THIS IS HIS CHURCH
by Keith Giles
It was just about three years ago that a few friends gathered in our den to pray with us about our crazy idea to start a house church. Of those twelve people who came on that first night only two of them are still with us today. Our house church has since been populated by various people seeking a more intimate, first-century form of Church who have found us online or by word of mouth.
Today our group is about 27 people, much too large for an optimum house church according to all the books I've read on the subject.
Wolfgang Simson, in his book, "Houses That Change The World", outlines the 5 stages of organic growth that every house church goes through. He indentifies them as:
1) Conception: the spiritual seed of a new church is conceived. The persons are now pregnant with an invisible church.
2) Pre-natal: during this planning time the church of the future is being discussed and everything is made ready for its birth.
3) Delivery: the time of actually planting the church when it begins to function as an organic entity.
4) Viable growth phase: the church grows and matures by addition and finally reaches the time when the organic growth reaches its maximum point.
5) Multiplication: when the church multiplies itself, or if it fails to do so during the appropriate time-span, usually enters a spiritual menopause and starts to die.
Our house church, The Mission, is currently somewhere between phase 4 and phase 5. We are at a maximum point in our organic growth phase. We need to begin praying about when and how to plant another house church out of this one, or we will enter the spiritual menopause phase and die.
My dilemna right now is that I don't know if we're approaching this exit or if we've already passed it a few miles back. What do I do? How do I know? Where do we go from here?
Over the last few months I have been praying about this very thing. I have discussed it privately with several of our brothers and sisters who have been with us the longest. I have sought counsel from people like Frank Viola and I've gone back to read through my house church books to find wisdom and gain insight into what we should do next.
Honestly, I still have no idea what to do.
Earlier this week I woke up around 4am and went into our den to pray about this. As I poured my heart out to God He reminded me of a few basic things.
First, He reminded me that this house church is His Church, not mine. This is not the Keith Giles church. I am very happy to say this, actually. No one who comes to our house church comes here because of my preaching (since I do not preach) or because of my great teaching (because I rarely bring a specific lesson to the group) or because of my books (most of them have not read my books) or because of my blog (most of them don't even know the URL). They're all here because they are hungry for community, for a Spirit-lead Church, and for more of Jesus. Several times over the last 3 years our house church has gathered without me and I know that those are probably some of the best times they've ever had as a church family.
The other thing God reminded me of was that this house church has grown over the last 3 years (almost too well actually) simply because I have done my best to keep my hands off the wheel and allow God to lead His Church and to allow His Holy Spirit to grow His Church as He promised He would.
Sitting in my den this week, at 4am, in the dark, God reminded me of one other thing. He reminded me of the prayer I offered up almost 4 years ago in this same room on that very first evening when our house church was just an idea germinating in the womb of our hearts and minds. I remembered praying that God would do something so amazing in this place that no man would dare take any credit for it.
To this day I look at what God has done to grow this church--His Church--and I am astounded. I see people learning to love others, I see people stepping outside their comfort zones to serve and to share and to give and to forgive, and I am amazed at the way God speaks to us and heals us and changes us and draws us together as a family.
This is God's Church, not mine. He has brought us this far, not me. He will take us through our next phase of organic growth, as long as I can keep my hands folded in prayer, and off of the steering wheel.
Can I ask you a favor? Would you please, pray with me today that I can do this one, simple thing?
I need your prayers and our house church needs a pastor who will continue to allow God to have His way as we navigate these next critical steps in our growth and development.
CURIOUS ABOUT HOUSE CHURCH?
"House Church 101" - Oct 4th, 2008 at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa, CA. This is a free class to explore the basics of house church and to provide resources for those who want to plant their own house church in Orange County.