Resistance is futile.
A Nazarene preacher admitted that, while he’s about to teach on the Spiritual Gifts, he’s not so sure that he does NOT believe in Speaking in Tongues, something he said his denomination would frown upon.
A Lutheran minister admitted that he would prefer to allow the Holy Spirit to move in his services, but he is, unfortunately, bound by the liturgy.
A Church of Christ minister admonishes other pastors at a multi-denominational conference that they would be surprised to know how few of their members think exactly the way they’re “supposed” to think and are NOT towing the party line. He confesses that he believes such intermingling among the Body of Christ is a good thing.
While attending a House Church meeting, an older couple described the details of their recent church split. Apparently, many in the congregation are bound to the church traditions while others, like them, have joined with other denominations, seeking more than what they’ve known in the past. This couple chose Simple Church and others are asking them where they went.
A Baptist preacher is terminated because he receives the fulness of the Holy Spirit and starts doing things that are deemed as “too Pentecostal" by his eldership team.
Ten times per month, I facilitating a Bible Study all over the state of Texas. I call the study “Jesus Said" and I’ve been offering this study for about 7 years. Attendees have ranged from high school students to business people. Believers of every mainline denomination have taken part and never once has there been any argument over manmade doctrine. Why? Because we’re focused upon the teachings of Christ. Those who attend seem to love it and I often hear them confess how tired they’ve become of “organized religion” as well as those who consider these gatherings to be “church. "
So, what’s going on?
SIMPLY PUT, IT’S SIMPLE CHURCH
Some call it Simple Church. Others refer to it as House Church, Organic Church and other names. Essentially, Christians are returning to Church-As-UN-Usual, preferring the style of the First Century Saints to the theatre-style religion we’ve been practicing for 1700 years. They’re meeting in houses, conference rooms, class rooms, dormitories, Starbuck's, wherever people will gather to listen. Two or more gathered in His Name is all it takes. Our brethren in the Persecuted Church (China, for instance, where 3,000 convert to Christianity daily) have been waiting for us to wake-up.
We’re starting to stir.
Every eMail I receive from author/teacher Robert Fitts has the following declaration of unity attached at the bottom and it’s one that he has the audience repeat whenever I’ve seen him teach:
“I belong to everything that belongs to Jesus. And everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to me. It's not us and them. It's just us! There's only one Body of Christ! And the problems of the church, the whole church, are our problems. We are the church /and we can do more together than we can do alone. ”
He’s right! We all have the same Father.
That’s either true or it’s a lie.
Researcher and Sociologist, George Barna, released the following findings about the “House Church Movement” in his 2006 research report:
* In a typical WEEK, 9 percent of U. S. adults attend a House Church, roughly 20 million people.
* In a typical MONTH, about 43 million U. S. adults attend a House Church - NOT including cell groups (generally a bolt-on program of a traditional church).
*All told, 70 million U. S. adults have at least EXPERIMENTED with participation in a House Church.
* Focusing only on those who attend some form of church (which is about 43 percent of us), 74 percent attend ONLY a traditional church, 19 percent attend both a traditional AND a House Church, and 5 percent are House Church adherents ONLY.
Barna predicts that within 20 years, this House Churching group - one that he refers to as “Revolutionaries" - will comprise nearly 70% of U. S. Christians, leaving only 30-35 percent (primarily, aging Christians) in traditional church settings.
NOTICE. . . he's predicting that this radical shift will happen WITHIN the next twenty years! Though some may feel this can not be possible, the question remains, “If Barna is right, will YOU be ready?”
WHY ARE WE JUMPING SHIP?
Essentially, I contend that there are two main reasons why so many Christians are moving to Simple Church:
1) Community: Time and again I hear about Christians who complain that, outside the church building, very little “real” relationship actually exists. Though your particular church may be the exception, it is by no means the rule. In a House Church group, a sense of family exists – and not merely once a week. These people firmly understand that they ARE The Church, 24/7, anywhere and everywhere they happen to be. They actually do things together. Families DO things! Though there are ALWAYS exceptions, for the most part, they’re loving it! Some people prefer to be another face in the crowd and choose to remain in traditional church settings. Problem with “blending in” is, statistically, they’re running out of places to blend. Besides Jesus’ example was never to “blend in. ”
2) Developing and Exercising Spiritual Gifts: Though some prefer NOT to delve into Pentecostalism or Charismania, the plain truth is, it’s the fastest-growing aspect of Christianity today. Charismatic services can even be found in Catholic and Lutheran churches. When Christians learn that the Holy Spirit wants to work THROUGH them and that they actually have resident within them EVERYTHING they will ever need for any situation in which they are led by the Spirit, they get excited. They actually WANT to speak in tongues. They DESIRE to heal the sick. They can’t wait to cast out a demon. Though some denominations are working overtime to come up with reasons why they CAN’T do these things any more, truth is, it’s too late. When healing takes place, prayers are answered with regularity, spouses start speaking in tongues and kids begin to utter prophetically, sitting in a church service begins to rapidly lose its luster. For multitudes, it already has.
The majority of those attending Simple Churches STILL have one foot in the Institutional format. For those who might be entertaining an “Us vs. Them” spirit, truth is, “us” IS “them. ”
And “they" are us!
Now, the number that are doing BOTH is shrinking rapidly. Still, George Barna’s research reveals that 91% of HC's are, at present, still merely Bible Studies and 60% do the same things every time they meet.
What does that tell us? Despite the fact that these people are - like ALL Christians - “The Church" regardless of what they're doing, some groups often establish nothing more than mini- church, operating within a Living Room Liturgy, because they know of nothing else. Their activity is based upon their programming; all exposure to Christian ministry has been viewed through the prism of denominationalism and ritualism, no matter how “free” they might have thought they were.
We’re humans. It’s what we do. We DESIRE to serve a God who does things. Sadly, most never experience Him doing anything.
The good news? The chances are increasing that MANY people will eventually experience the moving of the Holy Spirit because (A) they ARE outside the boundaries of traditional church and (B) it’s just a matter of time before they are exposed to His power, simply because they ARE seeking Him. Though a man once complained to me that our January conference should have been billed as “Charismatic, ” truth is, we weren’t about to place God in a box. We’ve just let Him out, after all. The odds of God’s presence being experienced at other conferences, through a new attendee to a home group, or through the ministry of one of the many surfacing traveling Preachers that God is raising up in this hour who are criss-crossing the planet as we speak, are increasing.
The multi-splendored aspects of Christ WILL be released and experienced.
Count on it!
CARE FOR A LITTLE WHINE?
Yes, there will be “whiners" in our midst regarding this issue - Old Guarde types who see Simple Church as the latest new-fangled fad. Oddly enough, every objection to Simple Church can be made against Traditional Church as well. But let's not throw stones.
Some will actually accuse those who promote the Simple Church concept as being AGAINST the local church. Certain people, as you can imagine, see Simple Church as an attack against the professional clergy as much as anything else. As with any situation, there will always be those who just can't see the big picture. There will always be the doubters, the nay-sayers and the wait-and-seers.
In my opinion, it's time to think outside the edifice. People are tired of church. God appears to be just as tired. The cloud is moving.
Imagine millions of Imitators of Christ, like heat-seeking missiles, moving about actually LOOKING for Divine Appointments that will allow them to share their faith and pray and BE THE CHURCH, any time, anywhere. . . Sundays’ included.
Satan must surely be scared spitless!
A servant of God
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
His mission is to bring Discipleship and Encouragement to the Body of Christ. Since ‘99, he has broadcast nearly 700 inspirational articles to his online subscribers and a dozen booklets on subjects sure to interest the thinking Christian and accelerate the process of spiritual development. He is the founder of t. e. a. m. ministries. An Author, Pastoral Counselor and Teacher, his eMail broadcasts, known as “Your Town for Jesus" are read around the globe. Subscribe at email@example.com