Over at Kingdom Grace there is a good conversation going on having to do with house churches. My church growing up had grown out of a house church, and when they started getting bigger they also decided to branch off to plant another church. One particular quote that struck me was from Alan Hirsch who said, “Often our small groups in our houses are run like mini-churches, aren’t they? We do the same thing we experience on Sunday, but it’s just bad. We have a mother and son combo on the guitar, and the Bible study is never quite as good as the pastor’s sermon. It’s a back up. It’s just mini-church done badly.” Andy Moore in the comment section of the article echoed Hirsch’s statement when he suggested that “meeting in one another’s homes is [not] necessarily transformational…our thinking is still dominated by our past ideas/experience of what church ‘is’. Too often, as the quotes suggest, small gatherings are worse than large ones, because they are simply the same format with lower production values!”
What will help to make small intentional communities more Christlike in their outlook? Eric, a missionary doing church plant work in China, India, and Palestine wrote that he “fights this same battles” of community building because they “try to facilitate ‘church’ among Chinese, or Indian or Palestinian believers and often all we end up with is a bad version of what we do here in the west.” To quote him at length:
“I have been detoxing from institutional church for a year or so now. Our little house church, or family devotional as we are calling it, is sometimes amazing and often boring, but we keep trying. We are learning what it means to be the body, pursuing Jesus together.
Some things I am sure of, if we focus on getting church right, we will fail. If we focus on community, we will fail. If we focus on good singing or “preaching,” we will fail. But, if we focus on Jesus, together, we will be transformed and we will be on the right path.”
Ken likewise argues in a comment that “as our culture becomes more diversified…the church…[must] develop a much more organic approach to mission…whatever form the church chooses to take on, it must be transformational – and I might add missional. Transformational in that our lives are being transformed, and missional in that the lives of others are being transformed. The Kingdom is to be expanding through the organic process of making disciples.”
So the question to my readers: in a missional community, how do we create disciples the likes of which both Eric and Ken have talked about above?