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Can House Churches Impact the World?

Rick Carr

 

I have a dream. My dream is to see a house church that begins to live the Christian life in such a way that new believers are regularly brought into the kingdom and discipled. The result of this being that the group would grow too large, and have to become two groups in order to continue the process. Then, they would become 4, then 8, then 16, ...1024, ... 16,384 .....  But can you imagine, 16,384 house churches of about 4-5 families each (about 20 people each). i.e., 327,680 people, and growing.... Growing because Christians are being Christians!

Growth like this would take those groups from one neighborhood to the next, from one community to the next. It would take them into the homes torn by divorce, adultery. It would take them into homes where parents are losing their children to rebellion, alcohol and drugs. It would take them into homes where parents are abusing their children, or spouses abusing one another. .... to those hurting from the death of a child, or spouse. to drug addicts, prostitutes, "street people" of all types. In short -- to everyone most of the parachurch groups have been formed to reach, because the church isn't or won't.

What need would we have for stop gap measures, if Christians were really living the Christian life in a Christ-like manner? And yes, "stop gap measures" is for me a pretty accurate description of most IC and parachurch groups....

But my dream is to see Christians learn how to live so that there IS someone else there for others who experience these hurts in life. And what I believe is the _ideal_ taught in scripture is that the "someone" should be individual believers living the Christian life, not organizations. And my life experience, as well as what I see in scripture, is showing me that the equipping of the saints to live that kind of life, isn't going to happen through "ministry" organizations either -- church or parachurch....

Let me try to put it all in perspective. Let's say you were able to reach (as in lead to the Lord) 30,000 people a year through a parachurch organization. That would be pretty impressive numbers for most parachurch groups, wouldn't it? There are a little over 3,000,000 people here in Oklahoma. It would take 100+ years to reach them at that rate. What if one believer reached 1 person per year, but taught them to do the same, initiating the multiplication process I referred to earlier. It would take 22 years to reach 4,194,304 people. Which is more effective use of time and resources? Three million in 100 years (that would be 660,000 in 22 years), or four million in 22 years?

Do you see the incredible waste of time, effort, money, that takes place in the name of ministry?

I know, if one person is saved, is it a waste? Ask the 3,340,000 _not_ reached in that 22 years we just talked about.

In addition, to the above perspective, a big part of what God has shown my wife (Trish) and me, centers around two verses. Matt.22:39 & John 13:35.

He showed us that loving our neighbors as ourselves means loving them in the same kinds of practical ways that we do love ourselves. (It's not a matter of self-image, like the "how can you love someone else if you don't know how to love yourself" bit. We do love ourselves. We feed us, clothe us, work on our car, do yard work, paint our house......) Those are things we can do for our neighbors, too, that will demonstrate the love of Christ and open doors of relationships that may provide opportunities to introduce them to Him.

He also showed us that the same kind of love for our "one anothers," will catch the eye of others (all men). They will be confronted with the reality of the love of Christ, and therefore with the reality of Christ Himself. They will see that we are His disciples. In other words, loving other Christians is a form of evangelism, when it takes expression in a way that can be observed by those who don't know Him.

Our home group in Texas was helping one of the group members spread a truck load of dirt in his yard. His next door neighbor saw us out there working and asked Russell what was going on. He went back in his house and told his wife: "That's the darndest thing; I didn't know Christians did that kind of stuff." Within 3 weeks he accepted the Lord. His wife came over and told Russell's wife about it. She said, they were finally going to church together as a family for the first time since they were married.

I got a phone call tonight from my friend John. He is a mechanic. When we lived in Texas, his wife & Trish were good friends. When I had a job that had me travelling 5 days a week, if there was a problem with one of our cars, John would come over and check on it, and either fix it, or tell Trish what needed to be done, so I could fix it on the weekend without spending so much time diagnosing the problem. John was an alcoholic. He had accepted the Lord and attended church for awhile, but had been hurt and dropped out. He had little or no use for spiritual things.

One time when the timing gear stripped out on our Chevelle, it took me several weekends to tear down the engine and replace the gear and all the bent valves and pushrods. He came over one Saturday and a member of our house church was there helping work on my car. John told his wife about it later, and commented he was impressed someone would give up their Saturday to help someone else like that. The next week he came by, and instead of working on the car, about 8 guys from our home group were there helping us remodel our garage into a bedroom. He went home and told his wife, "That's the darndest thing; I didn't know Christians did that kind of stuff." Shortly after that he called me and wanted me to be his fishing buddy. (He wanted someone to fish with who didn't drink so he could cut back on his drinking). We became good friends and have had several opportunities thru the years to talk about the Lord. He told me tonight he hasn't had a drink in 8 months. The Lord has really gotten his attention and turned him around.

Since we've been in Oklahoma, we've found it more difficult to build those relationships and get a HC going, mainly because of the rural community we're living in. It's been discouraging at times, but the Lord has been teaching us to trust his timing.