And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
I keep hearing about a new demographic. They are called, “The Dones.” They are people who, though followers of Jesus, are tired of church. They are done with that. Somewhere along the line, they realized they felt like college students who forgot to graduate. They began to wonder when the weekly lectures would give way to “life in the real world.” Continue reading Dones on the Run…But Where? →
Sometimes when I talk to house church folks, they look at me sideways when I tell them that I work closely with traditional churches. I served as pastor of one for nearly four years, even as I con- tinued as a house church rebel—came out of that a bit bruised and more grateful than ever for my simple church leanings. In short, I survived—I also work with a Baptist congregation in the area, pray regularly with pastors and attend prayer summits with pastors of “real churches”—wink, wink.
Because of all that, some house churchers act as though I am consorting with the enemy.
I don’t buy that attitude. I mean, really, do we need yet another splinter of the church called “housechurch?” We’re not in competition, here. Let’s face it, there are some folks who aren’t going to do simple church—can’t see why, but it’s true. Could it be that there are people in the world that will respond to the gospel in the traditional church as well as the house church? I’m betting that’s so.
It’s my opinion that preserving the unity in the bond of peace is a top priority. For that reason, I encourage house churches to encourage traditional churches. The Summit network has, in the past, helped a struggling small-town congregation financially. We’ve sent encouraging notes to congregations and visited local churches as a group to encourage them (that nearly backfired when the church we visited thought we might all be potential new members. Oops.) Most recently, it was the privilege of one of the fellowships to use some of their pooled funds to help a local pastor with a scholarship to the annual Prayer Summit.
In spite of the fact that we have grave doubts about the paradigm we call “the traditional church,” that shouldn’t keep us from being supportive of our brethren who labor within it. There is much work to be done on behalf of the kingdom. We can do it more effectively if we build bridges for the task rather than burn them.
Summit Fellowships may take different forms. Generally, they will fall into one of these four types. Note, however, that fellowships often fit into more than one of these categories during its life. For example, it would not be uncommon for a group to start as a friendship group before developing the characteristics of one of the others. Here is a brief description of some styles of simple church.
Friendship Summit: Primarily a group of friends who gather for the purpose of fellowship, conversation and camaraderie based upon the shared commitment to Christ. Many groups may go through a “friend summit” period, but it seems wise for the group to generate an “outward bound” attitude at some point to avoid becoming a club.
Precept Summit: As the name suggests, this kind of fellowship will have as its main purpose the spiritual and character development of the members. This group will recognize their need to build a firm foundation for their faith and practice. Such fellowships will focus on the Bible and study skills; devotional life; and practical application of faith principles. I would recommend,
- Basic Bible study, such as the ALPHA Course, Blackaby’s Experiencing God or Gordon Fee’s How to Read Your Bible for All It’s Worth. There are numerous online tools for becoming familiar with scripture as well. Many of these would be useful resources.
- Sonship Study: These interactive materials have been used to help believers gain a clearer understanding of what it means to be children of God. Sonship Studies have resulted in the planting of small group churches both in the United States and internationally. These studies are not curriculum driven but are facilitated discussions based on relationship.
Missional Fellowship: These fellowships understand their purpose to include reaching into the community with practical expressions of the love of Christ. They tend to be outward in their thinking. A missional fellowship may form around a central theme or interest that is evident in the community, such as music, theater or other defining characteristic. They also may choose to be part of the support network of existing mission organizations. Such groups are often evangelistic in their focus.
Parish/Village Fellowship: Similar to a Missional Fellowship except focusing on a geographical community, such as a neighborhood or district. A village fellowship is typically comprised of members who live in close proximity to one another so they can be readily available as a group to serve their parish and its people.