My wife Wendy and I regularly have to meet with new members, or those seeking to join our house church family, to explain to them what we do and why we do it.
This usually involves letting them know that we have no statement of faith, and that we welcome anyone to join us as long as they are seeking to know Jesus better and want to follow Him in their daily life.
This means that, at any gathering of the Body, we potentially have Dispensationalists sitting next to people who accept Fulfillment Theology; and Calvinists sitting next to Arminians; and Cessationists sitting next to Pentecostals; and sometimes even homosexuals sitting next to straight people or Muslims sitting next to Atheists who are sitting next to Jesus Freaks.
For most, this is just too much and they have to admit that this is not the church they are looking for.
But, for those who do find this sort of freedom refreshing and who are only interested in knowing Jesus, and hearing Him, and experiencing Him, and focusing on Him with others who are also interested in the same Jesus, they discover a community where they are as loved and as welcome as anyone else.
We know we’re different, even from other local House Church or Organic Church groups, and that’s ok. For those who are looking for something a bit more traditional, there are plenty of others to choose from…and we are happy to help them find their spiritual home if it isn’t among us.
Some who hear about our approach are concerned that someone might come into our group and lead us astray.
I understand that, if you’ve never experienced what I’m talking about, you might think that it’s a free-for-all where “anything goes” and therefore it would leave us wide open for false teachers, cultists, or even other religions like Islam or Hinduism, etc.
Well, the truth is, it would be very hard for any person to do this successfully in a room full of people who are hungry for Jesus.
Hindus can’t give us more of Jesus. So, they wouldn’t find any takers in our group.
Plus, we wouldn’t allow anyone to advance their own agenda, whether it was Amway, or Dispensationalism, or Hinduism, etc.
When we gather together our singular focus is Jesus. We talk to Him, we pray to Him, we listen to Him, we talk about His teaching, we encourage one another to follow Him, we remind one another of His heart and character and example, etc.
It would be hard for a Hindu to introduce their faith into that conversation.
Maybe that’s why we’ve never had any problem with that?
As you might imagine, we are pretty sensitive to this sort of thing. Anyone who tries to advance their own pet doctrines or to sway others to agree with their particular convictions about anything is going to raise eyebrows in our group.
Or, to put it another way: We’re not afraid that other people might rub off on us. But we are pretty certain that they should be concerned about how much we are going to rub Jesus onto them.
And also, I am not the leader of our group, Jesus is. For reals.
My personal doctrines and convictions, etc. are not on display or even championed.
For example, I’ve written several books and I have a blog, but most in our group have never read those books or follow my blog.
I just finished a series against Dispensationalism, but I have never uttered the word “Dispensationalism” in our house church in over 10 years.
Our focus is not doctrine, or anything other than knowing and following and experiencing the person of Jesus.
Some might argue that “just saying that Jesus is your Leader doesn’t change anything.”
And I would totally agree – if all we are doing is “just saying Jesus is our leader” then we have accomplished nothing.
But if we are actually working together to allow Jesus to be our leader whenever we come together – and it does take cooperation from everyone – then we have done something pretty amazing.
Having done this for 10 years now I can tell you that we have only enjoyed more of the presence of the Lord Jesus in our midst and over time our love for Him and for one another has only increased.
Those who are hungry for more of Him find themselves thriving in this community and those who want to find a group that believes everything the way they do finds that they’re unsatisfied by our constant focus on Jesus.
Of course, it’s very challenging to explain what our gatherings look like in a post. I wish everyone could visit one of our gatherings and notice how I almost never talk and how everyone else is sharing spontaneously from their heart about what Jesus is teaching them or showing them or how different people spontaneously encourage one another and pray for one another, etc.
As one brother said who visited us a few years ago: “If I didn’t know that you had started this church, I would never have guessed it after what the Lord did today.”
I’ve heard people suggest that what our group is experiencing is simply peer pressure at work.
I understand that we are so jaded by our previous experiences in what has been come to be called “Church” in America, but seriously, the regulating mechanism in the Body of Christ is not peer pressure [although, certainly it can be if the Spirit is not present in the Body].
It’s really amazing what happens when everyone in the Body surrenders themselves to the Holy Spirit all at once!
We can probably relate to what it’s like in our individual lives when we do so. But now imagine a room full of people who are all submitted to Christ and who are all seeking Him as their leader and Head.
Imagine that they don’t speak to be heard, or to show off their wisdom, but only if the Holy Spirit gives them an encouragement for someone else in the Body.
Imagine that they don’t speak unless they honestly feel that they are speaking, as if “the very words of God” [1 Peter 4:11]
Imagine that they don’t do anything apart from the direction of Christ within them whispering in His still, small voice.
That is closer to what I’m talking about.
And until we started doing this 10 years ago, I never thought it was really possible.
Granted, we are only really beginning to experience this in a greater measure these last 2 years or so, but it has been so worth it to partner together with the family of God to arrive at this place.
So, our house church family might not be what you’re looking for. We understand that. But for those who are hungry and thirsty for this sort of group where Jesus is the center and we all work together to keep Him as our focus, it’s a wonderful opportunity to experience Jesus as the Head of the Body.
It really is the best thing I’ve ever done with the word “Church” on it for the last 10 years, now.
Keith Giles new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.
He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.
Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.
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