June 27, 2007

i am not a supporter of house church(es)

I have often times been asked why we believe in the "house church" model. I don't. In fact, I try hard not to use that phrase any longer. As a model, it is as full of flaws as any other. But I guess I am still a strong proponent for this not as a model as much as the result of my theology and convictions.

There is one reason why I highly value the way we have chosen to function: sustainability. I mean this in many ways:

  • it's economically more sustainable
  • it's sustainable in the sense that it is not personality dependant on one individual and therefore can continue to exist and evolve even as "leaders" and other participants change
  • it's also more sustainable on an environmental level, making use of space that already exists rather then building/renovating another is important to me
  • it enhances the use of resources for justice and mission by cutting down, if not completely eliminating, overhead
It's also more just in the sense that it allows more participation by many. Because of the economic implications, the marginalized and the poor can have greater access and more prominent voice. They also have a greater opportunity to initiate something more "organic" (to use Neil Cole's language) themselves rather than be dependent upon an ecclesiastic system that by and large does not advocate for them at times. I know this is not true across the board but seeing as the poor are one of the most mentioned subjects in Scripture their access and interaction within ecclesiastic structures/models should be a priority I am thinking.

As well, what my experience in recent years has provided that my previous experience did not is a slow detoxification of three things: 1-the identity of a leader, 2-our idea of fulfilled mission and 3-the identity of a congregation.

For me, it has challenged my own dependency on authority and false ideals of success. It has provided an empty canvas for us to think more creatively about how we participate with Jesus and his kingdom. It has also provided ample space for those that have participated in community with us over the years to consider their action rather than rely on a leader to meet their needs.

While I don't always appreciate the term "house church"???the name is a misnomer for many and implies many things that I don't necessarily want to imply???I do appreciate the response it evokes in many. The phrase itself seems to be received as a threat to many peoples' system. At first, it took me awhile to get over that. Now, I appreciate it. I'm forced to wonder, 'Why is this such a threat to you? Why does this raise so much emotional reaction?' It implies, to me, that there is something prophetic about it. So, I have no interest in it as a model but I appreciate, still, the implications of being the church in this way.

... So, maybe I am a supporter.

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