Christian history shows that church has left the ekklesia (the Spirit-led gatherings of the early Christ-followers). Organization gradually overrode the Spirit.
Today, many Christians want to get away from tightly organized, institutional church services and experience more freedom and spontaneity. This desire has helped create a movement toward “house church,” where people meet in private homes rather than in church buildings. However, here’s a fallacy in the “house church” movement: A change in location doesn’t automatically mean setting aside human control. Without a change from human control to Spirit control, the location of a gathering is insignificant.
When many Christians attempt house church, the focus is still on one person teaching or preaching. In other cases, they try to make the meeting more participatory by getting people to share, but they still have one person at the helm, controlling and/or facilitating the gathering. In both of these models a human being (instead of the Holy Spirit) is in direct control of the meeting.
Another problem with house church is that when the focus is on developing relationships between people, we can be distracted from focusing on the living Jesus and His direct leadership of gathering. However, because ekklesia focuses on Jesus and lets Him lead, the people have great relationships with each other.
I’ve attended numerous “house church” gatherings where either 1) people just hang around and fellowship with no real leadership, or 2) a leader controls the meeting. In the first one, there is plenty of freedom, but nothing to pull everyone together. In the second one, although a leader gets everyone’s attention, he or she assumes control of the meeting. Even when the leader tries to facilitate interaction and sharing (with the best of intentions), he is still in control and often directing who shares. This unintentionally limits (and/or shuts down) the Holy Spirit’s freedom to prompt who He wants to speak.
The #2 type meeting also puts people on the spot. It can require them to share when the Holy Spirit may not be telling them to. It can also prevent them from sharing when the Spirit is telling them to. Many house church meetings are a combination of the two.
I was once in a type #2 gathering where people were being called on about a specific topic, but people didn’t feel free to share prayers, spiritual gifts, or other things that Jesus might put on their heart. Afterwards a brother came up to me and shared a vision that he saw during the meeting. It was really powerful and would have taken the meeting to another level. But we missed out on that because of the unintended results of having a facilitator instead of letting the Spirit directly control the meeting by encouraging people to freely obey His promptings.
We need to train Christians to hear and obey the living Jesus when we gather in His name. We need to give them the confidence that Jesus is going to use them in the meeting and the freedom to openly obey His promptings.
Is some who
Learns to listen to
And then do
What Jesus says.
This understanding explains why the early disciples spent so much time in prayer and fasting, along with caring/sharing. Our “Homestyle” gatherings should reflect the practices of the Apostles teaching and not the “religion” we left behind. Humble shepherds will take note of this sharing of thoughts from Steve.
Humility is the key, Sonny!