House Churches: Dos and Don’ts

House Churches: Dos and Don’ts

I spent ten years on the journey, seeking to disciple those Jesus drew from our neighbourhood, discipling my own children as they watched and caught the vision of our journey and anyone who came to our home church via meal invitations, social settings and relationship building. It was a great journey until my wife endured a four year cancer journey and we had to put it all on hold. We learned so much about true Christianity, the ministry of Jesus and the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit. The highlight was attending the inaugural world house church conference in New Delhi back in 2009. In four days we got a glimpse of what God is doing globally. It is staggering! Now it is time to pass on some of the wisdom we built up so you can avoid the traps we fell into…

1. Leaving Christendom

Unfortunately the journey from traditional church to underground/home/discipling church is a difficult one for those steeped in the practices of Christendom like I was. It took us about three years to understand the difference. That is why I am writing this essay on the problem so others could understand the different mindset needed to make the transition. It is not a matter of just shrinking the church. It is placing the great commission at the centre of everything you do and creating whatever structure around that that helps facilitate that mission. In the west, mission has followed structure, Jesus did the opposite; structure followed mission. It’s that simple. Once you “get” the mission the rest will fall into place as you wait on the Holy Spirit.

If you can make the jump you will see a whole new world of spiritual growth and numerical growth open up. But you will have to model what you want others to do. You have to master the skills of discipling and multiplying disciples. That is the only type of leadership there is in simple church. Oratory and theological knowledge, doctrinal high horses and positions of power are out. Waiting on God, mirroring the life of Jesus, dying to self, having a passion for souls and serving are in. The Holy Spirit will be in control, not you. Before going any further please read this essay on the rise and fall of the Christendom worldview. It describes where we went wrong in history to get the western model of church.

Now analyse what you have been taught by the modern western church. Does it fit the Christendom or New Testament model? For a more in-depth study of the flow of Christianity through history go to the history tab in my website and read through each century of world history. You will see the slow decline out of New Testament Christianity into Christendom, then recently a flow back into New Testament Christianity around the world! Especially read the two last essays on what unfolded in the 20th Century and is now unfolding in the 21st century:

Many in the non-western world church leadership have re-discovered the New Testament model simply because persecution stops them from using the Christendom model. The result has sped up numerical growth around the world and enabled church leaders to create structures that combine their culture and their mission. Try to think through what model of church would best suit your local culture and mould your structures around that. Done!

2. What to look for in leaders

Typically a home church leader is one who has a passion for souls, has tapped into the heart of Jesus and wants to see Him planted in the hearts of others. If you want to transition to a house church model, seek out these people in your church and begin to train them. In the house church movement it is those who walk closest to Jesus who naturally rise up to positions of leadership, not those who are trained intellectually in Bible Colleges. Evidence from around the world suggests the majority of these leaders will be women as they are real networkers, servants and relational!

Begin to find out what everyone in your church’s spiritual gifts are and encourage them to use those gifts in the worksite and at home, on the street, anywhere. Invade the secular space of your city!

All home church movements must have strong spiritual dynamics within the marriage and family of those running them. Remember Paul’s letters to Timothy on the qualifications of leadership, so much of it was about leading your home well.

Another thing with house church is that people, including leaders, who have been hiding significant character flaws they do not want God to deal with won’t be able to hide in the smaller environment. House church deals with the sanctification of our lives much more thoroughly than larger church does. Leaders spend much more time building godly character than imparting theological knowledge. The result is a bride of Christ that is much more appealing to the wider community.

3. Food & Family!

When we met for house church we nearly always had a meal together. The result was that it was rare not to have a non-Christian present. Hey, who knocks back an offer to come to dinner! It is a great evangelisation tool, and it was central to the ritual of early Christianity that Jesus passed on in the communion meal. He was a master at knowing what would build community. At one dinner we were having once I looked around and there were conversations going off all over the house with people being encouraged, prayed for, built in their faith and loved. At that moment God spoke to me and said, “This is what I want Church to be, a spiritual extended family gathering.”

We also did a lot of Bible study to increase the biblical literacy of our group, which was woeful to begin with. I tried to incorporate Neil Cole’s system (see notes below) but my group was too lazy to do it. I soooo wish I had persisted and pushed them to get there as it would have been transformative. What we did learn is that you do not need any other resource outside the Bible itself, it has all the wisdom you need.

Kids fit into the whole house church scene much easier than traditional church as it is in the home, around meals, with an extended family of sorts. They watch and copy what they see, so if they see the significant adults in their life praying for the sick, reaching out to others, discipling neighbours etc, then they will begin to do the same. That was one of the delightful things we saw in our own children, they brought their friends to Jesus as well.

Super important is the issue of which comes first, discipling or house church? You cannot just shrink the church into a mini-church service in a house. It doesn’t work. Have dinner, argue, discuss, pray for each other, open up your hearts, share problems, vision together for unsaved loved ones and how to grow and duplicate the group, encourage budding leaders to have a go. But try not to preach, it is a killer. It is needed sometimes but not as a habit. Lead by discussion and probing questions. That’s what Jesus did with the group of 12 he was discipling.

Jesus set the perfect example with his house church, they ate together, did life together, became a family, argued, had their characters challenged and refined, watched the master do amazing things, and it lasted three years. That three year time frame by the way is about the limit of how long a house church should last, by then you should have raised up leadership and  duplicated, if not earlier. The whole purpose is growth, not stability. Build that into the DNA at the beginning of the movement or it will stall quickly.

4. Listening to God

Plan, but at the end of the day, let the Holy Spirit lead each meeting, and the vision for the group. Pray for wisdom, words of knowledge, healings, prophecies, encourage all the spiritual gifts in these meetings, especially encourage people to learn to hear Gods voice. To that end here is a great resource and a testimony to the power of the teachings in this website. This is where we learnt to hear God’s voice. This guy, Stuart Grimenz is an Aussie and had a big church and healing ministry. Then God spoke to him and said “do you want a big church or a massive movement?” so he left it all behind, became a chaplain at a jail and made a deal with God. He was not going to do any ministry there that he was not told to do by God himself. The result was 400 prisoners saved in four years. I even met one of them! Anyway here is the link, with a testimony:

http://www.spiritled.com.au/ 

Jacob Phiri is the leader of a house church network in Zambia which has grown from around 40 members to 25,000 in just a few short years. 

“I have taught in various Bible Colleges for 17 years, I regret that I instructed my students in things that don’t work in ministry today. My emphasis was on theology. But after studying with Spirit Led Academy, I have realized the most important thing in ministry is a deep relationship with God. My ministry has taken a new positive turn of imparting this knowledge to so many people. Because people have seen the difference it has made in my life, I have several men and women asking for this course to be introduced in many African countries, especially Congo D.R, Malawi, Angola and Burundi. Mary Wakuruzinza, the first lady, the wife of the President of Burundi is taking this course and she is now doing her final subject.” 

This is the sort of training that will change a nation. The amazing this is that Jesus modelled this for us all through the New Testament but somehow we have defaulted back to knowledge about God instead of knowing him deeply and doing his will, like Jesus did. Learning to hear God’s voice and teaching others to do the same is THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT task of a house church leader, as you can see from the testimony above. As branches, we must be connected to the vine. I am still a learner in this department, and always will be.

5. Other Website Resources

On my website, (www.setfreeseminars.com) there are a number of essays under the “discipleship” tab that would be good to look at. They catalogue a lot of points we learned in our journey from Christendom to discipleship such as prayer, mission, understanding the harvest, healing the sick etc. One essay highlights the prayers Jesus asked us to pray continually for the harvest. Another tab that is full of amazing teaching that is having a big impact on India is the tab that says Victor Choudrie. This is a digital version of his book I bought at that first world house church conference in India back in 2009. Victor is the spiritual grandfather of a mass movement of Hindus into Gods kingdom that has now grown to somewhere between 5-10 million in just over 25 years. Many of the leaders in India, because illiteracy is a big issue, simply teach their people through this book, and then start again when finished! There are many very powerful and solid teachings in these notes that are culturally and spiritually transformative.

The first thing the Indians teach a new believer is to prayer-walk their neighbourhood on a regular basis asking God to expand the kingdom in that area. Most of their leaders are women. They also told me the majority of new believers were coming in through healings and miracles, since Hindus were very resistance to a message-only gospel approach, even here in Australia where I live it is fast becoming like that as well.

6. Neil Cole

At that conference in India we saw that non-western church leaders were bringing hundreds of thousands of souls into the kingdom, while westerners were bringing in just a few, with the exception of one man, Neil Cole. Here is his website.

I have read some of his books. He started out as a Christendom style pastor and began to push further into Jesus, eventually branching out into evangelism and discipling, but with a difference. His movement is now the largest in the western world, numbering who-knows how many as it is untraceable. But it is in the tens of thousands or more. They meet in groups of a maximum of four, reading 5-8 chapters of scripture per day, every day, up-skilling rapidly in their knowledge of God. Then they quickly split/duplicate if a fifth person comes along. The first saved becoming the other leader. Their larger group meetings are always missional, reaching out to a local “Goth” hangout etc. All the time the goal is souls and discipling. His book Cultivating a Life for God explains his journey really well. It may not work for everyone, but it has certainly worked well in the USA. He is the only western church leader I would bother learning from as he has the runs on the board.

Another thing we heard over and over again at the conference in India was the sad story that house church leader after house church leader initially tried to shrink the Christendom church into a house church, but it always failed. Then, after seeking God, they just began to go out and win people to the Lord and disciple the ones and twos. They said their thriving house church movements grew out of the individual discipling process. It did not happen the other way round. They had to get the DNA and purpose right before the structure followed. This is the essence of what Neil Cole discovered as well. It makes sense since Jesus said to go out and make disciples, not start churches. In addition, it is hard to recreate the DNA for discipleship in a traditional Christendom believer, but it comes completely natural to a brand new believer as their world is a series of networked relationships that they can leverage to spread the gospel. Christendom believers have, by default lost most of these relationships and only move among other believers.

That’s probably enough for now! You are on a great journey. You do not need to do more theological studies, but lots of Holy Spirit training. Simple men and women turned the world upside down simply because they had met Jesus and were transformed by it.

So that’s a lot of what we have learnt on our journey. God bless.

 

 

 

Recent Posts

The Christian Coronavirus Crackpots are Coming!

There is a recorded message doing the rounds of the Christian internet space at the moment of an un-named Christian “pastor” who claims to have worked at a high level in Vodafone and makes an incredible series of claims about a dark political connection between the 5G rollout and the spread of coronavirus. We even heard a neighbour sprout the same message last week!

Please do not send his talk about 5G to anyone. If someone talks to you about it please send them the information listed below. The man who spoke is not named but is a prodigious crackpot who dishonours the name of Jesus at every turn in the talk. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, trying to profit from the ignorance of common people. The message comes from a website called brighteon.com, a fake news website and part of a whole cluster of fake news sites that are run by a major conspiracy advocate, Mike Adams.

Counterpoints to the speech in question:

1. He fundamentally doesn’t understand the physics of radio frequencies by claiming the 5G tower roll out is causing coronavirus by destroying normal people’s body cells. What a claim! Truth: As you double your distance from any radio frequency source, its power to impact your body drops by 75%. So usually the biggest source of RF exposure are mobile phones you are using and wi-fi routers in our home. Why hasn’t he told his viewers to stop using these or turn them off overnight. According to his argument, the strategy of getting rid of mobile phones should be the first line of defence to helping his listeners. I find it odd that he says he’s concerned about 5G but then doesn’t have any real tangible science-based recommendations to reduce exposure.

2. Coronaviruses are not caused by radio waves breaking down cells. Yes, radio frequencies can cause the generation of free radicals (what he unscientifically calls ‘poison’), along with increased inflammation and an inhibition of melatonin production. He’s not using any of the actual scientifically studied effects of radio frequencies on human cell cultures, and I think it’s because he has no clue what he’s talking about, because these could really strengthen his argument! There are already 400 known coronaviruses known to us. They all come from animals.

3. 5G has not even been rolled out to most of the places where the virus is spreading. Therefore on this point alone his case collapses. Also, what we currently call 5G is really just a bit higher in frequency than 4G and is largely in the same frequency bands. True 5G in the upper frequency range won’t be rolled out on a mass scale until later when more infrastructure is in place and more devices have the capability to use it. For his argument to still be accurate, this final roll out would kill us all instantly, including the 1% whom he claims is behind this conspiracy!

4. His argument that old people are most vulnerable is plain wrong, Children are more far susceptible to the effects of radiation than adults because of their softer bones, developing bodies and rapid cell duplication. That’s why we try to educate children about the dangers of mobile phones. For some strange reason the speaker thinks it’s the other way around.

5. He is selling merchandise!!! He sells VPN shields and other branded merchandise. He is also taking donations and trying to set up his own currency that he wants you to use. “Trust me. I have the answer! Buy my stuff as it will save you”. This is all very suspicious. He is just like the priests at the temple ripping people off before Jesus drove them out. He has a financial bias in this and should be treated with caution due to his obvious conflicts of interest.

6. Who is “they” he keeps referring to. This is the same old one-world government conspiracy theory flogged by Christians who don’t know how the world works and want to appear clever. It’s been going on for generations simply because gullible Christians have a flawed understanding of the Kingdom of God and the victory we were given when Jesus took authority over the earth after his victory on the cross. I find it instructive that this man says nothing about the salvation of souls.

7. Russia has actually been hiding it’s Coronavirus case numbers. Many countries have actually under-reported their numbers, especially China. Russia’s official numbers have nothing to do with their colder weather as he claims. He very conveniently left out South Korea In his broad sweeping statement of countries and infection rates. This is because they have a completely rolled out 5G system but have very low levels of the virus. Their problem was actually a Christian cult that thought they had secret knowledge and were cleverer than everyone else so they disobeyed the coronavirus warnings. This speaker is just like their leader… “the world is bad. I have the answers. I will save you.”

8. This pandemic is actually the biggest threat ever to the 5G rollout as the resulting decade-long economic depression we are entering will stall all sorts of economic activity.

9. His claim that the Spanish Flu was caused by the invention of the radio is ludicrous.
Spanish flu stayed around for nearly 90 years and became extinct in the late 20th century. It stayed around long enough to be gene sequenced. As a side note Spanish Flu died out because it devolved, not evolved. It was a great example of why the theory of evolution is also a conspiracy theory as it disobeys the iron-clad law of entropy. Everything is devolving (breaking down), including us at about 300 mutations per person per generation.

10. The claim that governments are deliberately doing this is also stupid. Between a conspiracy and a stuff up, always go for the stuff up!!!! Politicians are public servants for goodness sake, and want to get re-elected!!!! A plan for world domination this large and complex would have leaked long ago. Just ask Chuck Colson how hard it was to keep Nixon’s Watergate problem under wraps! This conspiracy is a million times larger.

11. The speaker also states that “evidence” demonstrates that vaccines are making you more susceptible to viruses. He says you can even look up the scientific studies, but then moves straight on to his next wow moment as if this is so self-evident that it doesn’t even warrant any evidence or explanation. Please explain!!!

12. He makes very a dangerous statement that getting tested for coronavirus will infect you with the virus! This is hugely irresponsible and will cause people who are stupid enough to believe him not to get tested and seek treatment when they are sick. He may well be responsible for deaths because of his ignorance.

13. Here we go again…the old micro-chip under the skin theory and mark of the beast! He hasn’t have a clue about the Book of Revelation and what it meant. Educate yourself and just read the first three verses to find out it’s purpose and timeframe for completion.

14. Finally I agree with him…yes coronavirus will usher in a global economic depression!

15. He says “they” want to take over the world’s money supply. “They” already control the worlds finance because “they” are called central banks issuing fiat currency. Sorry speaker, that takeover occurred a hundred years ago. The irony is that this coming economic disruption is so large that their precious fiat financial empire is going to collapse because of this coming depression. We will probably be back on a gold standard within a decade or two because fiat currencies are going to be printed to oblivion. God-backed money is God’s system, not mans.

16. He says the shutting of churches is part of the conspiracy because when we sing in church an electrical energy is released that somehow empowers us and the one world government hates us singing!!! Actually the shutdown of Western churches is a huge blessing. The Western system of doing church in a dedicated building was actually invented by the Greeks and Romans centuries after the Jews started Christianity with house churches. The forced move to house churches in the West means the church now goes underground and spreads to neighbours and friends far faster. House church is the reason why the church is growing much faster in the third world. Get a grip!

17. He suggests this global conspiracy is going to usher in the Antichrist. Sorry to pop his bubble but the term Antichrist is not in the Book of Revelation and has nothing to do with the present or the future. The only references are found in 1John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3 and 2John verse 7. PLEASE read them! There are no other references to the term Antichrist in all the Bible. Antichrist has nothing to do with the future, but the 1st Century readers of John’s letters and simply referred to people who strongly opposed the spread of the Gospel. This speaker has never read these verses and if you too think the Antichrist has something to do with an evil leader lurking somewhere in the future who will take over the earth…you haven’t read the Bible either!

18. The speaker concludes with some ideas about what the Body of Christ can do. Actually it could do no better than to get rid of idiots like this nutter! Who gave this guy a platform to speak? Stop listening to him and educate yourself about our future victory (Matthew 28:18-20). All authority over this earth now belongs to Jesus, not humans. The future will see the discipling of the whole earth. Otherwise Matthew 28:18-20 is a lie! But it’s not, this guy is the lie.

19. Right through the talk this man makes claim after claim but presents not a single piece of hard evidence to back his claims, just conjecture and broad unspecific statements. He is a cult leader in the making, if not already there. He preys on ignorant people who don’t want to think for themselves. If it wasn’t so serious I would have thought it was all a James Bond plot!

20. It is embarrassing to hear this man say all these lies in the name of Jesus. This is so offensive to the Body of Christ and he will pay a price before the throne of God for his deceptions. He also repeatedly mixes New Age “energy”, warped concepts about quantum physics and “electrical” powers with the work of the Holy Spirit. More nonsense and quite disturbing.

He makes me so angry!

Kevin

 

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