First, from Leighton at Grace Works. He muses about the form of church as seen in scripture, especially I Corinthians 12:25-27:
...we must remember that our forms and methods reflect what we value in the church. If the central expression of church requires nothing other than attendance, singing and listening from most people what message does that send? Does that communicate that there is equal concern for everyone in the body? Is it right that we value certain aspects of church ministry so much that we don’t have the time or the resources to ensure that everyone is cared for even a little bit?
Looking at this passage it is easy to gloss over it assuming Paul being unrealistically idealistic. How can everyone in the church be equally cared for? It just isn’t feasible. It isn’t unrealistic when we consider that the church in Corinth met in homes. It is easy to understand how in that setting people could have not just known one another but actually had an active concern for each other. I’ve personally observed the sincere and genuine sadness that people feel when one or more of our church members can’t make it because we tangibly feel the loss of their contribution.
Such passages of scripture seem overly idealistic when looking through the lens of contemporary church practice, but if we view it in the context of their actual church practice they are very realistic.
So true. We have experienced this in house church settings and small group settings many times. As Leighton says, it is unrealistic only “ when looking through the lens of contemporary church practice.” We need to allow the Holy Spirit to set the agenda, not our customs, just as we need to do the same in our daily lives.
Over at A Place for the God-Hungry, Jim Martin talks about manipulators. He starts his musings by stating, “The truth is that some manipulate and others love. Manipulators are not loving people because love is not on their agenda. Their agenda is control.” He then lists some observations about manipulators and finishes with this:
“Manipulators do not love others. They use others for their benefit. They use others to draw attention to themselves.”
He then compares that to those who love and finishes with this:
People who love do not need a lot of attention. They are not forever turning a conversation back to themselves.
Good food for thought. Which one am I? And, which one are you? And, most importantly, which one is God calling us to be?
Guy Muse over at the M Blog sums up how to start a house church:
There are two steps.
1) Gather people.
2) Make disciples.
Both are bathed in prayer day and night.
He fills in some, but that's the core, isn't it? Mind you, the “bathed in prayer” part is essential! Otherwise you end up with another social club. I notice that Alan picked this one up, too.
Speaking of Alan, he takes a look at what the Didache has to say about church. He compares that to Hebrews 10 and another early church document, the Epistle of Barnabas. Amazingly, he finds they stress the same thing:
...the instructions were given to all the readers, not just the leaders. (That’s true of Hebrews, the Didache, and Barnabas – all written to and addressed to all believers, not just to overseers, elders, deacons, teachers, prophets, apostles, etc.)
Should we still expect these same types of phrases to describe our gatherings? Is it still the responsibility of all the believers, or just the leaders?
You know the answer :) By the way, the Didache is a great way to expand your knowledge of Koiné; it is similar enough to the New Testament that the vocabulary and syntax carry over. But, because most people aren't familiar with it, they are actually forced to read the Greek. Most people reading the Greek New Testament are only half reading the Greek; the rest is remembered from the English—at least that's been my experience in teaching it over the years...
Well, this post got longer than I planned, but I hope you enjoyed the spin around a few blogs.