A tale of two churches…
– The Home Church –
Exactly what is meant by the phrase “Home Church?” Home churches, also known as house churches, describe small groups of believers – even as few as 2 or 3 – who gather in the name of Jesus Christ. They are very similar to the earliest churches which were customarily designated in the Scriptures as household units. These first Christians, you will recall, reveled in the fact that they personally had become the new dwelling place of the Almighty – living stones in God’s spiritual temple.
The basic rationale? The undergirding principle here is that all authority in heaven and in earth reside in Jesus Christ who reveals Himself through scripture, nature and by supernatural means, as well. Knowledge and all ethics are thus derived from Jesus Christ through the His Holy Spirit.
This means that the totality of life must be God-directed as we are motivated by gratitude for the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. The Home Church perspective is thus a unique world-view in which every follower of Jesus becomes a full-time Christian minister or servant. Every day, every event, every thought, every place become the domain of the Messiah. The line between sacred and secular progressively diminishes because Christ gives true meaning to all things. Every thought is to be brought captive to Him who is All and in all.” (1)
– The Full Service Church –
On Easter of 1980, Saddleback Valley Community Church held its very first public service and 205 people, most of whom had never been to church, showed up. That began one of the most exciting journeys of growth that any church has experienced in American history. In more than two decades of ministry in South Orange County, God has continued to expand the church’s influence. Currently, Saddleback Church has more than 200 ministries serving the church and community. One in nine people in the area call Saddleback their church home.
God has also expanded the church’s ministry both nationally and internationally. Pastor Rick’s 1995 book The Purpose Driven Church, is translated into over 25 languages and was voted one of the “100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century. More than 350,000 church leaders from 120 countries have been trained in Saddleback’s purpose-driven paradigm. Pastor Rick’s latest book, The Purpose Driven Life, has been the #1 or #2 bestseller on the New York Times bestseller list for almost two years and still selling about a million copies a month. It has been named “Book of the Year” twice- in both 2003 and 2004, and recognized as “the bestselling hardback non-fiction book in history.” It focuses on the truth that life is “not about you,” and shows how God can enable each of us to live for His purposes. (2)
Which of the above examples are Christ’s Church? If you answered, both of them, you would be right. Based on our definition of church, both of them are local communities of Christ believers. The small house church might have 20 members or 2 or 3. Saddleback has thousands. Where is God’s blessings? Would Saddleback be so large if it didn’t attract a certain type of believer? You can see from the description of the house church that from their perspective, thousands are leaving institutional churches to be in a more participatory God experience.(3)
Who’s right? They both are. We all come to God with different baggage. Some are burned out with trying to do everything that they just want to be served for a while. Some are tired of being “preached” to and want a smaller community that they can actually take part in ministry. Both are right. Both serve God. Both are not for everyone.
God’s relationship with us is uniquely personal. Our journeys are all unique. Along the way, we may meet people with similar experiences or beliefs or goals. Those relationships are what form local communities. Some of those communities stay small. Others, see different visions for ministry and grow into the thousands. Each has it’s purpose. Each has it’s members. Each glorifies God in serving Him.
Where do you fit? Big, small, somewhere in between?
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.