Home Church also called Simple Church - A Revolution?



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  • Home Church also called Simple Church - A Revolution?

    Compile and written in part By S. E. Ray - 10/20/09

    Home Church, sometimes call Simple Church or "Organic" Church is a new reformation or migration from the established institution back to the original prototype provided for us in the book of Acts. For the transistioned, it is a re-definition of the "church" as a Christ-centered organism comprised of the faithful gathering to realize its deeper purpose in both God and with other members of the spiritual body.

    George Barna is interviewed on CBN "The 700 Club" about the findings in his recent book
    "Revolution" reviewing Simple Church. Copyright "700 Club" All Rights Reserved.

    The term "simple" is used to denote the pragmatic characteristics of the home church in comparison to the complicated and demanding characteristics of many traditional churches. Simple church removes the need to factor in a building, programs, staff and a pastorial payroll, but rather allows those same funds to be used for local and foreign missions. Also, members of the body are able to assist fellow members financially, where otherwise, the funds would have been channeled into the institution to support its infrastructure. Individual tithing now becomes again a means to support the work of advancing the Kingdom as it was done in the original church.

    A simple church may meet anywhere, with or without seminary trained leaders or "clergy." Although, it is common to find leaders stationed in groups with traditional training and experience. The purpose of each group is to facilitate relationship, discipleship (spiritual formation), multiplication, mobility, and member ownership. Traditional church "programs" are virtually nonexistent, replaced by small group participation which is absolutely essential. As the movement grows, a greater degree of cross-group accountability is being implemented to assure leaders adhere to the biblical standard in purity and truth.

    From a cultural viewpoint, The house church context provides a unique environment for the study and application of God’s Word. When you have 10-20 individuals gathered in close proximity, it is different than speaking to 1,000 people in an auditorium or even 40 people in a classroom. The house church provides a great opportunity for people to ask questions, to develop their understanding without fear of reproach, to share what the Holy Spirit is saying to them, and further develop their personal walk within the context of a close knit spiritual family.

    "When We Come Together" courtesy of House2House Ministries
    by A Karis Publishing, a house2house production.

    New participants at first may find themselves feeling vulnerable, whereas after spending years hidden among the church numbers, they will suddenly find themselves accountable in a very real sense. The dynamic of this fact alone has spurred many believers to grow more in a few months, than years in the organized church. Simple church will not appeal to the apathetic, it is indeed a spiritual vehicle for the serious believer who intently pursue the high calling in Christ.

    Many reviewing this movement have reasoned that since they belong to a small home group, which is an extension of their corporate church, it is the same thing as simple church. In some ways it is, and in many other ways it is not. There is a greater sense of responsibility when a group of believers are each directly responsible for the condition of their small spiritual family. It is difficult to explain apart from experiencing it firsthand. A participant quickly understands that their personal relationship in Christ directly affects the primary whole. In time, this generates a deeper striving to become more Christ-like as to be a positive contributor to the overall health of the spiritual organism.

    In the traditional institutional church, it is the practice to escort the children and teens into a isolated location as not to interfere with the adult church. Most simple church groups will have the youth participating as a family whole. Again, like the early church, it is about family growing together, sharing together and exploring the deeper spiritual dimensions of God without fear or intimidation. As the children witness adults worshipping and praising God, even though they often appear uninterested, they will often share simple yet profound thoughts that will stagger the adult listeners.

    In contrast to the organized church, who may plant a new church once every few years or never at all, the simple church will, as a growing cell, split into segments frequently as it matures . This is an important aspect of any thriving and living organism, where if there is no perpetual growth externally, there will be a settled for stagnation internally. This is true regarding any aspect of the human dimension. In the same manner, if a newly divided cell does not result in a new healthy independent, it will quickly dissolve and be absorbed by the supporting body for progressive assimilation as opportunities present themselves under the Spirits leading.

    From a cultural viewpoint, postmodernism's (seeker friendly) emphasis on relationship has enabled contemporary people to reform their ecclesiology, replacing the institution of church with ideas of spiritually-related family. Postmodernism's deconstruction of modernistic spirituality and culture has also led to deconstruction of the traditional church, helping pave the way for the simple church. Simple church has also been influenced and motivated by overseas missions and the growth of church planting movements thriving in China, NIgeria, Cuba, Vietnam, India, among several other nations.

    World Serve Ministries has created a brief video that outlines typical
    conversion rate and home church growth in other countries.

    From a cultural viewpoint, The Missional Movement has equally influenced the formation of simple church. Missional thinking grew from the lessons learned from foreign missionaries and as a reaction to the Church Growth Movement. This mindset provoked the Body of Christ to consider all humanity and to fulfill the Great Commission by reaching the lost. For many simple church practitioners, their model of church aids in completing the missional mandate of God by being highly mobile, easily adaptable, and fundamentally indigenous. As with the institution, simple church knows that its vitality depends on its scriptually mandated outreach. A small group that does not seek to grow out will eventually grow stagnent within.

    While simple church in various forms has been practiced since the inception of the early church, it has been a minority movement that has received little notice. In recent years, the growth of the movement as it becomes more missionally focused, and the adoption of simple church by various missions groups, missionary societies, and parachurch organizations, has led to increased visibility. News coverage by specialized and mainstream media is becoming more common as the numbers continue to grow. There is an estimated 20 million active participants and it is growing exponentially every week. George Barna statistics report that within 20 years, the trend may encompass well over half of Christendom.

    Scriptural Leadership: The leadership structure of most Simple Church bodies are based upon the "Charismatic Communities" as denoted by the undisputed Pauline Epistles. Paul was the accepted author of seven letters, among those which include: Romans, Philippians, Galatians, Philemon, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, First Thessalonians. The Pastoral epistles although traditionally ascribed to Paul, are historically ascribed to a later writer due to many differences compared to Paul's undisputed letters. The writer was possibly a follower of Paul, but whatever the association, they used the common practice during that era of using another’s name to gain acceptance of one’s own views. This possible motive and action renders these letters as pseudepigraphic. Unlike Paul's seven letters, the Pastoral epistles call for a ecclesiastical heraldry of deacons and bishops, and discourages a woman being in authority. This is quite unlike Paul when he hailed Junias (“Junia” is the female gender and accepted among scholars due to papyrus P46, several Latin, one Coptic and a Ethiopic manuscripts) as outstanding among the apostles in Romans 16:7. Paul also honored Phoebe as a deaconess (diakonos) in church of Cenchreae, and hailed Dorcas and Lydia of Thyatira. Paul's letters celebrate the church as an autonomous body governed by the people, the hierarchical structure comes from the Pastoral epistles. Simple Church returns to autonomous structure.

    Other Website and Blogs Worthy of Your Research:

    Simple Church Harold Behr in Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon
    The Parousia Network Cyber Cafe in Spokane, Washington
    www.discipleship.co.za in Gauteng, South Africa
    The Church at Matthew's House in Oceanside, California
    Simple Church Network in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    www.housechurch.com is reported as a cult in Indiana to avoid - Details Here.

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