Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Simple House Church Service

I am going to try to put into practice a phrase I learned at the Church Planting Movement training I attended about two years ago:  Every new believer is a potential new church. 

About a week ago I led a lady to Christ who lives near my home.  Her husband is on the edge but wasn't ready to make the decision.  Normally, when someone first believes it is important for them to learn how to begin personal devotions, reading the Bible, praying, etc.  That is what we teach every new believer.  and we usually always invite them to attend church, too.  However, before I rush her to church, I want to teach her how to lead a very simple church service in her own home. 

This might seem crazy to some (What does she know?  She's not qualified!), but it is the most opportune time to train her to be a leader.  If we bring her to church there are some things she might learn that aren't so great:
  • To think that being a Christian is about mere church attendance.
  • To think that the sum of what makes a good believer is sitting and listening (or not).
  • To think that she's just joined a religion and not a relationship with the Almighty.
  • To think that she doesn't have any place in Christian service, leadership, teaching, etc.
  • To think that if she's going to evangelize her family she can only do that by inviting them to church.
I am not against her going to church, and there are a lot of good things she could gain from that.  But I am going to encourage her to do something very simple and reproducible.  I am going to ask her to have her husband, her parents, her sister, and anyone else in their household who is interested to join her, even if they do not yet believe.  This is what I'm thinking I'll have her do:
  1. Learn about 10 different worship songs in her tribal language to use for singing together.
  2. Pray for God to lead them and show them what he wants them to know.
  3. Go through the following study material:
    1. A very simple Gospel presentation/explanation lesson. (1-2 meetings.)
    2. A series of chronological Bible stories. (About 40 stories--one per meeting.)
    3. The Gospel of Luke.  (A chapter per meeting.)
    4. An ongoing Bible study--through the whole Bible.
  4. Read the above material and ask one another the following questions:
    1. What does this text teach us about God?
    2. What other meaning is there in this text?
    3. What should we do or how should we live based on this text?
  5. Pray that God will help them to obey the message.
  6. Pray the Lord's Prayer.
Very Simple.  That's the idea.  The problem is, when you start thinking about things they "ought" to do in a service, or other questions they "ought" to ask about the text, you can easily add in a multitude of other things.  Then the list becomes very long and cumbersome and it begins to become more about following a prescribed "order of service" than it does about just doing something simple that focuses on the meaning and on God. 

The one thing I'd like to add in there is a simple practice of the Lord's Supper.  I think that could be done if they all eat a meal together first, then do their meeting.  Before the final prayer, they pick out some drink and some rice from the table and remember Christ's death and resurrection together. 

I will need to model this to them a number of times before they will understand, I think.  But I want to keep it simple.  I also want her family to have the opportunity to study and come to faith when they would never be interested in going to church.

I'll let you know how it goes...