Leading Like Jesus
We must remember that Jesus is the head of His church—and we must treat Him as such. As A.W. Tozer asked, “Is Jesus Lord, or merely a beloved symbol?” Does He have the title but no power? Is He the true head (see Col. 1:15-20)?
The answer to these questions has shaped and transformed most of those who are part of the simple/organic church movement, particularly when it comes to leadership. In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus essentially says: “You know how leaders in the world rule and exercise authority.” We do—it’s hierarchical. “Not so with you,” He continues. “Whoever wants to be first must be a servant and slave.”
In God’s kingdom, servants are leaders. God trusts leaders who have died to their own ambitions and desire for limelight, and who are looking to lay down their lives—no empire building, no control and no glory. Leadership is functional, not positional. And within the context of the church, a leader equips others for the work of ministry (see Eph. 4:12).
Keep It Simple!
Complex things tend to break down; simple things are easily reproducible. Within the house church movement, simplicity applies to everything. If we want to see multiplication, we need to model patterns that ordinary people can duplicate. The Bible is our textbook—our authoritative guide for faith and practice.
This especially applies to meetings. By basing our times together on Acts 2:42, which stresses getting into the Word, fellowship, food and prayer, we enable every member to participate. First Corinthians 14:26 says when you come together, everyone has a contribution to make. Everyone is important—including children—in this practical outworking of the priesthood of all believers.
For example, our church recently gathered around a “build-a-salad” meal. Many shared what God had done in their lives that week. We broke into even smaller groups to study the Bible so everyone could participate and pray for each other. A young man who was with us for the first time was profoundly moved and surrendered his heart to the Lord. We ended the evening by baptizing him in our hot tub.
Mission Is Crucial
God has chosen us as His ambassadors in this world that desperately needs Him. Jesus told us to make disciples; churches are the natural result. Many people won’t darken the doors of our church buildings, but they’ll talk about Jesus if we go to them. Some describe this as liquid church. Just as spilled water flows everywhere, when we go out rather than inviting people in, we can reach into every crack and crevice of society.
For example, a long-standing men’s prayer meeting decided to meet in a coffeehouse rather than their home. The very first week another customer noticed them and asked for prayer, and they introduced him to Jesus. In the next few years, as more customers became believers, up to 50 gathered there. For them, that was church.
In Luke 10, Jesus commanded the 70 to pray and to go. He told them how to recognize the person He had prepared. An encounter with a God who meets people at their point of need gave the disciples the opportunity to talk about the kingdom.
These principles are being used to start simple/organic churches here in the U.S. as well. If someone becomes a believer and we bring him into our church, we soon Christianize him. Yet we’ve only won one person. It’s more effective to meet with him and his friends and family and to watch a church emerge in the harvest.
What About ...
Believers unfamiliar with house churches typically ask about the logistical side of things, such as:
What about finances? With no overhead, house churches have little need of resources, and most give away around 90 percent of their finances. For example, the Association of Home Churches in Killeen, Texas, has been able to give away more than $1.5 million to missions and the poor since its inception in 1992.
What about kids? Children are as much a part of the body of Christ as adults, and they love to be included. They can suggest worship songs; the older ones can read Scriptures; they can lay hands on people and pray for them. Remember, they don’t have a junior Holy Spirit.
But they are kids, and there are times when other activities need to be arranged for them. Jesus knows their needs and will guide you on what to do.
What about heresy? History shows that heresy usually starts at the top where strong leaders have influence over many. Revival is usually a grass-roots phenomenon. The danger is minimized in simple church because everyone accepts Scripture as their authority. Though each house church is structurally autonomous, a strong relational connection with other churches in the region helps prevent problems.