The question I have been asking since we came home from the House Church Summit in India is, "Which of the factors that have produced the incredible results in India are transferable to a Western culture?"
Perhaps the biggest contrast I saw between what happens there and the typical church (whether legacy or simple church) in the West is their emphasis on reaching out and the Great Commission. They genuinely believe that being a disciple is all about going and sharing the good news with others. Their training is all geared towards this truth; I did not hear a teaching that did not include some aspect of it. ("Apostolic teaching is the teaching to go." "All the commands of Jesus lead to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.") Disciples bear fruit, and the assumption (unlike here in the West where we tend to think "fruit of the Spirit") is that this fruit is new disciples, who of course, in turn are trained to make more disciples.
The effect of this emphasis over there is that people are becoming disciples in incredible numbers in a situation where persecution of Christians is common. Curtis Sergeant, who has extensive experience with both countries, reckons that what is going on in India could be even more amazing than the China story.
So what do we do here in the West where everyone has at least had a chance to hear the Good News? I sometimes wonder if the gospel we preach is a "Santa Claus" gospel (come to Jesus and he will give you a wonderful and problem-free life) that enables us to live a passive life of being blessed. However the gospel of the Kingdom (a new covenant experience where our side is obedience–not done out of legalism but out of love for the One who has rescued us from our old lives) leads to an intentional intersecting of the Kingdom with the world through our lives.
Huge numbers of people are moving into house/simple/organic churches all over this country. It is clearly something God is doing. There is no central organization or some charismatic guru who is propagating these ideas. It is the Holy Spirit himself who is whispering the same thing to people all over the country, and as they obey him by moving into their homes, they are finding each other. I believe this is a movement orchestrated by the Lord.
Some of these new churches are very outward looking. However, there is a tendency for them to be more focused on community and going deeper with God. Don't get me wrong. Both of these are vital. But there may be too great an emphasis on our lives together (John 13:35–Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples) and not enough on telling others (Romans 10:14-16–But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear unless someone tells them?). It costs something in terms of convenience and comfort to deliberately go out of one's way to reach out to others.
What will it take for us to become a Kingdom focused and outward reaching movement. Clearly it is something that ultimately only God can do–and there are many stories of individual simple churches where He is doing this. But we have a part to play in cooperating with God.
What will it take for us to have a missional DNA?
How can we become a people for whom the Great Commission is an over-riding passion?