In my head, whenever I have a lot of reasons for something or facts that I apply to a subject, I start numbering them. But I don’t number them really well. Whenever I use one, I assign a totally random and arbitrary number to emphasize the fact that I have a bunch of reasons or facts and this is just one of many. One example is my “Rules of Parenting.” I can’t tell you how many I actually have, but the next time I bring one up, you can be sure it will be “Travis’ Rules of Parenting #867.”
Yesterday I found another group of reasons that I could number in a similar fashion: the reasons my friends and I meet as house churches instead of as a traditional congregation. And while I could probably continue to make up non-sensical numbers, I thought it might be helpful for me to truly number the reasons we do house churches in order to see how many there actually are. My hope is after a year or so of writing to have 20 or more of these that I can point people to when they begin asking me questions about house churches.
So, with no further ado, Reason #1
I was sitting at McDonald’s with the guys in my 2&3. We had basically just finished up and were about to leave when our new friend Ahmed* came up and started talking to us. We met Ahmed last week and he told us his story of his life and his journey to Christ. Ahmed also told us he was homeless. We had asked Ahmed if we could help in any way and he told us he had it taken care of.
This week, however, things had changed for Ahmed. Without going into a ton of details, he had a misunderstanding that led to falling out with his homeless shelter. I had learned previously that Ahmed was part of a church, so I asked him if his church had helped him. He gave me a legitimate reason that they had in the past but weren’t now. But the next thing he said was difficult. “I understand why they can’t always help me out. They have expenses that they need to take care of.”
My friend and I looked at each other and smiled. It was the knowing smile of two people who knew that buildings and salaries weren’t more important than the homeless follower of Jesus trying to put his life back together. Ahmed caught our quick interchange and we explained to him that we might have thought differently about his situation than he did.
And so my friends, Reason #1 why we meet as house churches is we don’t want to put buildings and salaries ahead of the legitimate needs of others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need. Foregoing the building and the salary has helped us to never really need to be concerned about “the bottom line” of our churches when we step out to help others. Many might say they are able to do this as well with a building or salary that they need to pay. I rejoice in this fact! But I also know of many places who have had to make these hard choices and I’m not envious of that position at all.
Reason #1 has a name. Ahmed and the 10 or 15 others like him that we’ve been able to help is why we meet as house churches.
Side note: Please pray for my friend Ahmed. I believe him to be a sincere man trying to put his life back together but is in a tough spot. And pray for him to become a faithful witness of Christ in places many of us cannot reach.
*It may go without saying, but Ahmed’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.
Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny. These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site. Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.
This week finds me pretty much snowed in my house, with the news predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow. There are a lot worse things that could happen. I got to play with some of the most fun kids I know. There’s nothing quite like spontaneous, fun, free time with the family. If only I didn’t have to shovel first. And now, on to the links:
One of the traps we fall into frequently is letting the things of Jesus distract us from actually knowing and following Him. Quincy at Christ the Center takes a look at Paul’s instruction to the Colossians and how we can reclaim the wonder of simply knowing Christ.
One of the downfalls of making the transition into an organic church setting is that we can lose focus on our Master in the process. That’s why I love this post by Mercy and Wolfgang Simson at While We Slept. Being some of the original house church thinkers, they’re still finding themselves longing to know Jesus. I think you’ll enjoy this post.
This post by JD at Missiologically Thinking focuses on taking time to reflect on everything that you’re doing to increase Kingdom fruit. Getting this sort of macro-level thinking to happen frequently is important as we move forward in the days ahead.
Keith at Subversive1 shares about his journey into loving the poor more effectively. This is one area I think house churches are particularly well suited for.
One of the errors I see many rushing into is the tendency to think that just by planting a church, the lost will automatically get saved and discipled. Dave writes at the Resurgence about the need to be a missionary while planting a church, and not getting sucked into pastoring a group of only saved individuals.
“Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows,” (1 Timothy 5:3-15).
Paul in this passage is addressing a situation in the church at Ephesus. Timothy was left to set the church there in order and part of that process in Paul’s mind was straightening out the church’s support of widows. Now I’ve read these verses twenty times or so in the last few months and I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom Paul gives Timothy to lead those at Ephesus. But here’s what struck me the other day: the Church of the New Testament took caring for widows as a serious responsibility.
That sound’s like a “duh” statement, but think about it for a minute. Paul gives these instructions “so that [the church] may care for those who are truly widows.” At the heart of Paul’s instructions is this burning desire to make sure the church can care for those who are really widows. Paul didn’t write these words to show us who wasn’t worthy of care and he didn’t write this in response to an isolated first-century situation (cf. Acts 6:1, James 1:27).
But we have missed the forest for the trees. We talk about who should be on the list but we don’t support any widows. We don’t take care of women who cannot take care of themselves. We affirm the truth of what Paul writes but regularly ignore what Paul was actually doing. All of this is to say that the church needs to be about the things that are on the heart of the Lord. For Paul, this wasn’t just a mercy ministry, it was essential to the Gospel. He wrote these instructions so that we could care for widows well and teach those in our midst how to care for their family. This is part of the church being “a pillar and support of the the truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15). This is something we need to return to.
So…how are you caring for widows? Have you seen a church do this well in the past? In an age of social security and looking to the government to care for us, is this even possible? How would the way churches spend money have to change if this became a reality? Also, please remember Guideline #5.
In an effort to try and keep everyone more up to date about what I’m up to, I’m posting House of Friends’ April Newsletter. It’s hot off the press with some great news about different things the Lord is beginning to do with the orphanages we’ve started in Uganda. You can read the newsletter by clicking here.