Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Churched Christians

In my view, starting a house church with Churched Christians does not work. Trying to gather people who have left their church because they were dissatisfied (I call them Churched Christians) is an exhausting and impossible task that will wear out the leaders for very little benefit.

  • Christians who have been in a church for many years have been trained to be useless, so they struggle when the support programmes that they are used to are not there. For the leaders, meeting their unrealistic needs is an impossibly exhausting task. There is usually very little fruit because the problems are too deeply ingrained, and the people are unlikely to change. Meeting all these needs is beyond the capability of a house church.

  • Churched Christians who leave their church often carry spiritual baggage that they have not dealt with. They tend to blame their problems on the church that they have left, so they find it hard to handle them honestly.

  • Churched Christians often have a critical spirit that they developed by critiquing sermons, pastors and worship. They bring a tendency to watch the leaders of their house church to check if they are up to their standard. This is exhausting and debilitating for the leaders.

  • Churched Christians have high expectations of what a house church will deliver for them. They expect exciting worship, deep teaching, and solutions for their problems when things go wrong. They are intolerant of a performance that does not meet their expectations. Unrealistic expectations push the house church into attempting to do everything that the megachurch does, but on a smaller scale. This is impossible. A house church has a different ethos, and it should operate in a different way. Churched Christians struggle to understand and adjust to this new way.

  • House churches often struggle to share the gospel because Churched Christians have never learnt how to do it. This means that the house church tends to grow by attracting more and more disillusioned Churched Christians. This is a recipe for disaster because it just aggravates the burden of the house church leaders.

  • Most Churched Christians cannot get beyond the idea of having a single pastor who will serve them. They push the leaders of the house church into becoming a one-man band leadership style, even if they are trying to avoid it. This leaves the leaders exhausted because they are trying to do everything that a megachurch pastor does, but without the same resources. Worse still, they are usually trying to do it in their spare time, because they are also working for their financial support.

The following are essential for the functioning of a house church.
  • Plurality of leadership with balanced giftings is absolutely essential. It is hard to achieve, but it is better to wait until you find the right people to work with than to be exhausted by being pushed into the one-man-band-leadership role. Given human nature, this will inevitably happen, if it is not built into the DNA of the group.

  • Most members of a house church should be new Christians. They are much easier to disciple because they do not carry church baggage. If they are discipled effectively, they will grow quickly, and will soon be able to disciple others who have chosen to follow Jesus, so leadership in the church will grow.

  • New Christians will have lots of friends and family who are not. They will be easy to reach with the gospel because they will see the change in the friend/family member. Churched Christians usually have no non-Christian friends, so their reaching out with the gospel tends to be artificial.

  • Understand that worship and preaching/teaching does not add much value to the Kingdom of God. If people want teaching, plenty of good teaching is available online (just help them to find it). If they want corporate worship, they should go where it is done well, but they should understand that it is not essential for the advance of the gospel. Trying to provide these in a house church is exhausting and achieves very little value. The focus of the house church should be on discipling the people who have chosen to follow Jesus; teaching them to hear the voice of the Spirit and how to follow his leadership; teaching them to work with others, especially in pairs and to connect with others. If a leader of the house church has a need to preach, they should get out into the marketplaces and do it there where preaching the gospel belongs (the experience will probably kill the desire).

  • House churches should grow by sending out the best leaders as apostles to establish a new house church in a different place – most will not want to go, because it is hard. Those who stay will have opportunities to step up into leadership roles that will stretch them. I describe how this works in Apostolic Way. When a house church divides in two, divisions and criticism are inevitable, especially if many of the people are Churched Christians, because they will expect a decline in the services that they receive and feel dissatisfied.

  • We need to get beyond the Sunday meeting model, as it is exhausting for the woman who hosts it. I think we need to move towards working more with people who live near to us and doing their discipling with them in our daily lives.

No one has been honest about this, but the house church model practised in the western world is flawed. Although the motivation is good, trying to do everything that a megachurch does in a house church is exhausting for dedicated leaders. I think it is better to wait for some people who want to do something really radically different than trying to run a mini house church that is trying to do everything that a megachurch does, as it does not work.

More at Twelve Steps.

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