Monday, June 24, 2013

NETWORKING HELPFUL OF HARMFUL?

....and why link house churches into networks?


Today's Simple Church Letter deals with the knotty subject of simple/house church networking. Some time ago we had Craig Kirkby (Australia) with us for a weekend and in our three get-togethers we enjoyed and benefited greatly from mini, unofficial networking. Yes, it was mini as it was a 'first' for us in Waikanae. We have also participated in a live-in weekend with some 26 simple church NZ leaders where we shared, brain -stormed, prayed and experienced meaningful fellowship; getting to know each other and creating informal links. What we didn't want was anything man-made. (Tying two dogs tails together is hardly a recipe for unity!) But we all agreed it was a positive experience and once tasted, we are open for more of the same.

Rad Zdero writes, "Networking" is a buzz word These days!

"Some people in house churches react negatively to it. But, if today's house church movement is to move forward into God's purposes, this topic must be addressed!

"Most house churches correctly believe the New Testament teaches that each house church is legitimate, independent, and self-governing under Christ (Matt 18:20; Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Philem 1:2).

"But, many house churches wrongly conclude they don't need to be linked with other house churches or apostolic leaders. This is a BIG mistake! Let's discuss the strategic and scriptural reasons for clustering house churches together into networks.

"What is a Network?

"A network is a group of people or things linked together through mutual interactions.

"The real-world is made up of many decentralized and self-organized networks connected by a few 'hubs.'

"Social circles usually comprise about 150 close friends and thousands of acquaintances tied together through a few key people.

"How many house churches are linked together?

"In a 2009 unpublished survey by Dr. Steve Lyzenga, only 35% of house churches in the USA were part of a network. The other 59% were not, while 6% did not even know if they had such a connection. About 68% said their group needed help to get connected with other house churches to finish the Great Commission, 18% were neutral on the issue, and 14% did not feel they needed such assistance. Sadly, it seems the majority of American house churches (and probably also those in other western nations) are isolated and lack a bigger vision. No wonder many groups are shrinking and shutting down!

"What are the strategic reasons?

"First, isolation kills. Solitary house churches often become ingrown, discouraged, and irrelevant after a few years. They implode because of lack of direction, training, and resources.

"Second, teamwork pays off. Linked house churches have a better chance of growing because they can pool their people and resources. They can accomplish far more together.

"Third, healthy beliefs and behaviour are maintained. House churches can keep each other accountable and encouraged.

"Fourth, church history speaks loud and clear. By the end of the 18th century, the Methodist movement saw revival fire spread as they linked their 10,000 home groups (called 'classes' and 'bands') into citywide networks (called 'societies') and regional networks (called 'circuits').

"Fifth, the modern church planting explosions in China and India, each fast approaching 1 million house churches in the year 2010, link their groups by mobilizing prayer, people, and resources to effectively reach their nations for Jesus Christ.

"What are the Scriptural examples of Networks?

"The early believers connected house churches into geography-based networks.

"In the city of Jerusalem, thousands of believers met in hundreds of small house groups that partnered together as one cohesive body (Acts 2:41-47).

"In the city of Ephesus, house churches were united through a team of leaders (Acts 20:17). Paul also trained them "publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20).

"In the region of Asia Minor, the believers of seven neighboring citywide churches were linked into a regional network through John's apostolic team of traveling workers (2 Jn 1:12; 3 Jn 1:3-10, 13; Rev 2 & 3).

"The early believers used practical means to weave house churches together. Apostles traveled to encourage, train, connect, evangelize, and deal with problems (Luke 10:1-11;Rom 1:10; 1 Cor 9:5; Acts 8:14-17, 10:23-24, 15:1-5,22,36, 18:24- 27; 2 Jn 1:12; 3 Jn 1:14).

"Apostles wrote letters to address crises and teach general Christian truths (Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31; Acts 15:23-30; 2 Jn 1:12; 3 Jn 1:13; Col 4:16; 2 Thes 2:2,15; 2 Thes 3:14)

"Local leaders (called 'elders') and traveling leaders (called 'apostles') met together, sometimes privately, for training, encouragement, and making decisions (Acts 15:1-6; 20:17; Gal 2:9-10)

"Large gatherings brought together believers from multiple house churches for training and teaching, but also to reach non-believers through evangelistic and healing events (Acts 2:1,41-47; 3:11-12; 5:12; 6:2-4; 8:5-8; 15:4,12,22; 19:9-11; 20:20).

"May today's house church movement recapture a more strategic and Scriptural view of networks to reach the world for Jesus Christ!"

Thanks Rad. This article came from the 2010 summer issue of "The Starfish Files"


I welcome your feedback


Jack


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