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The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

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12.02.2007

House Church

During our drive back from hearing Rob Bell speak in Cleveland last night, my brother posed the question to Greg and I: "If we really believe that organized church isn't necessary and there is a 'better' way of doing church, why do we all still go to churches we aren't fully satisfied with?" It was a good question for sure, and one that I've been pondering over for most of the day.

I've been trying to find some resources or conversations online, and haven't come across too much. But one name that came up a few times was Wolgang Simpson, and his 15 Theses. They are posted here and could provide some interesting conversation for our next meeting on December 8th.

Feel free to comment on the 15 Theses either here, or come prepared to the meeting on the 8th to talk about the idea of House Churches.

20 comments:

Alex said...

this might be helpful...
it was a huge help to me two years ago when i left organized religion...

http://theofframp.org/Detox.html

Jesse said...

Thank you, Alex, for that great resource. The article, and website, provides a lot of good information.

You mention leaving organized religion two years ago. What do you "do" now, or how do live out your faith apart from organized religion?

rob said...

i too heard rob bell in cleveland the other night and was surfing the web for blogs on the subject when i came across yours. the question you pose has been haunting me for quite some time now. i have close friends on both sides of the fence. my thoughts...

abandoning the organized church(es) seems a bit harsh to me. after all...what good does it do to start something new? how does it fix what is wrong with the old? we "revolutionaries" have a responsibility to those churches to which we belong. remember, they are organized by people, people are fallible. the Bible calls us to "forgive as the LORD our GOD hath forgiven." bailing out on them is hardly forgiving.

"loving others" doesn't only apply to those outside the church. we must love those inside as well and help them learn how to better love each other and those who are outside.

separation is a tool of the devil. love never fails.

Jesse said...

Hey Rob -

Thanks for your comments. I also resonate with God's call to faithfulness, even to our Christian family. Even just as I was reading some house church literature across the internet today, what I was most struck by was the negative tone in which most addressed the institutional church. Such words as "useless," "hypocritical," and "pathetic" were flung without any apparent compassion. I agree that this can cause more separation and harm, and thus further the work of the devil, and not the Kingdom.

However, I don't think that just because something isn't working very well, we just continue to do it. In fact, some consider that the definition of insanity. Instead, we have to ask the question, "What (where) is God calling me to right now?" For some, that means reformation within the church. I think that the Emergent church movement is doing a great job and not just splitting off and creating a new denomination, but is encouraging churches from all denominations to emerge in their own way.

For others, (perhaps me right now), it might mean an expression of "church" that differs from the traditional. I'm not sure....and that's why I appreciate your comments.

What else struck you about the Rob Bell event?

rob said...

i agree with you totally! the word reformation is something that needs to be taught as happening, not happened. change occurs from within.

as far as bell goes, it was amazing to say the least. the man has been gifted for communication. he's been blessed with the ability to translate the Bible into here and now.

i believe i was most enlightened by the orgins of the sacrificial system. how all that stuff started and why. it brings a new sense of clarity to Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers...

i also felt relieved at the explanation of Abraham and Isaac's story. it's about GOD, not Abraham. just plain good stuff.

then, the way he wrapped it up with real stories of real people, and his signature nooma style challenge...

Nick Johnson said...

Wow, you guys are really making me wish I could have been there to hear Rob Bell speak (damn grad school...). I can say that the whole leaving everyone else behind thing is something that really, really bothers Jane (my wife) and me. It's a big reason we didn't get invovled in the Landing Place, though not the only reason. However, as things have progressed we are starting to feel ready to take the jump...or at least a controlled jump.

Anyway, I can't wait to discuss this Saturday night. I must confess that ever since reading your email Jesse I've been very excited.

Julia said...

Hmmm...I'm looking forward to attending this discussion. I did not like how the article pitted themselves against organized religion. Can't we have both? The most organic community that I have been involved was a small Historical Anglican church in Dayton that met during the week in people's homes and came together on Sunday at the church to celebrate the liturgy. God is not against rituals. He started them. He is against "empty rituals". Actually i have found that in general the emerging church is reacting against modernist evangelical churches not historical ones. In fact many emerging church leaders are advocating for a return to ancient forms of premodern worship. Since I've moved to Columbus, I am currently attending a house church. I love the people but the lack of structure is threatening its ability to be truly effective in the community. By being against all forms of structure, you end up standing for nothing.

Nick Johnson said...

Julia, I think that's a good point. I've really been missing ritual in my life (recall that we don't even sing at my church). A couple weeks ago Jane and I went to mass just for a spot of singing. I felt such a rush of emotion that has been bottled up during communion that I sat in the pew crying (I'm not sure what the people next to me thought). It just felt so good to worship God with other people as part of a ritual that we have been practicing for 2000 years.

So anyway, when I say I am getting tired of church I am referring to an evangelical church, not a traditional one. However, if we had been attending a Catholic church that past couple years I would probably be complaining about nothing being explained, no real fellowship in the body (personal experience, probably not world-wide), and too much kneeling.

Nick Johnson said...

On a totally unrelated note, Julia - do you want to carpool with Jane, Greg, and myself? I seem to recall that you live pretty close to us, but I can't find your email. Anyway, if interested drop me a note at johnson.3178@osu.edu.

Jesse said...

I'm so glad the discussion is getting started and that everyone is excited for Saturday night. Let me first say that I have done very little research into house churches, and so the articles posted on the site so far may not be the best by far. So if anyone knows of authors who specifically address this topic, or have access to books that are particularly helpful, please either post them here, or bring them to the meeting on Saturday. Right now I'm just planning to talk about the "15 Theses" and house churches in general.

One thought I had when reading the other comments had to do with both Rob Bell and the discussion of "rituals" - during Rob's message he adamantly condemned any type of Christian practice or ritual that is based upon guilt or obligation. The entire point of his event was that humans don't have to try to please God with sacrifices and ritual. One of the most powerful moments of the evening was when he said, "Any ritual that is not centered on the peace of God is not Christian, no matter what language it uses." The entire auditorium applauded spontaneously.

So I also resonate with Nick and Julia's comments regarding meaningful rituals. Growing up in a liturgical church, I find great comfort in saying a joint confession of sins and then resting under the familiar assurance of forgiveness recited by the pastor. I find unity and peace in these kinds of rituals. I fully agree that the emergent church is not reacting against these types of "traditional" practices, but rather the "empty rituals" that Julia mentions.

One thing I've found intriguing as I've read just a little bit of material written by people involved in the house church movement, is the approach to the Lord's Supper. From what I can gather, they take the common evangelical ritual of communion, and return to the 1st century practice of sharing a large meal together with believers. One of the statements I found really powerful was that they are returning to a "more substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning."

Anyway, just a few more thoughts before Saturday. I'll try to have copies of some of these documents for everyone to look at in hand.

Nick and Jane: So glad to hear you were able to attend a Catholic service and it was meaningful for you!

rob said...

This is a great discussion folks! I so wish I could be there with you. Your group will be in my prayers Saturday evening.

Regarding house church...one of my roomates holds a Bible study/church in my house on Wednesday nights. The group consists of "revolutionaries" who have become quite disenchanted with organized churches. Sometimes they sing, most times they talk and discuss. The topic of communion has been brought up, but I'm not sure if anything has materialized yet.

Every Wednesday, I return home from my church, about five blocks away, and usually get sucked into whatever chaotic discussion is going on. For the past couple months, they've been delving into Romans. This is both good and bad. Like I said, discussion usually ends up quite chaotic. There's no really organized teaching, just a bunch of fairly young Christians blurting out opinions and interpretations of the Scripture at hand. Most of the time they skim over some very pivotal stuff. I try to slow them down with my limited knowledge in order to gain a little focus, but again...limited knowledge.

Whether their approach is right or wrong is up for debate. However, someone, or two, usually leave confused or frustrated. Hopefully, this confusion encourages them to bring the subject up in other areas of life with other people.

My point is, if you do start a house church, don't do it out of rebellion. Do it out of desire to grow closer to this amazing GOD which loves us more than we can ever fathom. Take notes of the "rituals" which the "organized" churches tend to use. They've been around for a while, so apparently, they work, as long as they're not "empty".

A good question to continually ask as a group is "Why?"

Feral Pastor said...

Hello Friends!

I stumbled upon your blog and wish I had been at the Rob Bell event with you, and that I lived close enough to meet you in person! (I live in the Twin Cities area, MN.)

So - here's a couple of thoughts from another person on the journey.

Lots of people in the HC in North America are getting there because of their dissatisfaction with conventional congregations. So it's understandable - though not excusable - that they reflect more readily on what they are reacting against than what they are attracted to. It's common, apparently, for new movemnets to be "negative" in their early days, before they begin to get clear about what they are for. (McLaren introduced me to this idea in talking about how postmodernity is still more defined by reference to what it's not, than by what it is.)

Personally, I have found Tony and Felicity Dale to be very good about showing respect and appreciation for "Legacy" churches, as they call them, even as they lead people into HC life. You can find them at www.House2House.com. They are closely connected with Wolfgang Simson (who is a bit of a firebrand) and also John White at DAWN: www.dawnministries.org/index.php.

I agree that there is real value in larger expressions of the Church that can't readily be achieved just in the houses. But I think most of western Christendom puts too much time into those big expressions and not enough into the small. My desire is to work towards a healty re-balancing.

Enough from me! Although I hope you'll excuse a little self-promotion. ;) On my blog I've written about my own journey (I'm a Lutheran pastor who resigned his call in order to pursue HC) and a little about transitioning. You can also find a few HC resources on my homepage.

Blessings on your life and ministry!

Tim

Blog: http://feralpastor.blogspot.com/
Homepage: www.feralpastor.net

Jane Johnson said...

Tim,

Thanks for your words of advice, because we really are in need of guidance right now. I plan to spend a good amount of time today looking at your blog. Let me ask you a specific question: how do you create interest about a new house church, especially in a fairly large city where there are already plenty of established churches?

Feral Pastor said...

Great question! I wish I had personal experience to draw on to give you an answer, but since I don't yet, I'll just share what I've heard and what I think, and you can take it with a grain or two of salt.

Felicity Dale has a book entitled An Army of Ordinary People that is full of stories about how HCs have been started. Most commonly, they report that the church planter looks for a "person of peace" (see Mt. 10:11) who welcomes them and their message. They encourage that person to invite their friends etc. into their own home, where the planter can speak to the group. What's most impressive to me, is that they work quickly to move from the planter leading theg roup to the planter coaching someone else from within the group who helps to keep it going. (I'm sure that's an enormous simplification!)

It's worth noting that aparently here in the US, most people in the HCs were already believers when they came there. So part of the "interest," sadly, comes from people who are disgruntled or otherwise dissatisfied with conventional congregations. Reggie McNeal is touching on this when he talks about how many people are now "leaving the church" in order to preserve their faith. (See The Present Future a GREAT book!)

Another, very practical idea is to go to Meetup.com and search for people interested in "House Church" or "Progressive Christianity" in your zipcode. Here in the Twin Cities, that kind of search came up with about 30 people, and you know they all have friends wha are probably interested too.

Lastly... one of my own dreams is to reach out to the many people who are "in orbit" around conventional congregations, but for whom it just doesn't work to "land" onto the member-pew-pledge-committee terrain. My hope is to help them nucleate micro-churches in their homes with their friends, where I can serve as a coach, resource person, and relational bridge back to the genuinely valuable aspects of larger Christian groupings. So... you may well find peoiple who are interested in HCs floating around the margins of your own regular congregations.

Hope that helps!

Tim

Anonymous said...

Hello

Something that seems not being discussed is two dynamics. In today's economy time and finances seem to present a problem concerning the supporting of the American Church. I do not believe for a second that God wanted Israel to have Kings. And I know the concept of having the "one" man elevated above everyone (Pastor) is very much the same thing. We need to simplify and throw out the ajendas. The gospel shouldn't cost us anything--save to gather, worship, encourage one another, give to one another as we each have needs. Then go out two by two, taking no thought of tomorrow what we should eat or drink--one tunic--one pair of sandals. We are messengers! That is all. Like "medics" on a battlefield. We do not choose sides. We simply minister the gospel to the lost--on both sides! Our Churches like the world, have become like large corporations. The focus is on profit, power, and self-promotion!

I do not want to start a debate on tithing. But like everything else when the veil was rent, tithing became giving--not under compulsion. But as the Holy Spirit moves/directs us. We are to give more than finances. We are to give oursleves as a reasonable living sacrifice. Lay down our lives.

The American Church however, promotes the one/elevated man who often dictates. Creating followers not leaders. Jesus warns us in Jeremiah that mans motives are impure on his best day. We have to move away from this prescribed set-up where we focus on books, tapes, music and the "selling" or marketing of the gospel. We must return to the prototype of Acts wherby every man, woman, and child has a part to play.

Bottom line: Take away the stage and the actors will go away!

Marc Wildman

Jesse said...

Thanks for the comment Marc! This is a very old post on our blog, but its interesting b/c I think we are still working through what it means to really be "the church" or even just "a church" in Columbus.

Anonymous said...

Jesse

I was looking for something in Northeastern Ohio as in House Churches. I ran across this blog. I guess I was in one of those make a comment moods.

Sorry to "crash" the party. It's just that I am passionate concerning our need in todays Christianity to return to our roots. Jesus already laid out a plan in Acts. Simplify comes to mind. Anyway, thanks for your encouraging words.

Marc

Jesse said...

Marc -

You're not crashing the party at all. The more the merrier!! I hope if you are ever in the Columbus area you will drop by one of our gatherings.

I will say that we are very "unorthodox" in the best way possible. We welcome everyone, affirm everyone, and celebrate Jesus together.

Blessings on your faith journey

Anonymous said...

Jesse

Thanks for the invite. I respect "orthodox" but would rather not participate in it. Thanks for the invite. What I am noticing about house Churches is this; you cannot find any meetings up here near the Akron/Cleveland area. This is where we (myself/wife and two boys) live.

Do you know of any in this area of Ohio, or any links that might point us in the right direction?

Marc

Jesse said...

Hey marc -

Sorry I didn't respond back sooner.

First, I mentioned that we are "UNorthodox" - not sure if you caught that :)

Second, I don't know of any cohorts in the Northern Ohio area in particular. I did want to invite you to hang out with us this Sunday. We are having Samir Selmanovic come and share with us. He's a great writer/speaker. If you can make it into Columbus around 2pm on Sunday, itll be worth your drive, and it'd be great to meet up.

Also, if you look here:

http://emergentvillage.com/cohorts-finder/

You may be able to find some more info about a cohort in your area. Best of luck and blessings on your search -