swenson / Church Transfusion by Neil Cole and Phil Helfer / Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi / The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Raising Worry Free Girls by Sissy Goff / Surprise the World by Michael Frost / Leap First by Seth Godin / St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton / The Indigenous Church and the Indigenous Church and the Missionary by Melvin Hodges / Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi / Contagious by Jonah Berger / Real Life Organizing by Cassandra Aarssen / The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller / Keeping the Fire by Rolland Baker / The Attibutes of God by A.W. Pink.
Do What Jesus Did by Robby Dawkins / Two Treatises of Government by Wendy McElroy / Culture Wins by William Vanderbloemen / Keep Christianity Weird by Michael Frost / The Fear of God by John Bunyan / Playing to Win by Michael Lewis / Pilgrims and Puritans by Christopher Collier
The Terminal List by Jack Carr / My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller / Beyond Awkward by Beau Crosetto / How Cosmic Forces Shape Our Destinies by Nikola Tesla / Nietzsche in 90 Minutes / The Living Reminder by Henri Nouwen
The Yes Brain by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson / Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray / George Whitfield by Arnold A Dallimore / A Cry for Justice by Shelley Hundley / It’s A Wonderful Wife by Camille Pagan / The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry / Six Lies People Believe About Divine Healing by Steve Bremner / Murder on the Orient Express / The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde / The Lonely Search for God by Henry Nouwen / Animal Farm by George Orwell/ Evangelism for Non-Evangelists* by Mark Teasdale / Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and Lockdowns* by Alex Berenson
* These books are the few books that I hope to complete by December 31st, 2020.
Tune in over the next couple of days as I tell you about my favorites on this list and talk about the effects of reading a hundred books in a year.
What It’s About: A.J. Dejonge tells the autobiographical story of their time as Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) University missionaries when he and his team made a transition from a staff-led campus ministry to a student-led campus ministry. This allowed CCC staff to start and oversee multiple campus ministries at different colleges. Based on this experience, he argues that student-led (or lay-led) ministries can reach more people than any revival through the means of disciple multiplication. Dejonge contends that only catalytic ministry styles will allow CCC, other college ministries, and even the church itself achieve the multiplication disciples it is called to.
What I Liked: There was so much to like here!
First, Dejonge is clearly interested in starting movements where people need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is something people who have fallen in love with Jesus should be pursuing and his passion to reach the lost is contagious. Everything that is found within the pages of this book is focused on getting more people involved in reaching those who haven’t come to love Jesus.
While the book tells the story of their campus ministry expansion, it’s organized around different proverbs that their ministry has discovered. These proverbs help tease out the wisdom of their approach of putting every day students in charge of the ministry of reaching the campus. A few of the proverbs include: “Lead only to train,” “Value transferability over personal genius,” and “The empowered masses will always outperform the professionalism of a few.” Many of these proverbs are designed to help navigate the tricky balance between being a too-heavily centralized ministry or a healthy decentralized movement.
I love how the principles found in this book don’t just apply to CCC. While everything he learned during his time is taught through the lens of a college ministry, many of the concepts of multiplication have been borrowed from experienced church multiplication experts and can be easily implemented in multiplying ministry in the church. Dejonge essentially said part of this process was designed to help his college students start churches if they graduate and move to towns where no churches exist. At the very end of the book he acknowledges he is now in the process of planting a church outside of CCC using the very principles he is writing about.
What I Didn’t Like: There’s really only one chapter of the book I didn’t like. Chapter 10 is called “Ownership and Control” and Dejonge wrestles with the question of who really owns the ministry in this chapter. By the end of the chapter, it’s clear that while Dejonge is clearly in favor of giving much of the ministry happening on each campus to the college students on each campus, at the end of the day it’s still the staff who are ultimately in charge. This seemed odd from a book called “Giving Up Control.” He talks about a nearby college ministry that wanted support, but ultimately did not want to become a CCC affiliate and then goes on to speak about the wisdom of franchises. I think here, he misses the point of humility, being teachable, and healthy response to mentors in favor a business model that is man-centered. He makes some understandable points about why CCC staff is still ultimately in control of each ministry and yet there is a sense in reading this chapter that the name and brand of the ministry may still occupy a little too high of place in the author’s mind.
Should You Get It: Probably! If you’ve never been in ministry or never thought about multiplying disciples and churches, I would likely point you to an easier entry point like “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman, because it’s more accessible for every Christian. However, if you are in any kind of leadership capacity, if you have a heart for making disciples that make disciples, if you have apostolic leanings, or you’re part of a house church or church plant, I would seriously encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. It has a lot of practical wisdom about instilling skills and competencies in people so that you can entrust the work of the Gospel to them with minimal oversight and this is critical to raising up movements of the Gospel.