Mega Church or House Church Networks: Part 2/ Heart and Hospitality


Welcome back. You belong here.

In PART ONE of this Two Part post titled, The Mega Church and Home Church Networks: Twin Trajectories and Why We Need Them Both, I wrote the following:

The first [Mega Church] trajectory needs excellence and resources to launch and heart and hospitality to succeed. The second [House Church Network] needs heart and hospitality to launch and resources to succeed. [More on this in my next post].

One of the reason corporate leaders and corporate churches don’t get mission to the emerging culture is because they have resources and a need for a certain kind of excellence. Google guru, church planting advocate, and friend, Mark Weible, told me of a church that wanted to get onto the Myspace band wagon.

So far so good.

But, he told me, they wanted to hire a designer to really make their MySpace look good. You know, “Excellent”. I know that a lot of you reading this are chuckling as I’m sure Mark wanted to. I can”t remember the rest of the story but I think Mark was able to gently explain that this would lack the “authenticity” Myspacers have come to expect. The social networking hub, Myspace, doesn’t work because of professionally designed sites. Myspace is 16 year olds going crazy with self expression. Not a Madison avenue advertisers trying to sell a product.

If you’re a slick advertising company smart enough to use the tool, we won’t know it ’till you already got us. On the contrary, social networking works because of, well, social networks, not slick looks.

One question I ask leaders of Christ following communities and Church Planters is this: If you wanted to reach 20-50 people this year or month without reference to your budget, building, membership or staff, how would you do it in your context?

In the end, it will always come down to remembering how to build relationships again. We need to learn how to become a part of the world of friendships again. This is the primal sphere of:

How to take a village
How to create opportunities
Resourcefulness versus resources
Passion verses budget
Risk taking versus excellence
(Luke 10. Acts 16, 19)

This trajectory requires heart and hospitality. I think this is where both Mega Churches and House Church Networks need to go. It’s not just Mega Church leaders that can hide behind “busyness” (a heavy counseling schedule, mapping the assimilation process, preparing a big mailer, etc). House Church leaders hide too –just behind a smaller desk, a heavier “secular” work load, and fellowship activities. It isn’t the resources or lack of them nor the need for excellence that keeps both Mega Church and House Churches from reaching people. We fall inward on each other because, while we’re busy “fellow-shipping,” we forgot that there are other people out there that matter to God.

As you know, the word hospitality comes from two words: stranger + love. Hospitality is the love of strangers, of the outsider, the alien. I once asked a group of leaders of a very small church what kept them from fulfilling their self-identified calling to reach the outsiders, those who’ve not yet followed after Christ. “We’re so busy doing church stuff,” they said, “that we just don’t have time.”

So, as an experiment, we canceled “church things” to create the space for reaching the unreached. Nothing changed. Why? Because with the extra time, the men all began to do the chores around the house they had been neglecting. They cleaned their yards, organized their garages, etc. Their wives domesticated them with ease. The lesson seemed simple. Reaching unreached people was on their minds but not their hearts. Or maybe, the unreached were on their hearts, like they are on the hearts of so many Mega Church Leaders and House Church leaders. Our lives just aren’t wrapped around them yet.

The point here is that structure isn’t the fundamental problem or solution with regards to reaching the west. The fundamental issue is what and who do we love? Here’s a very practical processing question: How do we wrap our lives around those we most want to reach? That’s a question we all need to wrestle with regardless of whether we populate a mega-church of 100,000 or a house church of 8. It is not a given that either one of these structures wrestles with this question better than the other. What do you think? More to come…

See you in the Mystic,

Alex

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61 thoughts on “Mega Church or House Church Networks: Part 2/ Heart and Hospitality

  1. Josh

    hope this doesn’t get to you twice something wnet awry (love that word) with my IT here. There’s no doubt that we’re missing something, the disconnect between what we see of Jesus and His church in the New Testament and what we see around us. the good news for me is that God hasn’t left us to work it out, and the fact of denominations – even so many – signals to me that we can grow in our understanding of Christianity, and for our part we get to look back over a couple fo thousand years of God wroking things out in history. The challenge as I see it is not to make a camp aorund a particular truth, but allow God to build – or perhaps rebuild a cumulative picture of the whole.

    I think the writer of Hebrews points us in a helpful direction when he talks about all things being in submission to Jesus and notes that while this is not totally the case we do see Jesus.

    it seems to me that you might be unfairly characterising all “christians” as being far removed from Jesus example? Maybe this is true, but I know many people who love God and are fine examples of what it means to follow Jesus.

    The other issue for me is that I easily fall into what is a doctrinal issue and that is trying to work out an approach to Christian lifestyle (the pedagogical issue) – kind of “here’s how I want you to live” – separate from the redemptive issues – ie the redemptive nature of Jesus life, death and resurrection – that empowers us to live out the life. Liek the difference between Romans 7 and Romans 8 eh?

    Sorry if this is a bit random its Monday morning here!

  2. well happy monday craig! πŸ˜‰

    absolutely love your terminology about “rebuilding a cumulative picture of the whole” — that’s simply fantastic.

    here’s a thought: what if a lifestyle patterned after jesus IS the redemption? like, what if the “working out of our salvation” (sanctifcation, whatever you’d want to call it) is actually the salvation itself?

    that might sound like a strange concept… let me see if i can describe it a bit better.

    there’s a book called “searching for God knows what” by donald miler (maybe you’ve already read it); if not, here’s an interesting couple paragraphs:

    +++++

    “I recently heard a man, while explaining how a person could convert to Christianity, say the experience was not unlike a person who sits in a chair. He said that while a person can have faith that a chair will hold him, it’s not until he sits in the chair that he has acted on his faith.

    I wondered as I heard this if the chair was a kind of a symbol for Jesus, and how irritated Jesus might be if a lot of people kept trying to sit on Him.

    And then I wondered at how Jesus could say He was a Shepherd and we were sheep, and that the Father in heaven was our Father and we were His children, and that He Himself was a Bridegroom and we were His bride, and yet we somehow missed His meaning and thought becoming a Christian was like sitting in a chair.”

    +++++

    point being that the writers of the bible rarely talk about following jesus apart from a relational metaphor of some kind. (the book explains it in much more detail, and i highly recommend it.)

    likewise, perhaps the process of growing in our faith is more like a lifelong relationship with a spouse than praying a certain prayer at a singular point in time, or deciding one time when you were 6 to sit in a chair — maybe the process of learning how to live like jesus IS our redemption.

  3. Josh…

    Happy monday”??????

    the wording comes from being a bureacrat – a curse for some but who knows…. You might be on to something in that there is no such thing as Biblical faith without actions of somekind, I guess though it hinges on the nuances of what gives rise to what. Paul for eg talks abut obedience that is the product of faith (Rom 1:5 amd 16:26) which gives the idea that obedience springs from faith whiel James places works (actions) as the hallmark of faith.

    I did by Donald Millers book while I was in canada recently but have yet to read it so I’ll drag it off the shelf. And the idea of realtionship – living and ongoing as opposed to a retrospective on a crisis event is right on the money, although there was a point when I wasn’t married to my wife and then I was, and the journey began. Similarly there is a point at which Jesus becomes lord and all else folws from that initiation of relationship.

    Great chatting with you about this stuff.

    C

  4. aren’t all mondays happy? haha

    i was serious about your wording — i love it!

    that’s a great point about the a delineation between once being not being married and then being married. i absoultely agree that there’s always choice involved in who/what we love/follow.

    although, just for the sake of discussion, sometimes i think it could be more like the difference between what it’s like before and after you fall in love — much harder to tell EXACTLY when the transition actually took place. i think that’s much more akin to my experience, personally.

    can’t wait to hear what you think of “searching”!

  5. Josh

    I can’t wait to hear it either. I’ll need to think it through, although as a starting point I found the lead up to the wedding a little unbearable – can you have degrees of unbearableness? More n this later I think.

    there is a guy over hear who used mathematical set theory to explain the faith journey that people experience. He used the idea of bounded and centred sets to explain two modes of faith experience. the first draws boundaries and explains people’s relationship to the set on the basis of where they are in relationship to the boundary. The centred set explains whether people are “in or out” on the basis of relationship to the centre. The application is that Jesus is the centre so in-ness or outness is explained in terms of trajectory toards or away from Jesus. Interesting eh?

    C

  6. Liz, Jon, Craig and Josh:

    I’ve enjoyed following your conversation. I have some thoughts for you but I’m trying to decide whether or not to comment here or to make a new post. I’m in Brazil right now. In fact, I leave for the States today. I’ll jump in later.

  7. c — if i understood anything about math, that would probably be very helpful. lol

    you got a blog on here, btw?

    alex, we’d love to hear your thoughts, of course! i wondered where you were… thought it was a little quiet ’round here… πŸ˜‰

  8. Josh

    literature major here too…it hurts my head to talk maths. really new to this so no blog. Kicking off a church planting initiative here in Australia and will have a website up soon.

    Alex, I’m looking forward to your thoughts as well.

    c

  9. Hey guys,

    I know it’s been a while since I posted, but the conversation has been great.

    Some thoughts on the “secret” and why there might be a disconnect between Jesus’ manner of life and what we see today. For that matter, why there might be a disconnect between the piety (in the sense of right living) of the Apostles and the weak christianity (b/c what we see does not merrit a captial “C”) we live in now.

    Paul says in his letter to the Romans (chapters 6-8)that our union with Christ frees us from our bondage to sin. Therefore we are called to live lives that reflect that freedom. That does not mean that there will be no struggle with sin (ch 7). In fact, before we died to sin through Christ, we did not struggle with sin. We sinned and we liked it. Now we do struggle with sin because for the first time we can struggle with it.

    The “gospel” I was always given growing up was that “Chrstians sin everyday and in every way.” Furthermore, that is supposed to be a good thing because it means that we are not God. Salvation means that we get to go to heaven… that’s it.

    That is sooooooo far from Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 15 that it could be called blasphamous. Pauls says, in response to those who claim that there is no ressurection of the dead (semi-Gnostic), that the proof of the ressurection is found in the fact that Christians DO NOT sin everyday and in every way. He says that sin gave us our death sentance and our freedom from it is proof that death will not hold us. In the same chapter he tell us to live sober (or alert) lives and to “stop sinning.” In Galatians he tells us that we are free from both sin and the Law and then commands us not to return to bondage. Jesus Himself said, “If the son sets you free you shall be free indeed.”

    My thought is that we do not see Christians living holy (in the seperate or distinct sense of the word) lives because we have become convinced that the Kingdom is only to come instead of realizing that we are Kingdom citizens both now and forever.

    So my fellow country-men (in the truest sense) in the words of the Beatles (not so great theologians but sufficient for now) “Live for today!”

    For His Kingdom
    Your brother and fellow citizen
    -Jon

  10. Just read my post and realized I forgot to clearly state my thesis:
    The secret is not something hidden in Scripture. Scripture is plain on the issue. The secret is a Scriptural truth that we have hidden so as to continue in sin more conveniently.

    Thoughts?

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