His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Imagine a new kind of church

13 Comments

I have often wondered about what kind of church Jesus had in mind, when He first set things in motion. I try to imagine how the church would look like today, if Jesus had physically stayed around to direct the growth of His church. I find myself looking back to the earliest churches, described in Acts. The church that I imagine looks something like this:

Small groups of people meet in houses. There is no paid staff and there are no church building mortgages or other expenses. Yet there is an offering. The offering from each small house-church goes into some kind of central pool. Whenever an attendee of the church has a financial need, their needs are provided for out of the church pool. And likewise, non-financial needs are also meet by the church, primarily the small group which is really an extension of the family.

I also envision no formal membership process; if you attend even once, you are considered part of the family. When the “house churches” meet, their purpose might simply be to worship God, study His word, and learn about and pray for the needs of each other. This would leave no room for “traditions” (I have a strong aversion to traditions, which tend to get in the way of having a true relationship with Jesus).

Imagine a church whose only purpose is to worship God and help each other. Imagine the magnetic power of a church that is publicly known for lovingly taking care of the needs of those who come to it, looking for help. All “members” of the church are cared for by the church. No condemnation, no guilt, just love. And the “church” would no longer be thought of as a gothic-looking building somewhere, but as a family of loving people. Jesus said that people would know we are His disciples by our love for each other, not by the opulence of the building we meet in.

It seems to me that a model like that would work. Sure there are all kinds of opportunities for unscrupulous people to take advantage of such a model. But that’s where faith comes in; with the faith that Jesus would honor and care for such a church.

In this time of economic turmoil when such a loving, self-supporting church is truly needed; I still imagine, and hope.

Author: CJ Penn

First, my writing isn't about me. Don’t want the attention, don’t want to feed my ravenous ego (yep, I’m just a typical pride-plagued human). But I love writing - it gets me out of bed when it's way too dark, just so I can do some writing before heading off to work. I write because I’m passionate about God, Jesus, His Spirit, and His truth. And, I feel the Holy Spirit gets shortchanged in the world we call Christianity. The truth is sometimes lacking too.

13 thoughts on “Imagine a new kind of church

  1. There is a Church that you hope for that existed today. And that Church name is The Church of God(International).The presiding Minister was Bro. Eli Soriano.
    All the things that you hoped for in the church that what we do. Why don’t you check it out and find it out for yourself. We are now in the Web site.

    God bless

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  2. dove124,

    Thanks a lot. I’ll check it out. When I wrote this post, I felt inside that this type of church indeed exists; perhaps scattered around the world. I see much of this type of church in the small group I belong to. We are very much a family of friends, getting together to worship, learn and pray.

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  3. I lost my religion in the Fall of 2001, and left the church and the ministry.

    And I’ve been on quite a spiritual journey since :)

    A pastor has befriended me recently, and just two days ago I wrote to him that I ‘wished’ for something just like you described…..that God is moving Jesus out of the Church and into the streets – where He belongs.

    This was an encouraging post to stumble upon. It means that there is a new wave of believers rising up and saying, “Look – what we’ve been doing (and being) hasn’t been working”.

    If we did it all like Jesus, the world would be turned upside for Christ.

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  4. Grace,

    Your comment is in itself inspirational. I too believe that Jesus can turn the world upside down. In fact, I wrote a post called, “He turned the world upside down”. Check it out if you like.

    Thanks,
    E.D.

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  5. I like your pattern for church but I believe it needs to go one step farther. I believe we need to submit to each other and ask them to hold us accountable thus implementing personal spiritual growth in our lives. Notice I didn’t say that you were to inniate holding me accountable. I have the Holy Spirit to do that I don’t need another holy spirit to hound me. But I do need people to whom I am accountable to. This setting would provide that.

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  6. Ken,
    I agree – accountability is key, and it seems like it could be a natural result of a small group of worshippers who grow close and become very much like a family.
    On the other extreme, it’s kind of hard to have accountability when you’re an anonymous face within a 15,000+ member congregation. Contrasting the two extremes helps further confirm for me the worthiness of the small church model.

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  7. I believe the pattern was set by the early church in the New Testiment. They met in the temple for collective worship and broke bread together daily from house to house. That discribes public worship as a larger body where the apostles taught and admonished the total body and they scattered out into peoples homes as small groups where intimate ministry could be done individually. Your right, effective ministry and accountability cannot happen in the larger group setting. I believe it happens effectively only in settings two to twelve or so. As the group begins to get to large it needs to divide and multiply itself into two groups. But these groups still need the support and corporate worship and training from the larger body of Christ.

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  8. Ken,
    Re: your right, effective ministry and accountability cannot happen in a larger group setting.

    I will prove to the two of you that you are wrong. It can happen. In pact it’s happening to one particular Church right now. In fact, they are now world wide, with the help of our God the Father.
    This Church is called The Church of God (International)
    presided by Bro. Eliseo Soriano.
    His web sites are: www. Theoldpath.com ; http://www.Eliseosoriano@wordpress.com; http://www.and anddatingdaan.com; http://www.askbrothereli.com

    He possesses the following criteria written in the bible.
    1. He is sent by God (Roman 10:13)
    2. He speaks the word of God(John 3:34)
    3. No unrighteousness in his doctrine.(John 7:17) …You can challenge him if you want to, pertaining to doctrines that was written in the bible.
    4.He preach the word; Be it instant in season or out of season; (2 Timothy 4:2)
    5. He does not meditate before what he shall answer. Cause God gave him a mouth and wisdom, which all his adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.(Luke 21:14-15) ….Try him , and ask him any questions pertaining to the words of God that is written in the bible. Before you can finish your question, he will answer you immediately, back up not just by one verse but with a lot of verses, without looking at the bible.
    6. He challenge and debated some existing so called Christian churches pertaining to their teachings and doctrines.
    7. This particular Church in our dispensation was prophesies by the prophets. ( I will not give you the verses, for security reason, that it will be use by other scrupulous churches that existed today.These verses was hidden to them, but was revealed to these group of people by God The Father)
    8. This Church is very strict in accountability. And pertaining to doctrines, the teaching is never been heard of and never been taught in other churches that existed today.

    So you see, this Church of God and these group of people existed today. Why don’t you two check it out.

    God Bless

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  9. What about the role of the death of Christ and a belief in it to be part of “the family?” When you write, “I also envision no formal membership process; if you attend even once, you are considered part of the family. When the “house churches” meet, their purpose might simply be to worship God, study His word, and learn about and pray for the needs of each other. This would leave no room for “traditions” (I have a strong aversion to traditions, which tend to get in the way of having a true relationship with Jesus).” it sounds to me like you are allow those who don’t believe to be part of the family? how would you define a Christian? Are there some parts of the traditions that are necessary for a correct view of Jesus and the gospel? I am not trying to pick a fight I just really want to know what you think. Thanks.

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  10. also what do you make of the size of the church in the first five chapters of the books of acts? they were the first mega church the way i read it. Yes they meet in homes and in small groups but it looks like they all were one church. what do you think.

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  11. Hi humanitasremedium,

    Thanks for your questions and here are my thoughts. First of all, I don’t believe that I or anyone else is qualified to define who can be classified as a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the only one who can do that, because Jesus knows our hearts. There’s no way for me to know the heart of someone. As a contrast, there are those who outwardly appear to be very “Christian”, but their heart is just not in it. And their faith is just not real. Only Jesus can know that for sure.
    And as far as allowing those who do not believe to be part of the family, I think that’s what Jesus asked us to do. How can someone come to believe in Jesus if we don’t allow them to come to our “church”? We are called to testify, and then rely on God to bring people to Jesus. And church (be it a small home church or a big mega-church) presents a great environment to testify to non-believers. With that said, I guess my earlier comments about church membership really mean that EVERYONE should be allowed to attend, with no strings attached. My only hope is that they have ears to hear. And their belief will grow from their.
    Regarding your second comment, it’s the story in Acts that inspired me to write the post in the first place. The speed at which it grew amazes me. And I believe the simplicity of the church environment (the home church if you will), had a lot to do with that.
    Thanks for reading and for being interested. As a parting thought, no matter what form our churches take, as long as our only purposes are to reach out to others with the absolute truth of Christ, and most importantly to glorify and honor God; in my mind that makes a worthy “church”.

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  12. Your model for “church” is all fine and good and I can’t see any real problems with using it if you want to but it isn’t the Church. It is a man-made model (all models are). There is only one Church. When you come to Christ, you are part of the Church. That’s it. You don’t have to join anything or do anything to be part of it. It is natural that Christians will want to find others to share life with but it is inaccurate to say that the first century Church was composed of “house churches”. They just followed Christ and came together as love gave them the desire. We do not need another institution (no matter how simple it may be) we just need to follow Christ.

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  13. freeinchrist,

    I absolutely agree. One thing you have pointed out to me is that I mis-used the term “church”, as many of us are prone to do. I did not use “church” as Jesus defined church. I used the term church to represent a group of people who physically gather (hopefully) in His name.
    Take care.

    Like

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