I have just returned from visiting the Bible College in Dallas, Texas where I studied 27 years ago. During my visit I have a wonderful conversation with the director of Alumni students about our journey in simple church and making disciples for Jesus since studying there. He is on a journey similar to mine and so I sent him a list of some of the lessons Annette and I have learnt over the years doing simple church, and here they are:
You are embarking on a wonderful spiritual journey and one which will be very rewarding. Having been down the same road I thought I would jot down some lessons we have learnt along the way if you are going to do micro church.
1. Don’t start with Christians. Christians in the western world have been indoctrinated into a system of Christianity where they attend meetings and are passive. Most do not know much about Kingdom living and are not equipped to naturally share their faith. Their networks are usually all other Christians. We found that the Christians were very interested in fellowship in small groups because it is missing in the big churches they attend, but not in reaching the lost. They do not know how to make disciples like Jesus asked us to. Non believers on the other hand make passionate evangelists.I would rather be discipling one new believer than have ten Christians attending a meeting. Stage of life is important too. Your natural network will be young families so that is where they contacts will be made.
2. If you do have meetings, do what Neil Cole suggests (he is the only guy who has really cracked the concept of micro church in the western world and seen tens of thousands come to Jesus in a viral network, reda all his books, they are gold) just read scripture and read it deeply during the week, then share what God has taught when you come together. This keeps everyone accountable and takes away the leader/follower divide. Everyone is learning from God. For a meeting format our mentor here suggests the following acronym J.O.Y. Talk about what Jesus has taught you during the week and what he has done for you. Then talk about what he has done through you to reach others through acts of love or spirit led moments of sharing the kingdom. Then share your needs and pray for each other, teaching each other to listen to Gods voice in the process.
3. When you meet, make sure you eat! This was the original communion service and it is a wonderful way to socialise and grow deeper together as a spiritual family. Just do communion as part of the meal, it is natural and normal. We found that at least half of our meetings had non Christians in attendance because we were inviting them to a meal, which they see as normal, rather than a church which is no longer seen as normal. These people were curious and open to the format of what was happening. Some came to Jesus as a result. In others we sowed seeds. The person who led Annette to Jesus many years ago filled half her church with new believers because she invited anyone and everyone home for a meal. We found it a great way to evangelise as it invites them into your space, something that is a privilege these days in our fast food world. it also gives you quality time to talk and pray for them, minister to their needs and have fun.
4. Concentrate on making disciples, not shrinking the church into a mini meeting. This is specifically what Jesus said to do. He did not say go and start churches, but make disciples. If you you make disciples you will have a growing viral church anyway. But if you start a “Home Church” you will not necessarily make disciples. Church is an effect, not a cause. Discipleship is basically doing life with a person till they mature in Jesus. Again, Jesus modelled this for the early church. Just do what he did. My essay on “The rise and fall of Christendom” on my website shows where we went wrong through history when we invented religion.
5. Also in my website is a a digital version of Victor Choudrie’s teaching cards. Victor is the apostolic leader of a network of over 5 million new believers in North India. He, and the other leaders in the network have finally cracked open the northern Hindu heartland for Jesus in a big way. His words are also like gold. The first thing they teach a new believer is to prayer walk their local area asking God to show them who is next so that they can begin discipling another. Most of their micro churches are being started through miracles. learn as much as you can from this guy. He hosted the first ever world house church f=conference and the thing that so many speakers from around the world kept saying was that they tried house church and it failed, then they started discipling and it worked, even in places like Japan.
6. Teach new believers how to hear the voice of the Hoy Spirit, as well as the scriptures. This is crucial, and much easier to teach to a new believer than an older Christian. This was the key to the early church because it took decades for them to get the New Testament. Jesus said specifically that the Holy Spirits role is to teach and guide new believers. I cut through the natural realm and brings heaven to earth.
In the not too distant future there is going to be a very big financial crash in the western world and there will be much poverty and stress in our respective countries. I believe God is raising up this discipleship movement in preparation for a harvest of souls who can no longer worship the god of mammon.
Anyway, if I think of anything else I will send it through.
I will be praying for you. Above all, enjoy the journey
Kevin and Annette Davis