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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,
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