Wednesday, March 28, 2007

breaking news... the gathering is not dead

i have been thinking a lot since new orleans and even during the trip. i have been really trying to figure out my current spiritual journey over the last 3 or 4 months. i have been on quite the roller coaster over the last two years. i think your wife leaving you for her personal trainer (got to love 24 fitness) can have that affect on you. (just thought i'd be blunt and let the world know, just in case you did not know) wow. i really did not think i was going to be so blunt and open as i started writing this post, but oh well.

we had a great meeting at pablos house on sunday night with a group of people that had been a part of the gathering and some who even began to follow christ through oikos. we were discussing the launch of the house church network. we even had some other people who have been having similar thoughts about church and what it looks like biblically. as i looked around the room, i saw a great group of people that have never left each other, even though we officially ended the gathering. these people were at the gathering and have continued to meet, read scripture, pray for each other, support each other and be a faith community even though we had no official name to gather under except jesus. so i came to the conclusion that the gathering never ended, it never failed, it was alive and well because i think if i read scripture that the 'church' is not the building, a place or time people meet, a name, but it is the people. if we want to get theological... it is the body of christ. what i saw sunday night was the gathering. it was even more pure, because it was gathered with no agenda but to love god and love people.

we began to explain the vision of the house church network, which is really taking the values of the gathering and emphasizing its original intent of small is better. the groups eyes were lit up with excitement. we explained a desire to live out this passage of the early church...

Acts 2: 42 - 47
They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord's Supper and in prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity � 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

in my opinion and i think jesus would agree, that church was never intended to be about gathering together in a building on sunday mornings to receive a pep talk so i can try and not sin for the rest of the week. the church is about us being interconnected and dependent on each other as we follow christ and his teachings. and as we are interconnected and loving our neighbor as ourselves, other will be so intrigued and desire to follow also. but it seems we value the large, we value hiding in church and not allowing anyone into our business. we value pointing out the faults of everyone around us and not noticing how despicable our own lives are and how full of pride, greed, materialism and hate. all of those things that god does not desire to be a part of our lives. but hey, what about those homosexuals... we need to stop them. shut up and stop being such a prideful arrogant bastard and maybe someone will stop long enough to listen to you tell them about jesus. as we develop this house church network, we strive to intertwine our lives together and take jesus' teaching and allow it to affect every aspect of our lives. we hope to continue stand next to each other as life sucks some time and is great some time. share a drink and cry when it sucks, but celebrate and laugh together with the joys (i.e. our childrens' birthdays, job promotions, weddings, and so much more).

i know i am no where close to what christ desires for me... i need to continue to shed those things that hinder me from allowing god to really use him in his kingdom, but i am glad to know that i finally opened my eyes to see that the gathering is not dead but is alive and well. thank you pablo, sonia, tiffany, laura, armando, james, art, teresa, michelle, danielle, kirby, jon, manuel, and all the rest that still intertwine our lives for the love of jesus and the mission of his kingdom.


Spam Lives said...

Wow. Very, very cool.

-Paul G. Camargo

T-Dub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T-Dub said...

I love your desires and hopes. I pray that you put them into action and let God work through them. One question: Do these goals require a "house church" in order to exist or can they be implemented in whatever assembly a believer gathers?

J-Lou said...

that is a good question young walker. lol. i am sure that they can be implemented in any church setting, but the biggest goal would be to transform a church from an attractional model to a missional model. when the large focus of a church is an "event" that is a weekly meeting that you gather a large group of people together it places a large value on the show. it would take a church to really implement a great small group network that has just as much or maybe even more value than the larger group meeting. so many churches, do not value the small as much as the large. so many resources, time and humnan resources are used to put on the "show" and not put toward people interconnecting with each other. the other aspect is how do you get the people in the local faith community to care about making change in the community. this is difficult when you go to a "church" that is not in your community. so many people drive 20 or more miles to come to a church building for a service. they really do not have any value for the community that they building is in, because there kids do not go to school in the community or care about what types of businesses are started in the community or who is elected. but if a church has that strong small group network and each small group is connected with other small groups in a particular community than they can be focused on being missional in your community. i think the big focus is attempting to try and get people more focused on the people around them than attending a meeting on a particular time and place. we feel the "house church" experience has the opportunity to try and not let other things get in the way of being missional to our community and interconnect our lives with each other. i know that is a long answer, but in summary no the house church is not needed, but those of us think it may be easier to do in that format than the traditional one.

Miss PeƱate said...

Question Mr. Lewis to your response here, do you think this "home group" you guys have going is beneficial and "works" for all age groups? I.e. Your kids, do you think that they can still get the neighborhood mission involvement along w their sunday school criteria, all in the home group?

I wonder bc I think it sounds great but some concerns arise like if this is something that as we get older and see church after church, then desire to be more and more like biblical times- that WE can appreciate something like this but have the biblical background and spiritual relationship to survive this... No?

I may be wayyyyyyyyy off... but it was a thought... so I thought I'd shoot it out there! Blessings!.

J-Lou said...

wendy... that is a good question and something that we are really looking at. each house church group if they have children will make sure that they have a spiritual component (ie sunday school aspect) at each meeting. i think the biggest aspect of the missional component would take place in being and watching parents and older mentors being missional in the community and not creating walls that keep them away from the poor or people who need help. as they watch and take part in small ways i think what they learn in sunday school about jesus loving the poor and marginalized will make more sense, because they experience it and not just hear about it. i remember hearing many stories of jesus doing radical things, but i did not see any stories of people actually loving their enemies. thus, it was tough to do it because i never saw it in a tangible way.

my hope would be to be faithful in passing the stories of faith to my children, but also let them see new realities of these stories lived out in front of them on a regular basis. thus, the goal being that there is not disconnect to actually believing that the bible is a relevant document to teach us how to live. thanks for the question, because that should be my biggest concern as i think about my kids.

and are you going to be able to make it to any of the new coalition meetings. peace.

Jonsey said...

hey, you have a great blog here, i found it through the website. I really like your home church's ideas about the local church and living out church the way it was in acts. I went to Germany a few years ago on a mission trip and they made us read some background information on house churches. I also, after reading the other questions, have a few... 1. What about accountability in Biblical and sound teaching? (though of course this wasnt necessarily a huge aspect of the early church..) 2. What happens when the house church becomes too large to fit in a house?- split? would that cause connections to be weakened or lost? 3. just for wondering's sake, what do yall do with your tithe?