Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                              July 21, 2008
The Tragic Error
My Reflections
 [Rock Mix]
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Over the years I've been asked lots of questions about church. In recent years, the top two questions are these: (1) What do we do with the kids at a house church? and (2) How do I start a house church? Well, my question is this: Are these good questions?
Imagine my surprise when one of the first things Doug McConnell, dean for the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary, said to us incoming Ph.D. students, "What they've told you is wrong. There is such a thing as a dumb question." Obviously, in response to such an assertion, one must ask, What does he mean by a statement like that?
In short, it's mostly true. As any good researcher knows, good questions are informed by the literature. For Christ-followers that literature is the Bible. For example, here's a "bad" question: How good must one be to gain eternal life? It's a bad question because a review of the literature plainly reveals, "No one is good" (Rom 3:10). So, a better question might be, How does a person who is not good gain eternal life?
Therefore, based on the literature, the question How do I start a house church? (or any church for that matter) might be a "bad" or "wrong" question from the start. But why?

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: How do I start a house church?
The Tragic Error 
Excerpt from The Great Omission by Dallas Willard
It is a tragic error to think that Jesus was telling us, as he left, to start churches, as that is understood today. From time to time starting a church may be appropriate. But his aim for us is much greater than that. He wants us to establish "beachheads" or bases of operation for the Kingdom of God wherever we are. In this way God's promise to Abraham - that in him and in his seed all people of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3) - is carried forward toward its realization. The outward effect of this life in Christ is perpetual moral revolution, until the purpose of humanity on earth is completed (2006:xiii).
My Reflections
Not long ago I was invited to teach the church planting course at William Jessup University (Rocklin, CA). Imagine my students' collective surprise when I said, "Well, church planting, really, is somewhat of a misnomer."
The fact is, I can't plant churches. And get a load of this, neither could the Apostle Paul; planting churches simply wasn't his goal. Proclaiming the good news about Jesus and making disciples, however, was. And once those who accepted Paul's message began to follow in the way of Jesus, small communities of faith naturally emerged.
The fact is, unless we're multiplying disciples churches won't come to fruition. Oh sure, a well-trained "church planter" might be able to pull a crowd together, but a church? No, only Jesus can do that (Mt 16:18).
Now, I must admit, the concept of a "bad" question doesn't seem entirely copacetic. But, at the same time, it does seem a bit idiotic (defined as "showing foolishness") to try to keep getting answers to questions "church culture" is asking as opposed to questions informed by a good review of the literature.
So, for the record, although I think the how-to-start-a-house-church question is a logical one and well-intentioned, perhaps a better question might be this one: How does one go about making disciples? Answer that question and (because I know the Lord loves building His church) I'm pretty confident the other question will take care of itself.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table