Tag Archives: house church

Simple Discipleship – Where to Start

[This post was first posted at my personal blog The Dreaming Revolutionary.]

Jesus said; “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (ethne).” This is our mandate known as the Great Commission. He went on to describe how that is done; “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Is that what we have done? If we have done discipleship at all, what do we do, and where do we start?

I have reviewed discipleship materials over the years, some good and some miss the mark altogether. What is usually missing is the part of making disciples that Jesus describes as “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Most discipleship is focused on what the believer needs to do. It becomes a list of tasks that the believer must do in order to be a growing disciple. As the believer progresses, he is then given a list of skills to learn to be an effective servant in the church, many times referred to as ministry skills. This leads to several problems that hinder growth and a healthy relationship with their heavenly Father.

When you disciple an individual focusing mainly on the development ministry skills, that disciple certainly knows what to do in service to the Lord. That is not where we should start; it is insufficient and builds the wrong foundation in the life of the disciple of Jesus. Instead, when you disciple an individual by using the daily life lesson the Lord brings to them in life, that disciple knows how to have a relationship with God and live life as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. This is where you should start and build from there.

The problem with skill based discipleship is that the Church is filled with people whose value is determined by what they do rather than who they are. Their identity is determined by a position in ministry rather than their position in Christ. Therefore you have a highly skilled church that has very little interaction with God and are susceptible to moral failure, chronic disappointment, and an inflated ego that serves self (“my ministry”) rather than others. The idea of a life based on the gospel of the Kingdom is considered to idealistic and unattainable.

The solution is to make disciples through relationships rather than academics; using their life experiences, tragedies, and victories of life. Life itself would serve as the lessons and the curriculum would be provided by searching the scriptures and determining what the Lord says regarding what is happening from day to day. By teaching the disciple to relate their situations to the Word of God and in the context of the gospel of the Kingdom, the disciple’s relationship to the Lord grows deeper and they are able to withstand life in this fallen world in victory and be an example of a disciple of Jesus.

Merely teaching skills such as how to pray, read the bible, conduct a bible study, and even to the level of skills required in most local church positions robs the disciple of the foundation needed to maintain a real relationship with the Lord. It causes whatever relationship that is developed with Jesus to be based on being a servant of God rather than a friend and child of God.

Training and preparing disciples in ministry skills is important and should not be neglected, but it should never be considered the goal of discipleship. Discipleship’s goal is to transform our lives so that we are like Jesus, imitators of Him, obedient to Him. This must be in the area of how we live, our character and how we respond to life and apply the truth of His Word to those situations. Therefore we must be able to hear the voice of our Lord.

Another mistake is creating a dependency on curriculum and other materials to make disciples or to be a disciple. There are thousands of workbooks, manuals, study guides that have been developed for the purpose of discipleship. Though the content of many of these books are sound and worth reading they can never replace the opportunity to fellowship with the Lord firsthand and go to his word and hear him speak to you and teach you his ways. When we depend on curriculum, the believer becomes dependent on external sources for guidance and teaching rather than developing the hearing ear that knows the voice of his shepherd. This is imperative to the new disciple and cannot be put off to a future time.

In discussing discipleship with leaders in the context of simple church, I am usually asked; “What curriculum do you use?” When I state that we do not use any curriculum except the Bible and the life of the believer I usually get that glazed over look of puzzlement. I usually remind them that the new believers in the book of Acts had no Navigators booklets, no Master Life, no Kay Arthur, and no Bill Bright; but they still made disciples! Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for all of these resources. All we need is a kitchen table, or couch or a local eating establishment and we are ready to grow together as we discuss our lives together and draw from the truths in God’s Word.

So what do we do? Start with the basics. What someone gives their life to the Lord – believe it! What I mean is, believe that the Lord is now over their life and what happens is the Lord’s. He IS governing their life and that life IS their schooling. By using the curriculum of their life and the resource that gives life – the Word of God, they have a foundation that can withstand whatever comes their way. Not only that, I doesn’t cost a cent! You don’t need to buy books, furnish a classroom, build and education wing or hire a professional Bible teacher. It is that simple.

Now let’s get started! Go and make disciples!

How Will This Work?

I just got an email from Shawn (take a look at his blog ) and he asked a very important question – so I will put it out for all of you to chime in and see what you all have to say.

His question was:

I am curious as to know how this (House2Harvest Network) could work. Is the intention that through the networking, a house church might find a way to serve a “foreign” group/pastor/church planter/evangelist/house church group to reach people in another country?

If so, would they do that through financial support, prayer support, short term missions, potentially sending long-term missions to start a new house church or house church network?

Would there be any other ways?

So how would you answer Shawn? I am looking forward to hearing some great insights from all of you.

Don

Do the Dialogue – Your Comments are Treasure!

This is just a reminder that the articles here are for you to not only read, but post your thoughts, testimonies and ideas. (See list of posts on the right) Don’t worry about being redundant or brief. This will help us get an idea of what everyone is thinking in regards to House2Harvest Network and its formation.

So read through the previous posts and jump in and share with us your ideas, plans, experiences, concerns etc. We only have one month till the conference (2008 National House Church Conference, August 28-31), so let’s get some more treasures from your experiences and ideas.

A Plan – (in process)

Over the past few months Steve Lyzenga and myself have been brainstorming regarding what House2Harvest Network will look like. This blog is adding to that discussion, and of course the round table discussion after the close of the 2008 House Church Conference in Dallas, TX will provide further discussion and hopefully implementation.

Here is what we have written up so far:

House2Harvest Network

Ideas / Notes / Concepts

Edited 7/10/08

[The following description is a work in progress. It is here that we have merely written some of our ideas, dreams and brainstorming results. House2Harvest Network will begin to take shape during the “roundtable” discussion held after the close of the 2008 National House Church Conference in Dallas, TX on August 31, 2008. Here is what we have come up with so far.]

House2Harvest Network – an equipping/serving ministry – a prophetic voice to the Body of Christ regarding facilitating the end time harvest.

House2Harvest will serve the thousands of simple (house, emerging, post-modern churches and the like) churches by helping them become a part of a major mission movement focusing primarily on reaching the unreached, the marginalized, the poor, and the development of strategic missions both locally and internationally.

We desire to help Simple/house churches and networks do the following:

a. Be mobilized to the least reached ethnic groups (nations), the marginalized, and the poor sending apostolic teams to make disciples among them.

b. Provide training to those who are called to minister cross culturally.

c. Develop a plan to send teams to the least reached, the marginalized and the poor.

d. Establish their own sending council or missions organization (via their regional house church network) so that they can effectively and strategically send apostolic workers to the frontiers (i.e. Strategic Church Network – http://www.strategicchurchnetwork.org).

House2Harvest will provide training, consultation and resources to facilitate mobilization, deployment and engagement to the unreached as well as wisely engaging in ministry to widows and orphans and the poorest of the poor.

Focus:

  • Acts 1:8. In areas where foundations have never been laid (the unreached) as well as targeting the marginalized poor (such as refugees, widows and orphans). This will be done via sending apostolic teams and partnering with already sent apostolic teams.

Values & Ideas (in no particular order):

  • Never separate training from doing. Our philosophy of training needs to be “doing” based rather than just knowledge based. When we do trainings, it must involve real ministry and missions.

Examples:

Short term trip

House churches set up exclusively for training servants to the nations and to reach specific communities, neighborhoods and social groups.

Partnering with viable models that can be used as training points.

Connect what they have learned with a ministry activity or project that allows them to put it into practice in the real world – not contrived exercises.

  • Emphasize the role of the apostolic over the traditional professional missionary.
  • Maintain the network via actual relationships rather than organizational and institutional tools and methods. This network will not only be focused in the USA but in other nations as well.
  • Encourage sending teams rather than individuals. This would also include partnering with already sent teams.
  • We are NOT to be an information monopoly – but work “flat” (starfish principles). Share what we have openly and not for the profit of an organization.
  • Income will come from training, consulting and coaching activities as well as hosting trips. Funding will also be secured from partners and grants.
  • Use different terms to communicate values:

o Instead of Missions – use “Serve the nations”

o Instead of missionary – use “servant to the nations”

o Instead of church planting – use “making disciples”

  • Be willing to develop in areas where models do not exists as well as use of existing models.
  • Hold Conferences – round table style consultations in order to facilitate networking and sharing of ideas, resources, and strategies.
  • Provide Resources, web based, etc.
  • Provide consulting and coaching.
  • Assist in the Process of (this will be an integrated process – not linear):

o Preparing

o Planning

o Partnering

o Placing

o Planting

To Do:

  • Develop a network to connect, to send, to train/do. This will begin at the Roundtable discussion in Dallas (August 31)
  • Find out what House/Simple Church networks we can work with and develop a data base of resource people and networks. (part of Steve’s research)
  • Find out what projects need to be developed.
  • Develop Website and find a talented web designer willing to serve as webhost.

More thoughts:

  • Mobilizing simple churches to:

a. The unreached – the least reached ethnic groups (Matthew 24:14).

b. Strategic mercy ministries such as orphans and widows and the poorest of the poor. Providing counsel to assist the SC to connect with ministries of integrity.

  • Serving house church networks and ministries for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. Thus, keeping a Kingdom of God focus, and not an organizational, network, or ministry focus.
  • Work towards helping ministries/networks become mission, church planting, disciple making movements. This begins at home and will then spread to the areas of the world where Jesus in unknown and the gospel of the Kingdom is not yet preached.
  • The goal will be to stay flat (i.e. starfish, open sourced). Be viral – produce viral tools.
  • Potential Projects:

a. Develop a prayer network that is missions focused.

b. Maintain a list of networking partners (both individuals and missions organizations) who willing to serve to see the least reached nations reached through Simple Church networks.

c. Maintain a list of what people are actually doing who are willing to serve as points for training and learning.

d. Bridge Centers (Forward Operating Bases) in the region of major affinity blocks. (see description below)

e. Develop and maintain a Web Site – Open sourced / equipping and resources. This will also serve as a communication hub taking all security precautions in mind.

f. Training team of cross cultural, apostolic workers that will itinerate to simple church networks to assist them in the cause.

g. Training Houses (M-Pact Houses – Missions Houses – see description below)

BRIDGE CENTERS – FORWARD OPERATING BASES

  • Serve as a bridge/connector between the field and local churches/ministries/missions orgs.
  • Providing:

o Resources

o Research

o Renewals for field workers

o Training

o Exposure opportunities for supporters and potential teams

o Providing a forum and venue for a team of strategic coordinators for a specific affinity block and/or its sub groups.

o Strategic forums for field workers and partners.

  • Local – in a non-threatening location
  • Key Component – Serve
  • Network with local practitioners in the affinity block and their organizations.
  • Network with local businesses and humanitarian/educational organizations to provide opportunities for service.
  • Host Short-Term teams, consultations, seminars, language studies, cultural studies, training initiatives.
  • Relational Connections will make it work.
  • Must be international.
  • Possible locations. Locations will be in strategic location throughout the 10/40 window. The list is not to be publicized for security reasons. There is already a working model in South East Asia.
  • Systems to be developed/administrated:

o Short-Term Teams – Hosting

o Guest House

o Member Care for servants to the nations such as retreats and counseling.

o Language School – UPG languages and trade languages of the region.

o Consultation and partnering events.

o Local Relationships with legacy/institutional/traditional churches, humanitarian organizations, schools and businesses.

o Library and resources for servants to the nations and study groups.

o Strategic Studies (i.e. IIS) and programs.

o Pre-field Orientation School

o Staging base for teams, research and community transformation ministries.

M-PACT Houses

A Mission House Concept: A place to grow, be equipped and change the world!

M=Mission, Pact=A Covenant, A Promise until a certain goal is achieved. – Root Latin Pax = peace. Sounds like impact!

A. Gather together approximately six believers who want to live out a biblical discipleship model as a team in order to:

  1. Grow in Christ
  2. Experience simple/organic church
  3. Make disciples in their neighborhood seeing the Lord build his Church.
  4. Serve as the team leaders for short-term missions trips through House2Harvest.
  5. Prepare for the mission field in the areas of the world that are unreached.

B. Obtain house in needy urban areas to house the teams. These houses will need to be large enough to accommodate 6 singles. We will need a separate house for men, women and couples. The team members will need to be adults who are capable of living on their own.

  • The House will be run by the team. It is the intention that each team member will be treated as an adult and will be expected to make adult decisions together.

o They will write up a covenant agreement among themselves establishing:

· House Rules

· Financial Responsibilities

· Discipleship goals

· Vision and Ministry goals for the neighborhood

· Methods of accountability.

· Training plan for cross cultural ministry

  • The team will meet together regularly as the church (all the “mission houses” in the neighborhood – men, women and couples).
  • The team will be responsible to make disciples throughout the neighborhood using the “Church Planting Movement” strategy and variations thereof seeing churches planted in various homes.
  • The team may also be a part of the core leadership team for the House2Harvest short term mission trips in the USA and around the world.
  • Each team member will hold down at least a part time job or attend college/university. This will be so that:

o The team members develop real-life skills and not be insulated from the integration of life and ministry.

o The team members will not be isolated from real life experience; their training experience will not be an “extraction” experience so that they will not produce disciples themselves via extraction.

o This will provide the financial needs for the house as well as their personal needs.

  • Each team member will be responsible to raise the funds needed for mission trips. This may be done from the house churches which they have planted and other relationships they have developed through the Body of Christ.
  • The team will have a one year commitment to be part of the house. At the end of one year the can choose to remain as part of the team or leave. The other team members will also have voice as to whether a team member remains on the team.

C. The coaching team will be responsible to:

  • Provide guidelines through each of the above activities and processes.
  • Provide training and coaching in the area of doing house church, reaching their neighbors, and cross cultural ministry.
  • Meet regularly with the team members for fellowship, encouragement and mentoring/coaching times.
  • Provide leadership and intervention when needed.

D. The House Churches

  • The team will make disciples thus planting as many house churches as possible.
  • Each team member will facilitate a house church until the attendees of that house church are prepared to grow and multiply without his/her assistance.
  • The goal is that when the Mission House team leaves the area, the gospel continues to be spread throughout that neighborhood/community through the active ministry of each house church that was planted.
  • The house churches planted will follow the basic philosophy of house church and will not be under any denomination or hierarchal entity preserving the priesthood of every believer and allowing the house church to be autonomous.

E. What do we need to begin?

  • Houses to be used to the glory of God in strategic communities.
  • Team candidates that are willing to follow the plan.
  • Funding for set up costs and missional outreach.

M-PACT – “The adventure is out there!” M-PACT –“Whose life is it anyway?”

Well what do you think – let’s talk about it!

What’s Happening at Your House?

Our third question for this forum is: What is God doing now amongst house churches in regards to missions?

Take a few moments and tell us what the Lord is doing in your house/simple church in regards to missions. Tell us some stories about opportunities for cross-cultural relationships in your neighborhood, your area, and even regrading missions trips you may have taken within the context of your house church.

Introduction to this Weblog – what’s it all about?

We have established this blog to facilitate discussion leading up to the 2008 National House Church Conference in Dallas, August 28-31, 2008 (www.house2house.com – see Conference information) Missions Track and the Post-Conference roundtable meeting for launching House2Harvest Network/Ministry. I will post several preliminary documents and email correspondences that we have exchanged to rbing everyone up to date. It will continue after the conference to allow for further discussion and collaboration.

Our objectives up to this point are to answer these questions:

  1. Can a house church do missions in some of the most challenging areas of the world?
  2. What area or strategy in missions is best suited for house church networks?
  3. What is God doing now amongst house churches in regards to missions?
  4. What will it take for these HC networks to do missions more effectively and strategically?
  5. What role will the House/Simple Church networks have in fulfilling Matthew 24:14?
  6. How can a house/simple church effectively do missions amongst the unreached and the poor?
  7. How will the house/simple church networks train and send missionaries (apostolic teams) to the field?

Below you will find these questions as categories for us to discuss. If you have other catagories to add, make a comment below and I will add the category.

So far our workshop topics may include the following:

  • #1 – How Can House Churches do Missions?
  • #2 – A Survey of House Churches and Missions.
  • #3 – People Group Strategies – Fulfilling Matthew 24:14.
  • #4 – Regional Networks – An opportunity to meet with others who are working in the same region in which you have an interest.

Remember – this is NOT a one way conversation. Feel free to share your ideas, thoughts and suggestions.

Ok – let’s start the dialogue!

Blessings – Don Davis