Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to the Basics

We tend to over complicate things, don't we?  Cutting away the complexity of our church structures can be a daunting task, but I am convinced that the Lord has given us a relatively simple form of what a local congregation should be focused on.

This form is found in the expression of the New Testament Church as reflected in Acts 2:42-47:

42And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)

We recognize in these verses the essentials of the Church.  The Church was committed to the Apostolic Word; teaching and following the Way of Christ. They devoted themselves to one another in fellowship (the word 'koinonia' which denotes sharing life) opening their homes to one another.  I believe the reference to 'the breaking of bread' is referring to the sharing of the Lord's Table.  Prayer encompasses a broader state of worship.
The passage also reflects an incredible spirit of generosity, not forced, but willingly participated in; not 'communism' but a communal life in which each looked out for the others; (In a future post I will share my views on how giving will be handled in the network).

What was the net result of this pattern of life in the early Church?  The power of God was evident and people were being born again.  

Friends, I don't claim to have it all figured out.  What I do desire is to strip out the excess and get back to 'doing church' the way Jesus seems to have intended.  I can only wonder how our structures have kept us from realizing God's potential for the Church.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Why do we do the things we do in ministry?  What drives us?  In this blog I would like to begin to share with you the catalyst for this vision of the house church network.   

In 2010 I was introduced to the leadership training material produced by BILD International known as the Antioch School.  These courses drove me back into the Scripture to challenge the assumptions I had been making and forced me to reassess those assumptions.  The initial seeds were planted in the beginning Acts course, and by the end of the course on Leaders in the Early Church, the idea had taken root in my heart and mind.   

Before I go on, I should make it clear that there is nothing in this vision shift that comes from any ill feeling towards the brothers and sisters or the ministry at Hope Community.  However I am not sure this vision could be realized in the context of our NH community without alienating some good friends. So it's no accident that the vision coincided with our actively seeking to put our dream of living in Florida into reality.

I believe that the structures of our churches and congregations have reached a point of inhibiting the growth of the Body of Christ.  The vision of Community Faith Network is founded on the principle that the successful expansion of the New Testament Church came about through networks of small home-based gatherings of Christians engaging one another and their communities in daily life.

This might be accomplished within the existing frameworks of current congregations, but only partially.  There are always the elements in traditional congregations which resist the move to community and close relationships, even if that move is grounded in Scripture.  The formal Sunday service and a midweek gathering are enough and if people would just come to those everything would be fine.  Except they don't and it's not.

There needs to be a fresh vision for training up disciples who are able to carry out the mission of Christ of carrying the Gospel to the lost.  

I truly believe that the most effective means of establishing Christians in the Way of Christ is mentoring and training through relationships developed not in classrooms but living rooms; not in large congregations but in family groups.

Please don't think I have it all figured out; I do not.  There are still a lot of unanswered questions and my own uncertainties, but I am excited for the journey ahead.

Friday, August 1, 2014

First steps...

This is the initial post for our vision for a new house church network in Trinity Florida. We will make the move to FL at the end of August, and although the network probably won't be founded until October, I want to begin to share what I believe the Lord has given me for this ministry vision.

I have chosen the name of Community Faith Network to capture the essence of this movement.  

1) it is community based, located in homes and in neighborhoods rather than centralized in buildings with crosses and steeples.

2) it is focused on passing on the Faith, not denominations, programs or institutional agendas.  It is about making disciples and training leaders.

3) it is a network of interrelated house gatherings- one Church led by one team of Ministers of the Gospel and Elders.  It is expansion minded.

This is perhaps a new concept for many, as it is for me, but I am convinced that this is the direction the Church must embrace in the coming era.

In subsequent posts I will lay out the direction for the network and once established, will keep a record of its progress.  I will be as consistent in posting as possible; be patient if you are following the story...