Home Church Help

Questions and Answers

Here are some questions we commonly get from many people. Hopefully the answers can be of some help.

Question:

We are having trouble starting a home church or finding people interested. Or, the people we are meeting with are not very interested in doing anything outside of the meeting time.

Answer:

One thing I’ve learned from meeting in house church for the last 25 years is that just because people agree to meet in a home, doesn’t mean at all that they are doing it for the same reasons you are doing it for. Everyone is not in the same place. Everyone has a different degree of understanding, different needs, or at a different place in their journey. Therefore, you have to accept (as disappointing as it may be) that growth in people (especially growth with groups of people) is incredibly slow.

Most of the time, the people you are currently meeting with will stay the same and they will not change. If they do change, it will be from love and it will be a slow process. The most rapid kind of change in people occurs when you have a larger group with a strong culture of the Spirit of God among you coupled with lives that are intertwined and knit together throughout the week. This is rare. One of the most difficult things in U.S. culture is to create a dynamic of sharing life together as opposed to only going to church meetings.

Suggestions #1. Move. I’ve moved twice to find true body life or to start something in a city that was home church hungry. It was a huge cost to me and my family, but very much worth it in the long run. There are also a few quality groups meeting in different parts of the country that you could move to and join. If you do plan to move, you can’t assume that just because people are meeting in a home that it is a quality expression of the Lord’s life. Many house churches are either stiff and lifeless, they are trying to have a “church service” in a home, or they have over-reacted and don’t do anything spiritual. It is so extremely rare to find people who want to worship in Spirit and in truth AND share life together. There are a few places though that I am aware of who are practicing this. Option #2. Don’t move, but keep opening up your home, inviting a couple or two over for supper, put your name and number on the home church search websites (Worldwide House Church Registry, Simple Church dot com, House2house.com, Meetup.com, etc), pray, and be very, very patient. It is extremely difficult to get anything going if you live in a small town.

The current group I am with now was started from scratch (God did it, not me). We built a website, kept inviting people over for supper (not to start a “home church” – that is too scary for people, but to just have supper, love on them and pray for them). It took a few years to grow it, even living in Houston with 5 million people. I’ve only seen success in growing larger groups in big cities or in college towns. Most of the attempts I am aware of at having any kind of significant expression of home church in smaller U.S. towns are either unsuccessful or they don’t last. Most groups in smaller U.S. towns are going to have 2-5 families and it can be difficult to even have that.  There is nothing wrong at all though with meeting with just a couple of families if the quality is there.

Home church is a hard row to hoe but it is biblical and worth it in the end. You will have a much better expression of new testament church if you can stay with it, but it really takes vision, patience, forgiveness, and a lot of love to get one going from scratch. People are not inclined to attend a house church even though it is the only way to meet that is in the bible (not in a home necessarily, but the way the meeting is conducted and the dynamic).

There was a season in my life when I was very alone with no “home church people” in site. My wife and I attended a quasi-traditional church for a while. After you’ve seen the true nature of the church it is difficult to tolerate any kind of traditional setting. We never bought in to the structure there, but we did develop a few good relationships and frequently had people over to our house for supper, prayer, bible reading, and worship. Because we were so active yet, we would not become “official members”, we were asked to leave the group after about a year. But some of those relationships continued and it was a blessing.
 
Question:

We don`t have anything specifically for our young people. Do your home churches have a “Sunday School” or anything that is particularly child friendly?

Answer:

As far as kids in the meetings, here are my thoughts and what we’ve done in the past:

As far as the primary shepherding and “feeding” the kids spiritually, I feel it should be done at home during the week and idealy, led by the father of the household. I’ve raised four children myself. When they were younger, I would initiate probably about twice a week a spontaneous spiritual time as a family. I will usually lead us in either reading a short passage of scripture (allowing the kids to take turns reading), asking them about their hearts, and corporate conversational prayer. I always try to lead the kids and my wife into experience, as opposed to just talking about things.

When we do have church meeting times, we’ve done a few different things. During seasons of having a lot of kids, we’ve rotated families as to who watches them all either at their own home or someone else’s house. If the weather is nice, the kids will be outside and be watched by the rotating family at the home of the meeting itself. Whether or not the rotating family taught the kids something was up to them each week. However, not every family wants their kids watched. Many times there are families who, out of conviction, want their kids in the meeting times and require them to be still (training to teach a four year old to be still in a meeting is done at home during the week). I remember meetings when the entire floor was covered with small kids, all sitting very quietly coloring or just listening.

Other things we’ve done is to have the kids in the meeting time, but to make sure we include them by having a portion of the songs geared for them. Also someone would bring a short message that was focused on the kids. Then, after the kids part was over, we continued the meeting in the regular way with the kids listening and participating at will.

With a smaller group, I would tend to try to incorporate the kids in the meeting time. It would seem a little strange to have just a few kids watched by someone. Try to have some songs geared just for them, and try to include them on any message, or have a topic that the kids could participate in. It’s not a bad thing if even a large part of the meeting time is focused on the kids. That can be good for the adults from time to time.

But again, the main bulk of the kids needs should be met at home, apart from the meeting.

I find that most kids are not disciplined properly at home and therefore it causes problems during meeting times. As a culture, Americans are very reluctant “to break” their children. To put it simply, a parent should require total compliance from a child. This includes outward behaviour and inner attitudes. If a child does not obey or if they are having a fit, their “will” must be broken. How do you break a child? You spank them. And you must spank them hard enough and long enough until they break.

Even among parents who spank, most of them give a couple of gentle swats and call it “a spanking”. All this does is irritate your children and make them mad. You have to make it hurt – enough to where the child is in pain and ready to receive love. Once they are broken, you are to love them with physical affection and restore the bond you have. I am not advocating that you bruise your children or injure them. You should only sting the flesh. Use a very thin paddle.

The reason why I explain all of this is because If parents were breaking their children properly and disciplining them at home, it would take care of “what to do with the children” question many times. The children would be content to set still and listen during a meeting time. The children would be content to do anything you require of them because they have been trained properly at home to receive any and all instruction. The need to “entertain them” and distract them would become mostly non existant.

Question:

How can I find a home church in my city?

Answer:

Always check www.house2house.com and www.hccentral.com. Even if there is nothing in your area, post your own info at those sights and maybe others will find you. Check those sights from time to time, as home fellowships may emerge.

Also, be faithful to plug in with other Christians in your community and invite them into your home, no matter what their beliefs may be. Go with them as deep and as far as they will go. Be hospitable and patient. Don’t try to have a “home church”, but try to have relationships in God, that happen to be in your home.  Eventually, you can open scripture, pray and worship, without people having to get past the emotional hurdle of “attending a house church.” If you end up getting together regularly, guess what? Your part of a house church. Sad to say, good relationships centered on the Lord can take a long time to develop, especially with people who aren’t used to having that.

Question:

We have some relationships in our fellowship that are tense. People are disagreeing and not getting along. How should we handle this as a group?

Answer:

Encourage them to work it out on their own. If there are still hurt feelings, then have a brother or married couple help them through it. Many relationship problems are rooted in unforgiveness. People often have unforgiveness, but they don’t see it in their heart. Or they forgive temporarily, then it comes back. We must learn to walk in forgiveness with one another. Hurts lead to unforgiveness with one another, which leads to more hurt, which leads to more unforgiveness. It’s a common cycle. Always help the two parties to be in true forgiveness with one another. From there, progress can be made. Do what ever it takes to see it through. That’s the most general answer I can give without knowing the specifics.

Question:

What about women speaking in church?  From your book, you seem to be partial to men.

Answer:

A touchy subject. Especially in this modern era and especially in the United States.

A large part of the male language in my writing is because I am male. Sorry about that. But also, to put it plainly, I definitely see the ladies as having a critical role in church life. From the scriptures we can see that women are to prophecy, pray, shepherd and teach other women, and fully participate in the meetings in those ways.

However, it does say in scripture that a woman is not to speak in a church meeting. On the surface, that seems conflicting with “all prophesying,” and with 1 Cor. 11:5 stating that “…when a woman is praying or prophecying…” Maybe they are not to pray or prophesy in a church meeting. I’m not real sure.

As I’ve researched the word “speak”, I am currently of the persuasion that it probably means not to teach as with authority. In other words, “speaking” as in standing and giving an authoritative teaching. I’ve come to this conclusion because of the strong language in 1 Tim. 2:11, 12 saying that a woman is not to teach or exercise authority over a man.

However, I must admit that I’m not real sure with what to do with 1 Cor. 11:5. It says that a woman is not to speak, and the Greek word for speak is….speak. Which means not to talk. So to be very honest about it, the whole topic is unsettled for me. That’s why I’ve not included the topic as part of my writings or the book. I know what my wife and I practice in this area, but with this particular topic I don’t dare stand up and proclaim to the world and say “this is how it is.” I just don’t have much light or revelation on it, so I can’t speak with authority before the Lord.

I do know that it is very unbecoming (in my opinion) for a woman to lead a meeting, change its direction or flow, or to speak with authority. Maybe that’s something I’m picking up in the Spirit that bears witness to the scriptures, or maybe it reveals my true position on the subject, I’m not sure. Nanci and I have agreed that it is best for her to pray, prophecy and participate in the meetings, but not “lead out”, change the direction of the meeting, or give authoritative teachings. She is most comfortable with that. Although, she does lead and speak with authority when just ladies are present. She is a midwife, so she has the capacity to be a strong lady. But it is good with her, as well as me, that she not correct men, put them in their place, or lead meetings. She does not wear a head covering. I’m not sure what I think about all that either.

Question:

You refer to drinking wine for communion. Do you promote the use of alcohol?

Answer:

I can’t say that I promote it. But I don’t think that alcohol is evil. It is men’s hearts that are evil.

I think a little alcohol can actually good for you. You just shouldn’t drink too much of it. Nor should you eat too much. And you shouldn’t drink too much coffee either – which also contains an addictive drug. If someone cannot control their intake of alcohol or Tylenol, they shouldn’t take it. If someone is a recovered addict, they shouldn’t drink.

Jesus drank wine and He drank it with sinners. He also changed water into wine (not watered down wine and not grape juice – the account states that He saved the “good wine until last”) Also, Paul told Timothy to drink it. He also told Timothy to use “a little”, which to me means that it was potent and overuse could be unprofitable.

Especially in the southern United States, many people condemn the use of alcohol, but they don’t seem to have the same problem with being addicted to coffee in the morning, sodas, overeating, or too much T.V.
God is after our hearts. A substance is just a substance. Alcohol is an organic chemical compound; organic chemical compounds are not wicked or evil. And I do agree that the misuse or overuse of alcohol or any drug has always been a problem.  We are not to be mastered by anything.

I love it when Jesus said that “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.”

Question:

How do you deal with differences among the believers on interpreting the Word?  I read your chapter on unity, and you seen to be pretty strong on it.  I realize this is necessary for the health of the church, but there are questions that arise that are not just matters of Christian liberty.  They may be matters of doctrine.  Where do you draw the line and say “I’m sorry, I cannot fellowship with you.”  If there is ONE body, and ONE Spirit, how do we come up with all these conflicting teachings?  In the “traditional” church, usually the pastor would do all or most of the teaching and all other teachers would teach only what he/they approve. Anyone who thinks otherwise is asked not to “spread division” by bringing up differing views.  Sometimes they’re even ostracized or asked to leave.  What would happen in this type of situation in a home church?  You emphasize submitting to one another, yet shouldn’t we all be submitting to God’s Word?

Answer:

Of course God’s Word is the final authority and that is ultimately what any of us are to submit to. The problem comes in when we each think God’s Word is saying something different or when we disagree about what God’s Word means in a certain passage.

As far as ever drawing a line and saying “I can’t fellowship with you”, that should only happen because of unrepentant sin (further explaination below). We all have wrong beliefs and doctrines that are in error, including me I’m sure. All of our doctrines are a work in progress and we have to give each other some room.

I don’t believe the same way I used to even 5 years ago on certain doctrines. A wrong belief is not always a sin. If someone is in error or not biblical in what they believe – in most cases if they are keeping it to themselves, I don’t have much of a problem with the fact that their doctrine is not perfect (in aggreement with mine!). I don’t really have much need to correct them unless they ask me my opinion. As I get closer to people and I am walking with them on an intimate level however, things change. With the brothers who are very close to me, I have what I call “five year conversations”. In other words, there are topics that we disagree on and we re-visit those topics from time to time to discuss them, but these differences are not our focus, at all. Christ Himself is our focus.

Now for a different scenario: If someone holds to a wrong doctrine (in my opinion) I would handle it differently if they were keeping it to themselves as opposed to them broadcasting it or teaching it to other people.

If they are keeping it to themselves, then I may have an occassional talk with them about it out of concern for their own life and thier own faith. I would only do this as the Lord led me, as they were teachable, and as long as they wanted to discuss it.

If someone was actually teaching incorrect doctrine to others in the group, then I would check them. Depending on what it was or “how bad” it was, I or someone else will pull them aside gently and ask them to please hold off on teaching this until we can come of one mind and discuss it among the brothers. If it were a extremely damaging heresy, I may check them in the middle of their speaking it in public. One time a brother said in a church meeting, “We are the body, therefore we are Jesus”. I knew what he meant, but this was a dangerous and unbiblical statement. Immediately after he said it, I said, “Excuse me brother, would you mind re-phrasing that?” Because no where in scripture does it say that we are Jesus.” Now if he had said this in the middle of only seasoned men present, I may not have corrected him in public, I would have done it in private. Because everyone would have known he was wrong in saying it. But because there were young believers present, I had to correct him. So, it depends on what is said and to whom.

We have a men’s meeting in place where we occasionally hash out differences in doctrine. After 25 years of meeting in homes, I see a weekly men’s meeting as critically important. It keeps us in unity. It keeps the group strong in leadership and vision. It allows younger men to be trained in church matters. And it keeps one man from being in charge. How long does it take to come of one mind on a subject? Sometimes an hour, sometimes years. I and the people I am with love each other more than we do our own doctrines. We find this to be an area where the church at large has failed, and thus has spawned countless divisions.

Ultimately, you will need to depend on the Spirit of God to be your guide as how to respond and what to do in situations of wrong doctrine or dissagreements in doctrine.

I said earlier that we should never “break fellowship” over wrong doctrine, just over sin. I want to further explain that a little.

Yes, that holds true as a very general principle, but there may be a case where a group of people are not growing and the Lord would have you move on. So it may boil down to this: How humble are these people you are meeting with?

Everyone you will meet with (including you and me) are off in some way. The Lord is perfecting all of our doctrines and teachings. We all see in a glass dimly. None of us have full understanding or perfect truth. So, as we look at the people we are meeting with, we feel as though we ourselves have more light and understanding than they do. And this may be the case. However, if their hearts are humble, if they are hungry to learn, if they are noble minded and willing to discuss new things, if they have a degree of brokenness in their hearts – then they can learn and grow.

Over the years, I’ve been involved with a few groups which I believed were very wrong concerning certain truths and doctrines. First, I made sure I was loving them first and foremost (my goal was not to change them). From that place in my heart as I would offer a different perspective on an issue or gently teach something that was different than what they believed – their response was not “spiritually humble”. By spiritually humble, I mean that they were not always outwardly argumentive, but they had no “inner heart” to really ponder these things, to discuss them, and they were not really open at all to changing anything. They would either be silent or in some cases they would fight me.

To me, this spoke that their hearts were not really soft and open to the Lord, which is the entire point. A soft and open heart to the Lord is one that realizes that they can be wrong. If a contrary view is shared, an open heart will ponder it and seriously consider it in prayer. (A group can have their doctrines perfectly correct and if their hearts are not tender and open to the Lord, they will not grow either.) I did not stay very long with those groups. Not because their doctrines were so wrong, but because of a hardness of heart to the Spirit. They would never have such an opinion of themselves. These groups were certainly open to discussing “a concept”, but ultimately they were not open to the Spirit changing their own hearts. There is a huge difference in being willing to have a cranial discussion and in having an inner hunger to grow and have more of the Lord no matter what.

I’ve also been with groups that the contrary has been true. Certain areas of doctrine were off or incorrect, yet they were eager and open to learn and grow. I can live with that. I am eager to be knit with and build with humble and broken people no matter how screwed up they are either in thier lives or in thier doctrines. Jesus said that the tax gatherers and harlots were nearer to the Kingdom than the self righteous pharisees.

Practially speaking, love the people you are with first and cherish them. Forgive them continually. Then teach and share by “suggesting” and “submitting” your views. If they sincerely consider your views and prayerfully want to grow, then maybe the Lord is working with them and he has you there for a reason. You will grow too as you stay humble in your opinions and “love first”. But if they are proud, set in their ways, fearful, and resistant to much change – well, maybe there are better ways to spend your time.

I would rather meet with a Mormon or a drug addict who has a broken heart and is willing to change and grow, than with a self righteous Christian who has all of their doctrines straight but with a hard heart.

Question:

If a home church is spontaneous and organic, how do you deal with those times when no one feels like doing church, but they should be anyway?  Do you simply rely on the Spirit to bring you together and just hope that there are enough mature members who will stay disciplined and keep meeting together? It seems like having some structure for the regularity of meeting would be advantageous during these times.
Answer:

As far as being spontaneous, we are spontaneous, but we do have regular meetings as well. In the early days when we were only meeting with a few families, sometimes only a few would show up – which was fine and good and it had it’s purpose. But now, meeting with several families, there are plenty who show up each and every meeting. There is no obligation or expectations for anyone to come. People are free to come and go as they please or not come at all. No one is keeping a score. When people are free, they gather because they want to, not because they have to, which makes for a great experience and expression of life. Although necessary, only certain things can be accomplished in a meeting when lots of people are attending. The real life of the church is during the week with things like one on one lunches, or having just one family over for supper. When 20 families are relating intimately throughout the week and extremely involved in one another’s lives, it makes for a wonderful expression of church life, more than just a meeting once a week can accomplish.

Question:

Concerning giving, am I right in believing that you do not endorse the paying of regular pastors/ elders who do not travel?  What exactly do you believe is meant by “double honor” in I Tim. 5:17?

Answer:

In 1 Tim 5:17 Paul gives two examples of not repaying someone what is due them. One example is an ox. An ox shouldn’t be muzzled while threshing (an old testament reference). If we muzzle an ox while it is threshing, it will hinder the ox and his work. The second example given is a laborer. When a laborer is working, he should be given his reward for the days work.

The point is that elders should be honored. How disheartening it would be for the older, seasoned ones among us who are working hard teaching and loving people to not be respected or honored for their love and labor. The two examples that follow are just EXAMPLES given of what happens when you don’t give what is due somebody for their work. Paul is not saying that we should pay elders, any more than he is saying we shouldn’t put a muzzle on them.

Honor, respect and appreciation should be given to the older ones who are among us and who work hard to love us. If this is not given to them, they would be like an ox who is muzzled while threshing or a laborer who is not paid for a days work.

Especially in light of the entire New Testament example, there is no evidence of paying men a salary to teach us.

Question:

Why do we not see large numbers in house churches? I know that ultimately numbers are not a sign of success, but shouldn’t we at least be seeing more increase than we have as a sign to let us know that we are on the right track?

Answer:

In one way I agree that an increase in numbers and more people coming around does reflect that we are on the right track, in another way I don’t agree with that at all. Here’s what I mean.

The more a message, a system, or an organization appeals to our religious flesh, the more people will flock to it. Any kind of system that is in place that:

1. Has a physical man acting as a king or priest who is taking care of things and that men can look to and follow…

2. Has built within it the ability and opportunity for men to climb some sort of a ladder of success (often an unseen pecking order or even an obvious hierarchy) by performing and achieving…

3. A system that allows us to feel like we are covering our base with God and pleasing Him, and that is seemingly providing for our spiritual needs, but requires nothing of us other than to “show up”…

All of these in place will attract people in droves.

You will always have huge numbers with any program that allows us to establish our own righteousness by keeping a set of rules and proving our allegiance to God (whether it’s bringing our bible regularly, being faithful to show up to weekly meetings, paying our money, etc.) and where ultimately the responsibility for carrying everything falls on a man acting as king or priest.

The Mormon organization has huge numbers, yet we know that they are not on the right track. The Catholic organization accomplishes this as well, again with huge numbers. Islam appeals to men’s flesh because it has a strong system in place of performance and achievement, which people love to measure up to. Hinduism is filled with ritual and with self proclaimed god-men gurus who have all the answers and whom people love to follow. All of these world religions combined outnumber the true Christians, not to mention the Christians who only gather in home meetings. So of course, and as you’ve said numbers alone cannot reflect that we are indeed on track.

The traditional church here in the western world is not much different than the world religions in many ways, along with its programs, trappings, and various attractions which you well know that I’ve written about in detail in other places.

Home church typically appeals to Christians who are seekers, who have grown to a point in their spiritual lives that they are ready to participate and function, who are ready to take on more responsibility in the church themselves, and who don’t feel the need to “be fed” every week by a sermon. Here in the west, this type of Christian is rare because the traditional church system here has largely held people back and has kept people in spiritual infancy.

To say that home church meetings don’t tend to grow very much would be coming from a limited view of house churches only in here in the United States and not from a global or even historical viewpoint. Home church or “meeting in simpler ways” (whatever you want to call it) is currently experiencing explosive growth and large numbers in places like India, for years in China, and recently in Africa. And historically speaking, “home meetings” have thrived and grown very healthily, especially during great times of persecution.

Both historically and currently, house churches tend to be hidden and unknown, which contributes to the reputation they have as being in the minority and small. I truly believe that if we could see on some sort of map all of the hidden and unknown house churches and fellowships in existence today and throughout the history of the world, they would far outnumber the traditional western model we’ve only seen in the last few hundred years here in the west.

The reason for there being more growth and multiple house churches in other cultures outside the U.S. is first of all the difficulty these people experience in their everyday lives that we don’t experience here in America. They need each other in all areas of life. They are forced to meet in simpler ways and often. They need God and each other in all areas of life to survive.

House church is an attempt to meet the need we all feel for deeper intimacy and that need we all feel to some degree for one another, and for interdependence in the body.

In our culture, we gravitate toward not allowing ourselves to need anyone. And our traditional churches fit more with the modern Western man’s thinking: “I am an island and the only people I need are paid professionals that I hire in certain areas. I will pay a school to teach my children, I will pay a doctor to heal my body, I will pay a shrink to heal my mind, I will pay a lawyer to help me legally, I will pay a baby sitter to watch my kids, I will pay a gardener to take care of my yard, I will pay a preacher to lead me spiritually and teach me the Word of God. I will pay a financial consultant to tell me what to do with my money.

This is not the way the Lord has intended for us to live. If we only had each other, the church, if we only had our brothers and sisters, we would share life together out of need, and look to the Lord together for all of our needs and with great spiritual benefit. It would not work to attend a meeting once a week and pay a professional to teach us and call that “church”. We are designed to live and share life together with the church in all areas – which is where most people who “home church” are coming from and have realized.

The church has always thrived during difficulty, persecution and hardships. Christianity is designed to work that way. It is very difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God, but very easy for the rich to attend a weekly meeting and listen to a sermon.

We also do better as Christians being knit with a smaller group. There is more intimacy, better accountability, and often more joining of hearts that occurs in smaller settings. If I am right in this, then perhaps “God allows” his remnant to stay small in pockets, in order to maintain the quality He is after.

I had to say all of the above because it’s true and definitely part of the equation. But now for the part you are probably more asking about.

I agree with you, we should be growing! Whether that’s multiplication into many different homes in order to maintain small groups, or whether it’s just one group getting bigger. Yet, I agree that many times we do not see this happening. Anything healthy will reproduce. Even here in the West with all of the given problems and bad foundations I’ve mentioned, the life of Christ will overcome all obstacles and we should be increasing in numbers.

Many times in house church settings there are other problems which do not encourage increases in numbers. These problems are not just related to obvious cultural things I’ve mentioned already, but are different problems.

Quite simply, the key to growth is the life of Christ. If there is no life in the meetings, people will not come. If there is the life of Christ in the meetings, over time, and as Jesus builds it, the right kind of people will flock to the meetings. Fervent love for one another and the life of Christ in our meetings are the best evangelism tools we have. (John 12.32, John 13:34, Acts 2:41-47)

Now of course if there is life in the meetings it will drive some people away, and that is not always a bad thing. Rebels, religious people, legalist, people with hidden agendas, etc. will be repulsed by the simplicity of Jesus Himself in our midst.

But the life is the key to growth. And few home churches flourish because they don’t have the life. Traditional churches flourish because they have other things to replace the life. I am speaking generally. There are home meetings with the life of the Lord and there are traditional meetings with the life of the Lord, but it is very rare to experience quality in most Christian gatherings – any Christian gathering. Whether it be a traditional meeting or a house church meeting.

When I speak of quality, I am referring to again, the “life of Christ in our midst.” If you walk into a gathering of saints, His life is unmistakable to the humble, to the seeking, and to the broken.

What is the life I’m referring to? It is difficult to describe it, but let’s just say that “the life” is Jesus Himself manifested in our midst. This is not a charismatic emotional experience I’m talking about. Although His presence is often undeniable to the emotions.

Several reasons for this lack of life in meetings:

1. The group has never had their compass set toward life. They don’t know what to look for and they don’t know what they are missing. When groups are thoroughly leavened with the life of Christ, anything but the life of Christ will stick out like a sore thumb and be corrected and checked quickly.

But most groups have never had the life of Christ demonstrated. They’ve never experienced the corporate life of Jesus in their midst. They don’t know what it’s like or how to open to the life of Christ corporately, so they are only left to flounder and guess or do whatever it is they do every week. They’ve never had a “bucket of pure life” dumped on top of them. This is most easily accomplished by a gift to the church, what I call a human starter kit, a catalyst, or what the scripture refers to as the gift of an apostle.

2. Most Christians do not do what it takes to open to and experience the life of Christ in their individual lives on a daily basis. They’ve not been trained to do so. They remain conceptual only. They live shallowly, but they rarely are encountering the living God in their moments. So when they come together with others, the song remains the same.

3. Groups have not and do not practice the discipline of corporate prayer where they learn to “minister to the Lord.” This activity can be observed being practiced in scripture by the early church. I’ve written about it in the chapter called “Well digging groups and Establishing a Beach Head”. This is where the group sets aside time to taste of the pure seed of Christ and open to the Spirit of life together without the traffic that meetings, teachings, and talking can bring.

4. And there are other things that I will only mention like holiness in the life of the believer and corporate holiness together, fervent love and affection for one another, brokenness, simplicity, etc. all these things cooperate with the quality of the life of Christ in our midst. Which in my experience, are all becoming more and more rare in the church at large.

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