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The Purpose

 

There are vast numbers of Christians who are leaving the traditional church and seeking fresh ways to gather around Christ. For the most part this is a silent trend, but it is a strong one.

A recent Gallup poll concluded that each year 4,000 new churches start and 7,000 close. USA Today recently ran a story that said 1 in 4 young people (ages 18 – 30) have left the traditional church. In addition, 1 million people leave the traditional church each year, most of them young people.

The World Christian Encyclopedia recently estimated that there are already 112 million “out-of-church Christians” around the world. The study also noted that more than 20 million adults attend services in home churches each week. Recently, that number rose to 43 million woldwide.

In a report from the Barna Group, evangelical researcher George Barna said 70 million Americans regularly attend or have experimented with a house church at some point- that’s an increase of 8 percent since 1996. “The movement is taking on evidence of permanence,” he said.

Especially with the younger generation, we are now questioning what is really genuine. We are asking the question, “Why do we do what we do in Christianity?” People are tired of lies. People are tired of hype. People are craving what is real.

An attempt to meet in simpler, more genuine ways is becoming the new thing. But the survival and the ability of these simple gatherings to thrive is yet another issue. Without a consistant encounter with Jesus in our gatherings, we will be trading one dead form for another. We need to know what to do, how to do it, and how to undo what is not Biblical. There is a real shortage of experience available in this area. We don’t need more concepts. We need practical truth, which is what this website is designed to provide.

Today, it is very clear that we would rather copy and rely on the traditions of men than the New Testament as a blue print. Unbiblical ways are ingrained in our thinking and in our culture.

Personally, I’ve had somewhat of an advantage. I wasn’t raised in church. I had very few pre-conceived ideas of how the Christian life was supposed to be lived or what church should be like. When I read the New Testament for the first time in 1987, it was very different from the church meetings I was currently attending. It became clear to me very early on that we were really practicing traditions and habits, more than we were actually practicing what God’s Word said. When I would ask pastors about simple things in the Bible in which we were actually doing the opposite, they would answer me with contrived and complicated answers. Something didn’t seem right.

When I went to college in the late 1980’s, the town I was in had somewhere around 30 to 40 families meeting in different ways than the traditional setting. They were getting together in various houses, meeting in parks, meeting in rented community centers, and in many other ways. There was no one on staff, no designated official leaders, and no one was getting paid for anything. Leadership was organic and natural. Those who had gifts of leadership naturally lead. There weren’t any schedules or bulletins. And it purposely didn’t have a name – in order to cooperate with the New Testament example of there being only one church in any given city. However, we all met many times a week for meals, prayer, Bible study, worship, and fellowship. I’d never been exposed to such sincerity before. I was accidentally swallowed up into New Testament body life very soon after my conversion in 1987. I didn’t read a book about it. But I began to live it and experience it. I learned about life in God at an extremely rapid pace. I was only 19 years old when I began.

Without an artificial religious system in place which gives an appearance of keeping things going, what we have in non- traditional gatherings can be very volatile. There is no sign out front to attract new members. There is no advertisement in the yellow pages to make us look established. We don’t have big sound systems with entertaining rock and roll worship to make us look big and cool. All we have is the Spirit of God, a Bible, and each other. If in our meeting efforts we try to mix traditional systems and agendas with the Spirit of Jesus, it will quench Him and we will wither and die, or we will prop-up something that is dead and with no life.

As we attempt to get back to the basics of Christianity, it can be a challenging task due to years of traditional meetings ingrained in our thinking. Even in these new and simple gatherings, we will be tempted to rely on non Biblical methods to “keep the show going.” We don’t have to do this if we do what we ought to be doing in Biblical, New Testament body life.

It must also be said upfront that some of the major points of this website include not only establishing how traditional meetings have actually hindered Christianity, but also how to move on and be successful in meeting and sharing life together in more Biblical ways. It will just so happen that as we attempt to do this, we will often find ourselves meeting in homes for the evening. As I often refer to “meetings in homes” on this site, I am not promoting a home church denomination. Any simple gathering, whether it be in a living room, outside in a park, or in any structure with four walls and a roof, is all the same thing. In other words, this site is not a push for home church only, although as we meet in New Testament ways, we will often find ourselves winding up in the living room.

The views expressed on this website are all subject to scripture. What I’ve written is based on the current light that I have and my current experience at this point in my journey. If anyone has a scriptural basis to challenge any idea written here, I would deeply appreciate it if you would send me an email so that I may revise my thinking. At least, we could begin a dialogue together so that we could seek the truth together.

The website, has been revised and changed many times based on input and new light I’ve received from the church all over the world. Those who know me and walk with me are well aware that my views are always a work in progress and that the goal of my heart is to seek the truth. It is never my goal to be right and it is never to be critical.

What I offer to you is actually a collective experience of what works in New Testament church life. It’s a culmination of my experience, the experience of my peers, and the older brothers who mentored me as a young man. I am inviting you the reader to join us in the on-going conversation of learning and seeking truth together.

I also really hope you hear my heart in these last few qualifying sentences. As you read through the articles, it will be evident that at times I am pretty tough on the roles of pastors and leadership, and on the traditional church. I will be the first to say that a critical spirit is never good, and I hope I do not come across that way. So while you are reading, please be aware that it is the methods and traditions that are the problems, and not usually the people. Most of the time, from my experience, pastors are quality men. Most pastors I’ve met are also very sincere. I’ve discovered that most people are really trying to do the best they can, and walk according to the light they have. However, it is our assumptions, our traditions, and the misunderstanding of roles that have caused so much destruction in the church today. It is not usually the people.

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