I recently finished reading The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church by Tony & Felicity Dale and George Barna. This book offers the perspective that the church may be more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ by multiplying rapidly rather than seeking to grow larger. The authors offer both practical tips and a thought framework for launching house churches and creating networks.
Tony and Felicity Dale share their stories of house church planting in both England and the United States. Some of their reminders include listening to God, focus on prayer and to model a simple pattern so that it can easily be repeated.
An outline for engagement in a house church is taken from Acts 2:42 – apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread together and prayer. Each gathering includes conversation, a meal and prayer. None of these are to be the best possible (for example a gourmet chef) to encourage the participation of all. The authors suggest a framework for teaching which involves studying the scripture in a community and using symbols as a guide to the conversation.
Question mark – “something we don’t understand”
Lightbulb – “something that sheds light, either on that passage of Scripture or something going on in a person’s life”
Arrow – “represents God piercing a person’s heart – he or she has heard from God and needs to do something about it.”
The authors suggest that it is important to consider starting new groups with new people rather than assimilating others into existing groups. They suggest looking for a person whose leadership could be key in influencing a new circle of people to start the next group – a “person of peace” (see Luke 10:5-6). Finding this person of peace may be accomplished by telling one’s story as this can be a key opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. They suggest this simple pattern for sharing (pg 135):
What was life like before you became a Christian (or before your faith became real to you)?
How did you meet Jesus?
How has Jesus changed your life?
I found particularly important the reminder that there will be a difficult time of transition for persons who are moving from a more traditional form of church to a micro church. It will not be what it was, nor will it likely be exactly what is envisioned when first starting out.
Many of the themes in this book were quite helpful for those considering the possibility of living out one’s faith in a micro church. Unfortunately, the book did not flow smoothly from beginning to end and there were parts of several chapters that did not add to the advancement of the thesis. Nonetheless, this was a solid book and I recommend it for anyone considering a life of faith in a micro church.
Is internet campus the right name for what we are seeking to do at Resurrection?
I have been leading a strategic project team for 2009 around the following goal:
In 2009, we’ll expand our connection with online worshipers, launch a pilot “house church” using the live web stream and explore opportunities for launching additional campuses in Kansas City and beyond.
I will become internet campus pastor on July 1, with the above goal being my primary job description. I am not sure that the word “internet” is the best descriptor for a network that would include online worshippers and micro churches (house churches) that would physically meet. So here is what I have been pondering in my mind:
Resurrection Network Campus (Pastor)
Network could refer to internet, but it could also refer to a network of physical groups that meet to worship, grow, give and serve.
This week was the first meeting for Strategic Project 5: Internet Campus / House Churches (SP5) at Resurrection. It is a team of high caliber individuals and I am excited about what will come out of our work together. Clif has posted homework for the team at this post – Internet Campus Project Team homework #1
We believe a new congregation is more than a mission project, new worship service or new building. For us, it is a newly organized faith community that is committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and:
includes regular community worship
is theologically Wesleyan
has an effective discipling system
receives new members
demonstrates faithful stewardship
is deeply involved in community outreach
is willing to plant a new congregation in its first decade
Annual conferences will obviously continue to define what they consider a new congregation.
This definition does not have anything to do with numbers or the way that worship is facilitated. I would add to the list one, holy, catholic, apostolic.
I believe that a home, small group or house church would fit this definition and forget about a decade for this type of community to start a new church. I would say within the first 10 months.
On or before July 1, 2014 an elder within the United Methodist Church will be appointed within the Kansas Area to oversee a network of house churches across the state that worship via a live internet stream.
These house church will consist of 12-20 people who meet together for worship, hold each other accountable to discipleship, seek to invite others into relationship with Jesus and watch over each other in love. As the house church grows to more than 20 people, the group will form two groups and continue to have the opportunity to grow. Committed lay leaders will be trained, equipped and sent out to create and lead these communities of faith in their neighborhood, town or county. This lay leader will be responsible for collecting money for God’s work, visiting the sick, encouraging and discipling members of the house church.
An ordination track elder in the United Methodist Church will be appointed to the Kansas House Church Charge which will consist of up to 12 house churches. This elder will be present with the house church in worship at least every other month to offer the sacraments of communion and baptism. This elder will also be responsible for the equipping and discipling of the house church leaders. When the elder is overseeing more than 8 house churches, the Kansas House Church Charge will become two appointments to allow the churches to ensure that the equipping, leadership and discipling of the house church leaders is manageable.
would be a catalyst for making new places for new people within the United Methodist Church.
is scalable from the house church to the annual conference to the global church.
could provide a spark to plant churches that would build a physical building.
has potential to help revitalize the denomination.
What is your initial reaction to this potential new appointment?
Thanks to @clifguy for the conversation that lead to this post.