For some time, I have wondered why the Lord has placed an emphasis on small groups meeting in homes. (According to a survey by the Pew Forum in 2009, nine percent of Protestants in the USA “hold services” in homes.)
In other nations, the rise of house churches is often in response to persecution. But here? In Christian America?
Esther was married to King Ahasuerus (probably King Xerxes I) “for such a time as this.” She saved her people.
As I survey the Christian landscape, and look at what is going on politically, I wonder if the Lord has been behind the simple/organic/housechurch movement “for such a time as this.” It would only take one act of Congress, for example, removing the tax exempt status of churches, for some building-based churches to find themselves fighting for survival. Or what would be the impact of a couple of terrorist attacks in church buildings? Or some strategically planned law-suits aimed against Evangelical convictions?
Thankfully, God knows the end from the beginning.
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During World War II, my father was a prisoner of war under the Japanese. He, and those with him, endured unspeakable atrocities for more than three years. Although I was protected from all the details as I was growing up, it dominated our family in many ways. Looking back on it now, I’m fairly sure he would have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. It affected him for most of the rest of his life.
Today we have troops coming home from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many veterans from the Vietnam War. Yesterday I came across these horrifying statistics. More than 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Every day. That’s one every 65 minutes. It’s more than are dying in combat.
Where in the world is the church? Surely Jesus has an answer.
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I’ve spent the past two years compiling a book on women. Definitely a labor of love! The book should come out on April 1st next year. But now it’s time to finalize the book title.
The main title is going to be “The Black Swan Effect.” Here’s the rationale behind the title, taken from the introduction to the book.
“The term “black swan” was a common one in sixteenth century London. Everyone knew that swans were white, and black swans presumably did not exist, so the term came to mean something farfetched, not real. However, in 1636, a Dutch explorer discovered nomadic, red-billed black swans in Western Australia. All of a sudden, black swans were no longer an impossibility and the meaning of the term changed. There is now a well-known species of black swans, but at first, all it took was one swan to change people’s minds forever.”
Having talked with a number of people, everyone loves the main title and the obvious analogy to women in the church. The help we need comes with the subtitle. Here are some of the possibilities:
The Black Swan Effect: Men lead; women follow? A response to patriarchy in the church (Do you think people understand the term “patriarchy”? “Men lead women follow” is deliberately a simple definition)
The Black Swan Effect: Men lead, women follow? Responding to gender issues in the church
The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church
Please let me know which one you prefer.
Consider the following:
17.6 million adults–1 in every 12–suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence
8% of people aged 12 and older have used illegal drugs in the past 30 days
Every 40 seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide. Every 14 minutes in the US.
The US divorce rate is the highest of any nation in the world
1 in 10 US adults is depressed
There is so much pain in the world. Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed. He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows. We, the church, carry his message of salvation to the world.
Where is the church when the world needs her?
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A recent fascinating article describes an advertising campaign put out by UN Women (a branch of the U.N.) that demonstrates that sexism and gender bias flourish in today’s world. The ad shows four faces of women with some of the most popular Google search terms. For example, on the search term, “women cannot…” the most popular search terms were “drive, be bishops, be trusted, speak in church.”
So I thought I’d check this out. Scarily, it’s true. When I Googled “women cannot,” the popular searches (each search page has eight of the most popular searches for each term towards the bottom of the page) include “be priests, speak in church, teach the Bible, be pastors.” In this search, 50 percent of the issues mentioned were church related. In contrast, the corresponding search for “men cannot” had only one that is church related–man cannot live on bread alone; that is hardly gender specific.
What’s with this?
I find myself almost without words to express my indignation that the church, the beautiful feminine bride of Christ, portrays herself to the world at large in this way.
What a turn-off for not-yet-believing women thinking about Christianity.
Jesus came to set people free. The one place above all, where people should fight against injustice is the church. And yet gender bias is accepted there. (And yes, I know some of you will point to the two Scriptures that apparently limit women, but they not only stand against the trend of the Bible as a whole, they can, with integrity, be interpreted differently.)
How can we change the world’s perception of the role of women in the church?
What do you think?
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“I would have given her [the Church] my head, my hand, my heart. She would not have them. She did not know what to do with them. She told me to go back and do crochet in my mother’s drawing-room; or if I were tired of that, to marry and look well at the head of my
husband’s table. ‘You may go to the Sunday School if you like it,’ she said. But she gave me no training even for that. She gave me neither work to do for her, nor education for it.” Florence Nightingale in a letter to Dean Stanley, 1852.
Florence Nightingale, “the Lady with the Lamp,” was the founder of modern nursing.
The world was the richer for her decision to devote her life to serving others through the nursing profession, but the church was undoubtedly the poorer.
The church misses out when women are not allowed to use their God-given gifts.
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One of the most common communications I get is this: “I live in ——. Do you know of a house church in my area?”
It can be difficult to find a simple/organic church. We don’t put a sign outside our house saying “Church Meets Here.” We’re not listed in the Yellow Pages under “Churches.” Contact usually happens by word of mouth.
The best way I know to find a simple/organic church in your area is via House2House. It has a “find a church” map where if you type in your zip code it will list the simple/organic churches near you. If you already have a church, why not submit your church’s information? You’ll find people contacting you who are looking for fellowship.
But I think there’s a better way.
Most of the people who contact me with that request have been Christians for years. They don’t need to find a simple/organic church where their needs will be met and where they will be well taught. They are mature believers. They have much to give. Why don’t they pray about starting a church themselves?
Don’t know how to start a church? Go to one of CMA’s Greenhouse conferences. Or go through this online 6 week church planting course. The House2House site is full of useful resources and are always ready to help anyone who contacts them.
Photo Credit: Arty Smokes (deaf mute) (Creative Commons)