Photo credit: Justin Masterson (Creative Commons)
According to the research, millions of people in the United States find their primary place of worship outside the four walls of the institutional building. According to George Barna, this figure depends on how you ask the question, but somewhere between 4 and 12 million people are currently involved. (These groups are specifically not affiliated with any traditional church–ie, they are not the home groups of a larger church.) Whichever figure you pick, the numbers are extraordinary and are backed up by other researchers such as the Pew Forum and Ed Stetzer.
My question is, "What are they doing?"
I suspect that many of them are doing what are friend John White likes to call, "Honey, I shrunk the church!"
They have taken what they have known within the legacy church and just shrunk it down to fit within the four walls of their living room. They have exchanged the steeple for a chimmey and the pew for a sofa.
Someone has been asked to lead the worship; someone else prepares a talk. Another person is responsible for the kids. There is as much of a program as there was within the traditional church they left behind.
This series of posts is on how to start a simple/organic church. I'm really not interested in pulling a group of Christians together to do what they've always done but in a smaller context. There is a far bigger paradigm shift here than just moving location–we might just as well stay in our sacred buildings if that's all we do.
No, the paradigm shift here is that Jesus is the one who is in charge when we get together. He's not just a valued guest; he's the MC. Every member of the body is important and every member participates. Not only that, we are on mission with God. He has a plan for us, and we need to listen to what He tells us and respond accordingly.
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3 replies on ““Honey, I shrunk the church!””
I agree with you that the most important things that should happen in ‘church’ are being led by the Spirit and being focused on mission. But I think I disagree with you a little when you say “we might just as well stay in our sacred buildings if that’s all we do”
Even if the small church is somewhat programmed, the very setting and size ensures that it isn’t as controlled as “legacy church” is. People can more easily interrupt the people who have prepared things, leadership isn’t so imposing, it is easier and less daunting for people to take on tasks such as preparing testimonies or Bible studies and at least people are looking at each others’ faces!
I think it is possible for Jesus/the Spirit to lead even with a level of programming, if people pray that he will, though I agree that it will happen less. I also wonder if the bigger problem may be being too inward/self focused rather than mission focused.
But I agree with what you want to see happen even though I have found it difficult to achieve in practice.
Scaled down legacy church puts loads of pressure on the leader to perform when he doesn’t have the time or, in my case ability, to do what the pastor of a legacy church has. Of course passing the responsibility of their spiritual journey to someone else is lazy but we so aften want to do it that way!
UnkleE, you’re right!