We have been looking at the house church movement happening in many nations of the world today. We have been specifically examining the apostolic-prophetic house church and some of the qualities we see in such a church and in any movement involving these churches.
We have seen:
1> We will start being the church rather than doing church
2> Church will be holistic, touching all of life
3> Churches will be financially secure
4> Churches will have plenty of good leaders
Let’s look further today…
5> Churches will meet in ready-made buildings. Instead of having to built, buy, or lease buildings or places to meet, house churches use what is already available in abundance and free: homes of every kind and shape. We simply use the existing houses and their facilities to multiply the church and impact a community and city.
6> We will see a new quality of conversions. Most traditional churches organize around outreach and evangelistic programs in order to get more people to attend the church. By research statistics the retention rate of traditional evangelism indicated that, on average, only one in a hundred who make a decision for Christ in evangelistic meetings, rallies, conventions, or crusades will actually start attending a church. Even fewer will remain attached to a church and become mature, reproductive believers. That means Christians lose ninety-nine out of one hundred new converts. Not only is this costly in terms of money and people, it also speaks of a very low quality of the conversions produced through such activities. Instead of encouraging individual spiritual seekers to pray prayers, such as ‘Repeat after me to invite Jesus into your heart,’ apostolic-prophetic house churches allow much more relational conversions, often of whole families and households as we see in the Book of Acts, and they create built-in support to help each other grow in their faith after conversion.
For a quality conversion to occur, we need personal repentance (resulting from conviction of the Holy Spirit and godly sorrow), personal faith, personal infilling of the Holy Spirit (Baptism in the Spirit), and water baptism. Operating very differently from the rushed atmosphere of evangelistic rallies and follow-up meetings, the house church provides the natural framework for such personal attention, and so improves the quality of the conversions, reduces problems in the church generated by half-baked conversions, and improves the overall quality of the church in a locality.
7> We will eat and drink together. Jesus told His disciples not to go door to door (Luke 10:7). yet, the foundation of many evangelistic activities include door-to-door strategies. This has very serious consequences. In Luke 10, Jesus sent His disciples two by two, without money, to find “a man of peace” in a village. He said they should enter this person’s house, forming an immediate nucleuus church with the third member. Then they were to eat and drink whatever was given to them.
Eating and drinking is a very significant means of identifying with a new group. If we appreciate what they serve us to eat, our hosts might appreciate what we have to say. Many Christians today take their own food with them when they enter a village or community for outreach. But if they don’t trust that the people in that community will provide them with clean, healthy food, how can they expect the people to trust them (or their God) with their eternal lives in return?
In many societies, hospitality is a God-given task; if strangers come to a village and knock at a door, it is the task of that family to host them. If, however, those strangers are seen leaving the first house and knocking on other doors, the villagers have only two possible conclusions: either something is terribly wrong with the first house, or the strangers are, in fact, not guests at all, but salespeople, criminals, or members of a cult. In either case, the visitors might win a few people for some time, but ultimately they will lose the village.
Evangelistic door-knocking usually involves knocking at a great number of doors in order to end up with a small handful of people. Apostolic-prophetic church planting usually works the other way around; it moves from the few to the many. Finding and staying in the right house is one area where the apostle’s gifts are needed; it is more important to find and stay in the right house than to knock on the doors of many houses. By first establishing a quality house church and by giving peace to the house, we gain a foothold for winning and discipling the whole village or city.
More again next time…