Saturday, March 6, 2010

Healthy House Churches

I’ve come across two major groups of house church. Both tend to stand on the extremities of opposite ends. One views and utilizes house church mostly for meeting, sitting, eating and teaching. Evangelism and mission is almost oblivious. These groups don’t deliberate reaching out to the lost or plant churches. For them it takes place only when God wants and so they leave it all to Him.

Then I’ve known and heard and met and sat in house church seminars and consultations where for these groups of people house church is a synonym for evangelism and church growth. They don’t bother much about discipling, teaching and consolidating believers in God’s word. For them discipleship means training new converts for church planting. Their popular slogans would be “Plant a thousand churches in a year”, “Indian pastor baptizes 50,000 people in a year” so on and so forth. In fact, in one of the seminars I met with some young men in their 20’s all belonging to a particular state in India. They were being trained to be church planters. What amazed me was that a number of them were fresh believers and some didn’t even know how to turn the pages of the Bible. They ought to have been taught the basic, foundational doctrine first and discipled in the way of the Lord. Planting churches might not be that difficult but what foundation you lay determines the overall structure of the church that is planted. And it largely depends upon the calling, gifting, maturity and experience of the church planter that determines the foundation.

Once there was a house church planter from Madhya Pradesh (MP, central part of India) who was invited to my hometown as a resource person for a house church seminar. Nice guy that he was, I went to him and inquired if it was true that there were people in MP planting and overseeing thousands of churches. He clarified that actually it was a combination of a network of several house churches taken together and not something accomplished by a single person. Sometimes such reports shared by the locals in conferences and seminars are greedily picked up by the organizers and other attendees who then the very next day brings out this supposedly, fantastic news with all these reports in their magazines and newsletters. I wish they were real news and of course I do believe God can do it. But the truth can be discovered when such mission fields are visited in person and every one of those supposedly "thousand" house churches are verified. However when such news are "fabricated" in order to attract potential supporters/donors in the ministry or exaggerated for the sake of promoting oneself and the ministry then the danger is that it will hamper genuine church planting mission. We’ll sit back on our chairs and say, “Praise God, the work is growing rapidly here, let’s move somewhere else” when actually much needs to be done in that particular place. We then focus our resources somewhere else without actually accomplishing the mission in the targeted area.

Both of these two different groups of house church living in the extremities of the opposite pole are imbalance in their nature and characteristics. Jesus, the Head of the Church has given us a simple recipe for a healthy church. “Go…” He said in Mt 28:19. This word, I believe is a commanding word and not at all a passive one with options. Evangelism and church planting is intentional. It doesn’t happen by itself. Then He said, “Make disciples”. Note: He didn’t say, “Go and plant churches”. In fact, there aren’t any commandments in the Bible for us to go and plant churches. The commandment is to make disciples and it is in this process that as we go out and make disciples of people that churches are planted not with a bunch of crowd but with Christ’s disciples. Jesus also added, “…of all nations”. Making disciples of all nations to me speaks of cross-cultural mission, which again is a process that requires intentional efforts. Which ethnic group to reach out to and where to move to, all depends upon keeping our eyes and ears open to the Lord of the harvest and obeying it.

In conclusion, I envision a healthy church as one that is planted and being built upon the true Scriptural foundation (Eph 2:20-22). It’s a church where the disciples love to meet, sit, eat, pray and then goes out and makes more disciples of various ethnic groups in different places thus resulting in planting churches everywhere intentionally.

1 comment:

  1. Hi brother, I live in Canada and have been part of a gathering of fellow believers in Christ for the past 14 years. I've posted a dvd on youtube which can be seen here:

    I've been in touch with a brother that i've recommended to get in touch with you. I have sent him your email please connect with him for the mutual encouragment of your walk in Christ. Thank you

    Timothy Germian