It seems obvious really, the mission of the church is to bring the Kingdom of God to people just as Jesus did. Invite them into discipleship as followers of Jesus. This mission is the reason for the existence of the church. If the church is not carrying out its mission it does not really exist as church.
This the challenging message I got from the one day conference on House Church organised by the Rhein Maas Church network of house churches on 7 November. The speakers were:
* Marc van der Woude of Joel News
* Jonathan Fokker, Church Planter
* Steve Hill of Harvest -Now
We were challenged to envisage church as Jesus formed it with his disciples in Luke 10. He sent them out in twos without a bag, a spare coat, money or sandals, to go as people of peace. This is a lot different from the way many have experience the traditional ways of being church. We expect organization. We want to know who is in charge, what's the line of authority. But Jesus works with a completely flat organization. He who has all authority in heaven and earth, called his disciples friends. (John 15:13-16 NIV) So the reality is that we are all priests, Jesus is our Lord, we are all friends.
So the church is built by going out to the people, to the houses of peace where hospitality is offered, respecting the authority of the head of the household, laying a foundation of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Then leaving for the Holy Spirit to build the church. This is the opposite approach to many traditional churches where new believers are drawn into the church organization and subculture under the authority and under the control of the hierarchy.
But Jesus did not say, 'tell them to come'. He said, 'go'
We did not talk much about how to "do or be house church". Rather we were considering the nature of the church through its mission. New believers should be out on mission immediately. Jesus did not spend years with his disciples sitting on school benches making sure they had their theology all straightened out. He went on the road with them as a bunch of friends. Doing and learning together. The training and dealing with character issues took place as Jesus discipled them on the road between villages. How this works out in detail in practice varies from culture to culture.
So we need to get out of our comfort zones and shed our religious subcultures. And make a fresh start with Jesus in the lead and see how he wants to build us into church.
My rough notes of the day are here.