As I am in the beginning of the church job search, I cannot help but wonder what the church was like in the days of the apostles. In the lifetimes of Stephen, Paul, and Peter. What was the structure? What was the theology? Did they have all the answers to all the major questions, Heaven & Hell, Suffering, Destruction, and Pain. From what I have read and very shortly studied, they did not have all of the answers or for the most part know what they were doing. At the times of the early church they were merely beginning their journey of christianity. Therefore, they did not know what to say on any of these major issues, in fact the leaders of the then House Church spent much of their time seeking out the advice of Paul, Timothy, Peter, and many other leaders in the Christian movement. But even then the leaders would seek out the counsel of the scriptures. True refuge was found in the God-breathed scriptures and these scriptures became the center of who they were, the decisions they made, and the way they acted not because they were told to do so, but because what they were doing was for God. Although they may not have had all the answers they did have the answer that matter, that being the fact that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to save the lives of all of humanity from the crippling sin that was at the center of their lives.
After truly thinking about these ideas, I have come to the realization that there is something very organic and natural about this model. The fact that nothing got in the way of them truly sharing the gospel to other people because they just realized that it was their job to do so. They felt the urgency of the story they were telling and the fact that if you do not choose to join in then, you will no longer be in eternity with Christ and his followers.
Something very organic in nature reminds me of a program that we have been holding for a couple of years now at Emmanuel and I have just been given the opportunity to be a part during my present internship. To give you all some background, Cell Groups are the names of our student led small groups. These small groups consist of a leader, co-leader, and prospective leader as well as as many friends they can pack into their house. Lessons are established ministry wide for each of the 10 weeks of the semester and are provided for the leaders. The leaders then essentially lead the group of people through the lesson and eventually preach the gospel message to, hopefully, a group of unchurched people.
I had the honor of visiting a cell group for the first time and I really was able to see the parallel between the house churches Paul was setting up in the New Testament and the Cell Groups that are taking place today. These are merely a group of people, leaders included, who do not have it all together and aren't trying to. These are just house churches that have leaders that long for their friends to be in relationship with Christ and they will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Although the leaders may not have all the answered, God has equipped them with the tools necessary to preach the gospel to their friends. (I will speak about what I believe to be these tools later this week so stay tuned).
God is leading his church, not through huge productions and fancy lights, but he is leading his church through people who are willing to admit they don't have all the answers, but that they merely know that God is alive in them and they want to share that hope with as many people as possible. I pray daily that I am one of those people and I plead with God not to harden my heart because I am distracted by everything else. We are called to be the church, not a building, but God's people sharing the hope, love, and grace we found in the true living God, Jesus Christ.
till another Day,