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Grace and Freedom in Christ…

For those of you who are a part of The Dwelling Place, here is a great short message by Francis Chan on Freedom in Christ and Grace. Francis Chan: “Grace, Grace, Grace”  (This and other massages at http://www.cornerstonesimi.com)

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MIA…

I realize I have been MIA from my blog. I am sorry for the lack of content lately, but I have been knee-deep in other things. I promise I’ll be posting soon. In the meantime here’s a short list of things I’ve been up to, so pray for me:

Love you guys! I’ll be back soon.

Isn’t God amazing…

You may say, “God has nothing to do with this.”  I beg to differ.

So, what are you doing with what God has given you?  What do you dream about?

Creativity… an amazing gift from the Creator….ENJOY!

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The effects of revelation…

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I was reflecting this morning on the effects of revelation on one’s life.  Paul speaks several places in scripture about the revelation of Christ and His gospel and  their impact upon his life.  This revelation had a death and life … Continue reading

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Simple Church: Global & Generational Movement

After the last post concerning the House Church Movement in China, I ran across this article at World Mission Impact:

“200 Christian leaders from 40 nations met in New Delhi, India, Nov 11-14th, 2009, to explore the scope and significance of house-based discipling communities and emerging house church movements worldwide. Known best from the history of the underground house churches in China that report by now an estimated 100 million members, a similar phenomenon has emerged in the last 15 years in numerous nations outside of China. Conference reports indicate that, from very small beginnings, in many nations fairly sizeable house church movements have emerged, including on the continents of Africa and Latin America.”

Other Sources: Joel News and Wolfgang Simson

God will use many different ways to reach the nations.  However, there seems to be a momentum growing in the House/Simple/Organic Church around the world.  There is also a shift in evangelism, discipleship and Church Planting  to a Kingdom focus with a change from sharing the Gospel to build churches to sharing the Gospel to build the Kingdom.  This is causing the Church to be more relational and decentralizing the Church and its leadership by encouraging all members of the body of Christ to function in their gifts.

The House Church Movement is bringing the Church into a natural flow and rhythm of people’s lives.  Two things seem to be affecting this change and it’s growing momentum: 1. The shift from planting a Church to planting multiple churches and… 2.The decentralizing of hierarchical leadership to a Kingdom focused leadership that is recognizing all members of the body as equals by submit to one another based on their gifts and functions not titles of spiritual superiority.  This is becoming more and more attractive to those in their 20’s and 30’s, who think more globally.

Previous generations have thrown stones at the children of the digital age as escaping relational connection and developing pseudo-relationships through the internet and cell phones.  However, I believe the opposite is true.  This generation sees itself as a part of a global community and believes it can affect global change.  They are utilizing the tools of their generation to reach around the world.  I believe this has made them relational in a global community rather than just a local community. 

We need to embrace the zeal of our youth while our youth need to embrace and appreciate their father’s in the faith.  We must encourage the House Church movement while not dismissing what God has been and still is doing through the Traditional Church.  God always reveals new tools for each new generation.   However, these are not replacements.

Each generation of leaders has to deal with insecurity and legitimacy.  We need to embrace what God is giving us and what He wants to do through us without delegitimizing what God has done in and through others in order to feel secure about what God is doing through us.  God will not honor sons who do not honor their fathers.  Instead, He wants the fathers to turn to the sons and the sons to their fathers.  Unless we get this, we will bring immaturity into the next generation of the Church.  As my father taught me:

“You cannot be a father unless you first know what it means to be a son.”  John W. Hobbs

Simple Church: House Church in China

As I sit here in a little coffee shop in Wilmington, NC and reflecting on the last details to finish today for the Christmas Gathering of our House Church tomorrow evening, I am struck with a humbled sense of gratitude.  In all the business and planning we do for our churches in the West, we can lose sight or maybe never see the essence of what church really is.  We can so easily take the Church for granted when caught up in all that we do to run and maintain our traditional Church Organizations; with all the meetings, boards, committees, programs, classes, politics, and facility needs.   

According to the AP reported on November 26, 2009, “A court in northern China has sentenced five leaders of an unauthorized Protestant church to prison terms of up to seven years on charges including illegal assembly, rights groups reported Thursday.”  Among those arrested were the Pastor, his wife and three other church members.  The AP goes on to say, “The sentences are among the harshest in recent years for members of so-called “house churches” — congregations that refuse to register and accept the authority of the government’s Religious Affairs Bureau.” 

A few weeks ago I was sitting in our church gathering, a group of about 20-30 people circled up in a large room off the back of our home.  Looking around the room I was thinking about this story of a pastor and his wife who met just like we were that morning but knowing they were risking their freedom, maybe their lives and yet this did not deter them.  They were doing exactly what we were that morning; singing, reading, praying, studying, laughing, eating, loving, sharing our stories- our lives with each other, and meeting each other’s needs.  However, we were risking nothing that the death of pride wouldn’t fix.  They were risking everything.  It’s amazing how the thought of that can refocus you on what is really important and not, what the church is and not.  It makes you grateful.

According to a study done by the Barna Group, when a Chinese House Church pastor or leader is arrested or killed, the house church may disband, but out of it will form 5 other House Churches. This may explain the latest statistics reported on an article from the Seattle P-I on October 3, 2008:

Zhao Xiao, a former Communist Party official and convert to Christianity, smiles over a cup of tea and says he thinks there are up to 130 million Christians in China. This is far larger than previous estimates.  The government says there are 21 million (16 million Protestants, 5 million Catholics). Unofficial figures, such as one given by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity in Massachusetts, put the number at about 70 million.  But Zhao is not alone in his reckoning. A study of China by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, an American think tank, says indirect survey evidence suggests many unaffiliated Christians are not in the official figures.  And according to China Aid Association, a Texas-based lobby group, the director of the government body that supervises all religions in China, said privately that the figure was indeed as much as 130 million in early 2008.  If so, it would mean China contains more Christians than Communists (party membership is 74 million) and there may be more active Christians in China than in any other country.  In 1949, when the Communists took power, less than 1 percent of the population had been baptized, most of them Catholics. Now the largest, fastest-growing number of Christians belong to Protestant “house churches.”

It is clear that this incredible growth of disciples is a result of the unauthorized and uncounted House Church Movement under great persecution.  This has also served to keep Christians in House Churches focused on what is important and not hindered by Western consumer necessities.  Without our baggage, the House Churches in China have become relational not religious, flexible not rigid, creative not stagnate, inclusive not exclusive, adaptable not compromising, disciple building not building churches and giving not getting.  They are not worried about getting their church name out there.  The only name they are concerned with promoting is Jesus.  What if our Western  Pastors, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Churches were more concerned with making the name of Jesus famous than the name on the sign out front.

I am not throwing stones.  I’ve been there.  This is not to say that House Churches are where it’s at or what God is doing now.  It’s really not about leaders, traditional churches, buildings, money or programs.  It’s about evaluating what we think and do as the Church and refocus on what is true and really necessary to be the Church.  It’s about shedding unnecessary baggage.  It’s about seeing through God’s eyes, getting His heart and being led by the Holy Spirit no matter what the cost, even if the cost is how we’ve always done it.  It’s about Jesus and people – all else is negotiable and subject to change.

It about being grateful.

Simple Church – putting a number on it…

Ever feel like you are the only one?

Simple Church, Organic Church or House Church is no longer thought of as some fringe, obscure or illegitimate expression of the Church made up of hippies and those too strange to belong to traditional christian churches.  Let me take that back… some of us are strange.  However, there is a longing amongst many believers today for something more than the status quo, more than church attendance.  There is a growing desire to not change the structure of church but rather be changed people.  This is leading to a shift in how believers meet and gather.  It’s less about the building and more about the relationships and Christ being the center of communal life. 

So is this a passing fad?  It doesn’t seem so.  By the growing numbers it’s becoming a movement – a Jesus movement and is gaining acceptance even among mainstream traditional and denominational churches who are not only embracing it as legitimate but who themselves are now planting Simple Churches.

Give it to me. What’s the number?

One of Christianity’s most influential leaders, George Barna, who has both been a part of the movement for many years and has done extensive research share some interesting facts.  This is a recent article written by the Barna Group entitled “How many people really attend a House Church?”.  CLICK HERE