I have been wanting to write this letter for a long time. I think I am not the only one to want to take formal stock of their housechurch sojourn. I am taking the liberty to share my thoughts, learnings, mistakes, and experience with you in the hope that you will do the same.
This letter is aimed at the believers who call themselves Christians that practice housechurch, micro-church, relational church, simple church, or any number of nomenclatures that mean similar to the same thing. It’s unfortunate that a term denoting place, ‘house’, was adopted to describe the movement because housechurchers know better than most, people are the church. It is a misnomer really because the DNA of the movement is rather quite Christological, with bold attempts at reforming church structure, leadership and liturgy … there is much more to the movement than merely a place of meeting. Perhaps a better name is “heartchurch movement” or “Christcenteredchurch movement”? Perhaps “homechurch” is better than “housechurch” – subtle but night and day difference. We all need a spiritual home, a parental home, a spiritual family.
Apostle Paul admonishes us to examine ourselves. We should examine ourselves as a movement. Are we in the faith, unless indeed we fail to meet the test of the faith (2 Cor 13:5)? Perhaps I delayed the sober evaluation because it is so difficult to fairly judge something you have invested so much in. Big emotional and relational investments over years often make you biased and can foment misguided loyalties which can blind us from the truth of scripture. But with as much impartiality as one can summon, let us no longer avoid examining this movement.
After about twenty years of journeying within this movement, what can we say of the fruit of the house church movement in South Africa? As a movement we can no longer point with the finger at ‘institutional churches’ at what is lacking. It’s time we examine ourselves with brutal honesty against the biblical standard.
No Silver Bullet Answers
By writing this open letter I am by no means pretending to be an expert or have silver bullet answers but it’s my hope that by sharing some of the questions and observations from our journey with Jesus in housechurches, we could in some way help you in yours.
This small, even tiny movement in the church in South Africa, has by and large been ignored and derided by the rest of the body of Christ, even mocked as “klein groepies”, “mini-church” and reliably warned against by the established churches. Christian media and print publications were uniformly wary of the movement. They were (reasonably) concerned for promoting ‘tiny churches’ that did not have a website.
The observations in this letter comes through real blood, sweat, and tears. I am sure if you have been on this journey for any length of time, you can attest the same. Comfortingly, church history is filled with similar stories … like the Hussites, Moravians, the Anabaptists … all radical reforming movements that challenged the church culture of the day. They, without exception, faced ridicule and contempt, at least in the beginning of their formation. And just like the prophets, their prophetic movements became accepted and even normative after the death of their prophet-pioneers.
As Arthur Schopenhauer said “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Perhaps … this will be the case of the housechurch movement. History will decide.
Bit of Background
My wife and I left as ordained elders of a NCMI (New Covenant Ministries International) church in Bellville in 2001 to embark on this journey. We were part of the first wave of Christians to leave church-as-we-know-it back then. Church Idealists on a quest to find the New Jerusalem. The movement still attracts idealists, the hippies of the church world. I have tried to rid myself of my idealism but I think the Lord hardwired me with ekklesia dreams in my DNA, quixotic perhaps but it is what it is.
I have co-founded and co-lead several housechurches since 2001. Some grew up to 40+ people, some were smaller, we had some salvations, discipleship but lots of fellowship and revelation. We had the best of times and worst of times as we experimented with a 24/7 lifestyle of Christian community. Our fridge was basically communal, and we were given to hospitality. Meetings could comfortably last over five hours on gathering days.
As a family we have suffered social loss and marginalisation because of the decision to travel down this peculiar path. Opportunities to minister outside the movement were sparse. We were warned against by well-meaning but ignorant protective pastors, as you may relate in your own experience. Friends from a more conventional church told us their pastors warned them explicitly and repeatedly that they should not let their kids become friends with our kids because we were “dangerous”. Our kids suffered too. Some of the singles also suffered as it was not easy finding spouses. Andrew Smith said, “People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer.”
In our house church journey, I think there has been a disproportionate number of rude awakenings, gross moral failures and sin on a criminal level. Perhaps more than you may have found in your average mainstream denominational church. But then again, perhaps it was happening there too, just better hidden from view by the pew? It is impossible to hide for long when you are 20 people doing shared life together in one another’s homes.
‘Accountability’ was not some contrived church rule as I understand it is in some movements today were everyone has a ‘mentor’ they need to check in once a week like an AA meeting. Accountability just was, because you cannot hide your vices during suicide hour with a bunch of young kids. Accountability is imbedded in the design of the 24/7 lifestyle. I worry about some of the over-accountability (control?) demanded by some churches out there. (Have they not learnt the lessons of the Discipleship Movement lead by Bob Mumford in the 70-80s? Great article: https://jamiebuckinghamministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Jan.Feb-1990-The-End-of-the-Discipleship-Era.pdf )
From 2001 to 2012 we were purely active in the housechurch movement, but the Lord started to speak to us about connecting with the rest of the body from then and the second 10 years or so have been somewhat of a blend of housechurch and working with brothers and sisters in traditional churches.
I have been active in co-building the Recording Room (www.recordingroom.co.za ) which was a guild for prophets from different flows in Cape Town. I have also served and supported other kingdom projects in different flows. The first 10 years was quite isolated and felt like the wilderness and the second 10 odd years has been the opposite, being much more broadly connected and aware of what God has been doing in the other streams of His River. I believe some of the revelation received in the housechurch wilderness time that has been shared with the wider body, has enriched the body. Not to mention personal growing in character that such an ecclesiology fast tracks.
I am excited to see emerge out of the movement a host of tried and tested servant leaders. The Lord is no respecter of persons, and it follows, He is no respecter of movement. Perhaps we are the Gideonites of the Body of Christ, from the smallest and lowest tribe … it’s time to kill the Philistines who are stealing our wheat! Let’s stop hiding in the winepress! Lamps need pedestals.
2001 and 9/11 Changes
The first wave happened the same year 9/11 happened. Some said they were spiritual refugees leaving Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem. September 11th marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new, more unstable one, perhaps a harbinger from the Lord heralding the time to relook at your church model.
Mesmerised by the American Dream (or the South Africa Rainbow Dream equivalent) of white picket fence houses and pretty middle-class lawns, the church had grown complacent. The model of the white-picket-fence-church with perfectly manicured church lawns living in a transformed Paradise Regained, was under threat of a more fluid, organic and resilient one? Models needed to become more bomb proof, so to speak. Covid has been a similar Braxton Hicks contraction, signaling perhaps even more turbulent contractions ahead – good contractions.
Is the movement and model prophetic, for a time still to come? In a generation of fourty years, we are halfway and it’s a good time to take a half time review of the past two decades. I think we need a change room chat with the Coach and reflect on the first half of our game. Do you see the need for this?
Time to Examine
If we soberly judge our movement, we need to confess that the fruit has been meagre. We may even say it has failed by some church growth yardsticks. But then again, most pioneering endeavours often face failure in the beginning.
I want to with fondness and appreciation applaud all those that dared to leave the shores of safety and explore this radical new path. I have deep respect and fondness for them. So many suffered/ do suffer scorn, inward and outward for choosing the difficult path. Explorers and pioneers usually have a very high failure rate and many casualties. And so too with this movement.
It’s been a bloody affair with numerous accounts of terrible sins committed to one another: sexual sins, betrayals, fraud, serious criminality … all can tell of some horror story along the way. But most have also had some deep life changing signpost story of being truly loved by God and by the Body of Christ.
Perhaps another reason for the seeming failure of the movement is it’s very difficult to depart from tradition. It is difficult to change peoples beloved and predictable church experience. It’s one thing to leave Egypt but for Egypt to leave us is the real challenge. Who likes change? Yet the early church crowd of witnesses cries out down the passage of time “Look at our DNA and the outcome of it”.
House churches were not the only radical reforming movement in church history … the Jesus Movement of the 1970s, the Hussites, Moravians, Anabaptists … radical reformers that did radical things to counter the cultural creep of Canaan, Babylon and Egypt into the church.
Housechurches are difficult in Western Culture
I think the pioneer analogy is true for the housechurch movement in South Africa (and indeed with the movement in other parts of the Western Church). Our brothers in the Eastern Church have had much better success in ordering their church life in smaller relational house communities. Perhaps the cultural context is more favourable there and less pioneering is needed in terms of form toward a more biblical basis.
We must confess the Western culture esteems independence and self-reliance much more than the scripture does … Eastern culture places higher value on community, we can learn from this. This normative cultural resistance to a lifestyle of community, centred around Christ, has hindered the adoption of this model in the West. But things are a changin.
Organic Garden VS Greenhouse
Organic farmers crops are not known for their high volume but are known for their unique flavour, intense colour and superior medicinal properties – basically they are better quality than the mass produced, artificially fertilised, and high yielding GMO mainstay of our supermarkets. Appetites are changing. Times are changing. Change is being forced upon us.
The metaphor of organically grown versus commercially grown is fair I think, to compare church models. We are God’s field after all (1 Cor 3:9). Both growing techniques result in fruit but the products have dramatically different cost of inputs … and outputs.
Greenhouses are protected and free of bugs, things grow like weeds in there. Uncovered and outside organic plants face the rough, with many pests and wind and sun and storm, its real and dangerous. And the wine produced from organic grapes are quite different to your normal vintages available in the marketplace of church experiences. But both have their place.
The Countryside is Blossoming
While the pros and cons of the housechurch model became quickly evident in our house church experiment, something far more glorious happened, for which I am eternally grateful to God, Christ found us. We met the Lord in the desert, the church-of-the-desert, a wilderness stripped-down of dubious church norms and distractions, raw and real, stripped of everything. It was ecclesiologically and theologically wild … rural and wild.
It is difficult leaving the safe harbours of convention and allowing yourself to drift into the unknown deep blue. It is also a wildly exciting adventure. What a glorious simplicity, authenticity, primitiveness and un-scriptedness of the Christian walk is available for those willing to risk! It was like discovering a priceless pearl, meeting Him there in that way, stripped down and naked.
When brand-building is off the table and the envious competition it generates removed, stuff happens, deep stuff, wonderful things happen within the heart. You discover a purity and simplicity in following Jesus. Brother Lawrence stuff. Discovering Christ as all in all, with a radical Christ-centredness, it was like being born again again. Jesus became bigger. Much bigger, Jesus became our ALL. We heard His call from the countryside, “Come Away”.
My love calls to me: Arise, my darling.
Come away, my beautiful one.
For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away.
The blossoms appear in the countryside.
The time of singings has come, and the turtledove’s cooing is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs; the blossoming vines give off their fragrance.
Arise, my darling.
Come away, my beautiful one.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13SOME LESSONS LEARNT (IE MISTAKES MADE)
With no neat doctrinal church constitutions to reference, we had to mine the scripture for ourselves over doctrine and ask the Holy Spirit. With no easy pre-packaged, pre-congested neat answers, all in the housechurch / simple church / organic church had to get conviction on the great doctrines for themselves. And not without much wrangling and wrestling did we mine the scriptures!
It is a tremendously slow and inefficient process but full of glory because it deepens conviction like an organic carrot that hits a rock and anchors itself on the resistance. Like a sun scorched tomato fighting to retain its precious moisture from the blazing sun … by thickening its skin …we learnt to trust the Holy Spirit, no pre-packaged dogma. In the absence of well qualified celebrity Christians doing the thinking for us, there we found glory, agony, and ecstasy in heaps.
I would like to share some of the lessons we learnt (with the hope that you would do the same).
Functional Health matters Most
New is not always better. Wine is more important than wineskin. A healthy functioning church in an old conventional wineskin is better than a poorly functioning church in a new wineskin. What is a great wineskin help if the wine is off? There are housechurches that became cults and 200 year old churches that birthed a mighty revival. Is the Lord there? Is the community obedient to the Lord? Is outside help welcomed? Does light emit from there?
Model matters but is subservient to the life in the model. The wineskin should always be matched to the type of wine it preserves, as Jesus taught us. Just like big is not always better than small, new is neither always better than old. Let big be big and small be small, let new be new and old be old. Elephants are elephants and fleas are fleas. Is a flea better than an elephant? For more see: https://andrebaard.com/new-is-not-always-better/
Understand the role of Bestselling Christian Authors
Don’t trust Christian best-selling authors blindly. Herald’s have a place and so do on-the-ground-apostolic workers. Understand that an author is there to sell books and ideas. They have their place to stir up the body, to herald truth, but they are most often not apostolic-on-the-ground-people helping plant and found churches. They are therefore not available and able to deal with the messy that comes with founding churches, big or small.
“Better is a neighbour who is near than a brother who is far away.” (Proverbs 27:10) And better is a poorly edited and bound manual written by a field worker who is practicing daily that which he preaches than a great PhD level theoretical framing of great church wineskin concepts, that are not tested in the decades long furnace of lived practice in diverse cultural settings.
Cost of Unleadership
This was a mistake – ‘unleadership’. We tried to unlead and it does not work. For those seeking a radical revisit to what biblical servant leadership may look like, most often landed up in the error of overreach, oversteer. Meetings that are unlead, flounder. Groups that outlawed leadership languished because there was no means to create boundaries and order. Eldership was generally shunned. We tried to be so democratic, so equal that leadership become an unspoken swear word.
Yet God is a God of Order. God uses pattern. We are to imitate God and Godly leaders. (https://andrebaard.com/imitate-god-and-godly-leaders/). God loves ‘good order’ (Col 2:5) and church order is usually expressed through the leadership function (Rom 12). We need boundaries, not borders. We cannot have holes in our walls and do nothing about it. We cannot have housechurches dominated by one charismatic person either. We need to find the biblical tension.
The pendulum swung to what I think is an apt term: ‘unleadership’. We threw the baby with the bath water out and suffered the due cost of leaderlessness. The Holy Spirit was grieved.
But many have learned that the leadership gift is a blessing and not curse. Servant hearted leaders are arising and they are radically different in DNA to your administrator-type-leader starting a franchise church with all the bells and whistles that come with third, fourth, fifth generation movements. If you have tasted old wine, you don’t want new wine, as the Lord said. Old is nice. New is good. There is place for both. Let us stop dividing the body by old and new. Jesus died for the old and the new to be reconciled in Him. Let us mature in this – only Jesus has the right to divide, and He does not.
Trellis & Vine (Ordered Organic Church)
We need order. For a vine to produce good volume and good quality fruit, it needs a trellis. A trellis is not a living thing, it’s hard dead wood so to speak. But it very much comes alive in how it shapes the vine. The trellis is like a wineskin, it preserves the grapes from spoiling. Organic churches should be ordered by the cross by some inflexible ordering things. It offers a great reward to the vine that accepts its forming and shaping influence … more access to the Sun! More access to the sun means more growth and more life and more fruit and less loss due to clusters rotting on the ground. We need ordered, we need organic, we need ordered organic churches. See https://andrebaard.com/trellis-vine/ for further interest on ordered organic church.
Social Seeking Housechurcher
Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us of the basis of true Christian community must be Christ alone in below quote, not some ‘extraordinary social experience’. The term ‘social seeking housechurcher’ is apt for this group of people. Church is not a social club where we all share the same interests and all agree with you. Church is about Jesus. Church is about friendship, in the Lord.
“I have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ. The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for all eternity. “That dismisses once and for all every clamorous desire for something more. One who wants more than what Christ has established does not want Christian brotherhood. He is looking for some extraordinary social experience which he has not found elsewhere; he is bringing muddled and impure desires into Christian brotherhood. Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Bonhoeffer is sublime here and articulates a monumental warning for us in the housechurch movement.
People are drawn to the house church movement for different reasons; many as a reaction to spiritual abuse by immature or broken and unhealed church leaders, some as a noble attempt to search a better wineskin (than the commonly used top-down-structure), some from the church growth movement (especially in India and China), some form the discipleship movement and many just looking for a smaller church group for social reasons …. because the social barrier to entry to friendship is usually low in a housechurch. They came for their social needs to be met … human friendship … with or without Christ!
The latter grouping most often ended up in the worst cases of spiritual abuse. Koinonianitis, the tendency for small churches to be fellowship obsessed and inwardly focussed, set in. A few strong personalities eventually dominated these small groups and all sorts of in-grown toenails, corns, warts, and other nasty spiritual illnesses developed.
Too many housechurches became stale social clubs filled with navel gazers, not caring for the lost outside their warm and fuzzy lounge. Too many were content to maintain their exclusive and comfortable holy huddle. Bonhoeffer nailed it, church is centered on Christ and for Christ, not your social needs.
Church is not a social club. I hear some sighing a sigh of great relief. Brothers and sisters are family and don’t need to be besties, they are family. F a m i l y.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
We need Church at Solomon’s Porch (CSP) & Church in the House (CITH)
Housechurches of 20 people allow for beautiful expressions of Christian community that is not possible in bigger settings. “Discipleship cannot happen in big groups.“ as Neil Gamble says. The benefits are many, especially in a prophetic future where persecution of born-again believers is quite likely.
However, small housechurches simply need other churches to stay healthy. The body is a whole and each part needs the other part. We have seen the best operating housechurches are those connected to other churches and other housechurches. Those churches also have access to outside fivefold ministers. We need families of housechurches working inter-dependently with one another and other churches. Meeting regularly, say every 4-8 weeks like healthy families do? Both and. Bigger gatherings and smaller, both serving indispensable life giving functions.
The Solomon’s Porch connection creates effective access to diverse gifts within the body and those gifts ensure the health of the body, like oxygen rich blood flowing to the parts of the body that need it. Housechurches need better ‘supply chain management’ – we need to get the spiritual logistics right – the impairment of the movement of nutrients in the body has caused parts of the body to go green with gangrene. Blood clots have caused strokes in others.
We need to intentionally build bridges and make connections to enable Solomon’s Porch type corporate meetings. Venues should be hired, and the body should blend and connect. Money must be spent. Comfort zones need to be violated. There are many practical benefits too to the both-and: kids can find friends their own age, singles can have access to greater pool of potential spouses, the poor can be helped with greater corporate muscle, leadership and service demands can be shared, guest fivefold workers can impart their gift at Solomon’s Porch etc etc. Jesus always had a throng about Him, true anointed gifts in the body are in demand – Solomon’s Porch makes access to the “workers are few”, possible.
If God sends a Paul to town, why listen to one another? Really.
We need Alliances
Housechurches need to help other housechurches and traditionally structured churches – they need to blend and so avert spiritual incest. And yes, cultish spiritual incest has happened. Spiritual deformities exist that come from spiritual incest that happened in housechurches. It happens because no outside DNA could temper the dominant charismatic. Perhaps you know of some cases. We must avoid this going forward. The movement needs healing. We need flow and movement in the River of God. The swamps and marshes of God’s River (Eze 47:11), there in the reeds and slow shadows leviathan lurks. Let us help isolated housechurches get connected and promote cross pollination. Well done to Dylan Cromhout for the great work he has done in this regard in South Africa.
We need to connect and build bridges with local institutional churches. We need to love crossflow. We should foster unity, not harbour bitterness and division. Instinctively and deliberately, we need to build alliances, partnerships, collaborations. If you do not have a missionary to support, ask locally and give generously. If you do not have a mercy ministry in house, go build bridges and help at a local institutional church soup kitchen – why duplicate? Let us climb down from our high horse and serve the wider body of Christ besides the needs of the housechurch. To become isolated in the River of God means death, slow death.
We need Leaders
‘Unleadership’ has hamstrung the movement. It seems to be right with God that the thing we try to exterminate in excess, we help accelerate in breeding … Spray DOOM on leadership and you unwittingly super charge the algae-like-growth of a bunch of mini-dictators that quickly infest the vacuum. Nature and God it would seem, both abhor a vacuum. Every house has a strongman, may it be Christ alone on the throne!
Servant leaders are out there. We need to learn to submit more easily to the leadership gifts Christ has placed in His body. We need to get over ourselves, get healed and move on. Servant leaders are to be celebrated. You generate what you celebrate. Let us celebrate Godly, servant hearted leaders and make their lives a joy as the scripture says because the greatest of all is actually chief slave of all. It is tough job but with great reward.
The anti-leader sentiment reminds me of the story of the first conference of anarchists in Europe … the conference fittingly failed because of the anarchy and disorder. God is a God of Order, leaders have a function that the body needs. It’s not a position, it’s a function. It’s not a curse but a blessing.
We need people to give Financially
Housechurchers are notoriously bad at parting with their money. This is a generalisation of course, but sacrificial giving to mission and to the local and city church, needs to happen to help with the flow of material and spiritual resources. Gospel workers are worthy of their wages. ‘Follow the money’ as they say … where is your money going? Is your house paneled but the Lord’s corporate house lays in ruins?
Stop Pointing the Finger
We need to stop judging the institutional church because as we judge them, we fall under the same judgment. Pride puffs you up and puts you above others. We need to eat some humble pie made of the left overs of only unleavened bread!
Do institutional churches abuse spiritual authority? Do we?
Do institutional churches keep church members passive in pews? Do we?
Are institutional churches stuck in dead traditions? Are we?
Are we unmoved by the lost and comfortable by meeting the same people every week while the lost perish en masse?
Are your meetings free for the Holy Spirit to move? Have you grieved, quenched, and insulted the Holy Spirit? (Eph 4:30, 1Thess 5:19, Heb 10:29)
This movement must stop pointing fingers because we pile up our own guilt and give room for more mockery. Fruit brings glory to God, let us pray to the Lord of the Harvest for more fruit and higher obedience levels. Jesus died for the unity of the body, and we would do well to follow his example in laying our corporate lives down for the benefit of the unity of the faith of the broader body. We need to eat our fair share of that humble pie that feeds church unity. Make effort to keep unity and do not divide the true church.
What is the purpose of this Movement?
Why did the Lord initiate this renewal/ movement? The Lord has blessed many in the movement with deep lessons on the priesthood of all believers, functional servant leadership, deep revelation of the mysteries of the faith and beautiful Christ centeredness. Many lessons too have been etched on the hearts of God’s people as to the sinfulness of man. I think the housechurch model brings you up close and personal with the sinfulness of yourself and man more than any other movement!
Authentic humble servant leaders are emerging. The wineskin is becoming more known, and its time may still be in the future. But some essential changes are needed, some key co-ordinates reset, I believe. Perhaps as a movement we were born out of time … perhaps more for a time to come. Perhaps we are just preparing the way for another generation that will celebrate the recovery of truth. Perhaps we will be like the pioneering homeschoolers of the 1980s in South Africa … they were ridiculed and mocked and harassed … now home schooling is the fastest growing demographic in South Africa.
Covid-19 also has certainly helped many see the value of the small church group …not the “Wednesday Cell Group” but real simple churches with good DNA. Churches of Bethany, churches at the feet of Jesus, in the right place, doing the God-pleasing-Mary-things. Philadelphia-type churches, pleasing God’s heart, impacting God’s heart in a thousand small and simple ways.
I heard of one Baptist church in Cape Town that found a 100% correlation to all the people that left the church during these two years of Covid … all of them were not connected relationally in their smaller groups. Sub 20 sized groups of believers build resilience into the disciples of Christ – pestilence proof disciples. The time is here to leave the stage … go to the table … to the feet of Jesus. The movement has truth to share and needs truth from the wider Body to receive.
Bob Jones prophesied the below at the beginning of this movement in 2001 in the “Shepherds Rod for 2002 (original source www.whitedoveministries.org but now not available on the website). At its inception he succinctly explains the purpose of the movement in relation to the wider body of Christ (in the western church that is). We are to bless the wider Body of Christ. That is our purpose of being in the countryside with our Lover. Share the treasures of wisdom and revelation we have been gifted.
Let us not get caught in the marshes and swamps of the River of God but keep in step and paddle to the centre of the flow of the Holy Spirit. Let us learn and grow and not repeat past mistakes. Let us share the deep lessons with our brothers in other flows in the River of God.
Further maturing of Home Groups
The Lord again emphasized this year the importance of home group meetings and their significance in Kingdom preparation. Fresh anointing will again be released on these meetings as intense preparation continues for the Lord’ s leadership. The Lord also promised signs and wonders to begin to take place in these meetings as a validation of their importance.
Likewise, the release of power will begin to refresh and renew many in these intimate settings that are a true indication of the Apostolic age. Private small meetings characterised the early church in the book of Acts in which great truth and power was imparted to that generation of people as they were dispersed throughout the known world sharing the good news of the gospel.
The Kingdom of heaven rests within the hearts of man. As these leaders develop from private intimate settings of home group studies, they will infiltrate the churches bringing light and life into traditional structures. This will begin to dispel darkness and oppression that has existed in many churches.
These who carry this light are considered to be light bearers and will be clothed in garments of humility and integrity. Their purpose will not be to bring division or pride but rather unity and meekness. These attributes the Lord will be able to anoint delivering injections of Life into the local churches.
Without doubt the Lord’s blessing is on the homechurch as the new wine. The Lord is challenging “traditional structures” and is beginning to release more light and revelation on His preferred way. The “how to’s” and contextualisation is another matter altogether for apostolic authority, but the word is out – housechurch – and it will surely only increase. I am sure you agree. The “light bearers” who bring this light to challenge the status quo will be perceived as divisive and will probably be accused of being arrogant but in fact they are simply listening and following the new, powerful unstoppable current of the Spirit of God deep down in the belly.Bob Jones
“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”1 Cor 14:26
If all minister, the church will be built up by all … and that will hasten the coming of the Lord. What wineskin realistically makes the above possible? What wineskin is scalable? What wineskin is persecution proof? I love what God has done through housechurches in South Africa but there is more and we need to repent and learn.
It’s time that this movement infiltrate like good yeast the traditionally structured churches and dispel the darkness and oppression and share the light we have been given and equally receive the gift of Christ that exists in them. This way the Body of Christ will build itself up stronger in love and in unity. And the gates of hell cannot resist Christ in His united church. Amen.
This letter is written with the hope that it will encourage and strengthen and challenge some brethren in the housechurch movement in South Africa. It is also a request to share your insights for the benefit of all. Now is the time, as Bob Jones prophesied 20 years ago, to bring unity and meekness to the wider body. Now is the time the Lord will anoint and deliver injections of life through us to the broader body of which we are members. Let us serve, brethren. Let us love Christ by serving others.
Love in Christ,
We’ve shared a very similar jouney in Port Elizabeth the last 15 yrs. Many thanks for this letter, highlighting so many vital issues. The pain has been worth it. My wife and I will keep you in our prayers, as the Lord reminds us. I’m convinced house church is the right thing to do, in the light of the written and Living Word. I agree that we must work with sympathetic churches in our area and beyond, for that reason I attend two Fraternals in our city, among other things. My wife reminded me of a prophetic word given us by a faithful believer a few years before we left pastoring a traditional Church: 2 Tim.4:16-18. Grace, mercy and peace.
Thanks Erroll for your response and I agree the gain even with pain has been great. May the Lord prosper your work in building bridges of unity in the faith across the flows. I’m enjoying reading your well laid out masters thesis!