Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why Are We Doing It This Way?

I say I love Jesus and I want to honor Him. I say He is my treasure -- the most valuable person in my life -- but does my day-to-day life reflect this? Is becoming more like Him in love and kindness and wisdom and graciousness and closeness to The Eternal my #1 goal at the forefront and in the background of all I think and say and do?

This has nothing to do with "Simple Church" or "House Church".

Many who leave traditional expressions of church life claim it is to seek a more day-to-day following; one that is not about a once-a-week meeting or a ticket-to-heaven (read: "cheap grace") gospel. These well-intentioned Jesus followers often point back to the structure they left behind as the reason they could not achieve the kind of following-life they wanted. They point to a house church meeting as the only way to really become a true follower of Jesus...but I say this is not true. Millions of people worldwide still attend formal, traditional, even liturgical (gasp!) churches and...are becoming more like Jesus every day! It is also possible to be in a house church setting and not be formed into Christ's image. Arguably it is harder to stay anonymous in a house church setting. I agree house church can be more conducive to responsibility and accountability and community. Structure does matter some, but it's just not central.
If the central goal of one's life
is becoming more like Jesus, then
the type of room in which one meets
with other followers is immaterial.
House Church is not better than other forms of church at forming followers into Jesus' image. The Bible refers to the church as "The Bride of Christ" and I believe Jesus loves the whole bride, not just parts of it.

Worship (honoring God) can happen anywhere.

A large cathedral can inspire awe.A contemporary building can evoke camaraderie.A living room can invite one to intimate community.
If structure does not matter, then why would we embark on this journey of seeking to form a community that, when it meets, does so in homes over meals with friends and new acquaintances?

Any time a new Church is started, a question asked of the new pastors (by a coach, or by a neighbor, or by whoever!) goes something like this: "There's already a ton of churches in this town with plenty of room, why do we need another church here?". The best answer is "Because those churches still have plenty of room!"

There are people in Salem who are not following Jesus but are interested in finding out more about who He is and what it really means to follow Him. These people have preconceptions and past histories which keep them from ever darkening the door of the churches already here. Maybe this new opportunity to follow Jesus will be the salt that makes them thirsty for Jesus' offer of Living Water. Maybe this new expression of church life will be the light that frees them from some sort of darkness which has been holding them captive.

So why a community like this one? Simple: we feel God asked us to, and built us and brought us together for, in part, this current purpose. In this season of our lives, in this place we now live, in this era of our culture, we just feel called by God to offer this particular version / ethos / vibe / brand / style of an opportunity to learn to live like Jesus and be His hands and feet to all around us.

That is why we are seeking to form a community in this manner. That is the only reason we're doing it.

We don't look down on other structures and we don't exalt this one.

We exalt Jesus.

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