As we look at the changes in society and thus the needed changes in the Church we realize that we really are in a revolution. We saw that those who are dissatisfied with the stats quo, and feel the Holy Spirit calling them to seek for and embrace more, have seven basic passions. These were discussed earlier in the series. They are:
1> Intimate worship
2> Faith-based conversations
3> Intentional spiritual growth
4> A place to serve (servanthood)
5> Resource investment
6> Spiritual friendships
7> Family faith
As a result of these passions we see the the introduction of number of new faith-based models when we think about “church”. Some are ‘macro-models’ – all-inclusive faith communities that address the complete array of passions that lead a person to a Christlike life. Other expressions are ‘micro-models’ – narrowly focused assemblies that commit to genuine growth in relation to one off the seven spiritual passions in particular.
There are four macro-models of church experience we see in the church world today; The dominant force is the congregational form of the local church which is well known by all and has a long history. House churches – some call them ‘simple church’ fellowships – are yet another holistic model. These are small aggregations of people who meet in someone’s home on a regular basis to fulfill the functions of a traditional congregation, especially elements such as worship, teaching, fellowship, and stewardship. To note: these are not the same as the widespread small groups, cell groups, and home fellowships that are spawned by local churches to supplement what occurs on the local church campus. They are stand alone, biblically-based churches that meet in homes.
The family faith experience is a third holistic model, in which the family becomes the primary spiritual unit and pursues faith matters together, with parents and children (and often members of the extended family) becoming a close-knit faith community. The fourth holistic model is the cyber church. This refers to the range of spiritual experiences delivered through the internet.
It is worth noting that the two fastest-growing macro-models of church are the house church and cyber church formations.
But it is the micro-models that are growing the fastest of all. These might be considered the distributed models of faith. These models promote growth in a specific aspect of the seven passions, expecting that the energy released through that focus will motivate the believer to incorporate growth in the the other areas of passion as well.
One of the best examples of micro-models is the popularity of independent worship events that occur throughout the world. Not associated with a specific church or denomination, these gatherings feature one or more “worship gypsies” – individuals like Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, and dozens of regional favourites – who constantly travel to gatherings of believers, playing extended sets of worship music for audiences who had no prior connection to each other. The events are designed to help people connect with God through an intense worship experience. Often, the event leads those who participated to not only upgrade their worship quotient but also get more serious about other aspects of their spiritual life. The event makes no attempt to build a congregation or enduring local ministry of any type. The effort is geared towards getting people to worship God and grow from that foundation.
Other distributed models include marketplace fellowships, coaching communities, and narrowcast Internet-based faith groups, as well as the prolific number of para-church ministries that are generally unidimensional in their focus. A hallmark of such distributed models is that they are not simply one-time events but are part of a larger ministry effort designed to supplement the person’s incremental spiritual growth.