Today finishes the Summer series, Lord, Come to My Messy House, an invitation to invite Jesus into our less than perfect homes and our messy lives. Today we take a very simple look at inviting Jesus into our homes and calling it church. I know several families here in the community that want to receive the bulletin early because of health issues and other reasons, they seldom come on Sunday morning, so they like reading the scripture and praying and talking about what they read. Is that church?
It needs to be said often, the church is not a place, it is not a building, it is people gathering together in the name of the Lord. Private homes played a pivotal role in the humble beginnings of the growth of the church in the New Testament, and private homes play a pivotal role in the growth of the church today around the world. Entire nations are being taken for Christ today through Christians gathering in homes, most famously in China, with the state sanctioned church and then the lowly house church, a movement certainly tens of thousands strong. I read one estimate of 80 million believers today in China. A few months ago a woman was in our community telling about the Christians in the Muslim world, in homes, and the undercurrent of the spirit of God that is alive and well.
Lord, come to my messy house church. Today, my one major purpose is to spotlight what I consider to be one of the greatest values of this church: “It’s all about the Kingdom.” I am not here in Sumas to make a name for this church, or to somehow make the name of Carl Crouse something good. I am in this place for the sake of the kingdom. It’s all about the kingdom, not this Sunday morning gathering, but more and more people having an opportunity to experience the Lord Jesus Christ. Selfishly, of course it is a lot of fun to see people gather in Christian fellowship in a safe place we call the Sumas Advent Christian Church, the church on the corner, the Clothesline Church, A Church for the community… lot’s of names…. But the greater passion is to see the Kingdom of God expand into the hearts of men and women, to see more homes redeemed for the sake of Christ, becoming safe places of rest, to see more gatherings in the name of Christ of all shapes and sizes and forms, to see the peace of Christ take hold of the lives of those who are seeking to turn their life around and get rid of the addictions, and the sins, and the destructive patterns that consume them.
A lot more church/gathering of God’s people. goes on than that what happens in these walls. As long as the Lord blesses, we’ll do our part, but our goal is for the Kingdom, whether it pays direct dividends for what happens in this place our not. Who cares anymore about numbers and statistics and power and a personal reputation. May the Christian community rise up and pray for the Kingdom… The role of this church is to be a servant to the community, to promote Christ in the community. Not to compete for a greater slice of the pie, but to serve and give ourselves away for the sake of the kingdom and the promotion of Christ in the community and world, for Christ to go into the messy homes and the messy lives and redeem the hurting for the sake of the kingdom. Lord Jesus, Come to my Messy House (Church).
Enlarge your definition of “church.” May your eyes open wider to the amazing potential surrounding us of Kingdom work. If you are part of a small group where Christians gather together, isn’t that the definition of church? Seeds of Hope at JJ Fryes, call it whatever you want, but I see Christians gathering together…It’s all about the kingdom. All about Christ, all about fellowshipping together in the name of Christ.
The home, that most personal place of the family, is the place where we commonly find Christians gathering together. On the website I’ll list a few of the homes in the New Testament:
Lydia’s House (Acts 16:40)
An Upper Room (Acts 20:8)
Priscilla and Aquila’s house (Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19)
Nympha’s house in Laodicea (Colossians 4:15)
Archippa’s house (Philemon 2)
And Our scripture today, The day of Pentecost (Acts 2:42-47).
The House Church – I have borrowed a list of advantages of the House Church. Wouldn’t it be great to have a lot of House Churches in this community? Some Advantages…
It is a biblical model.
It is family oriented; parents and children participate together as appropriate.
People more easily get to know one another in a small group.
Smaller groups can lead to increased accountability to each other.
Everyone participates and ministers so people grow in using their spiritual gifts.
Highly trained pastors are not required in order to lead large numbers of people.
There is no need for expensive, time-consuming programs.
House churches direct their finances toward evangelism, community service, or caring for one member’s needs instead of purchasing expensive buildings.
They are low profile and thus, better able to withstand persecution and oppression.
I’m for the kingdom. I’m for Christians gathering together. I’m for Christ. I am not worried about this church, God will take care of us and will gather those who are called to be here. I personally think you can have the best of several worlds…
Let’s look more closely at Acts 2:42-47 as an example of what took place in one of the early gatherings of Christians in a home. Believers devote themselves to. . .
The Apostle’s teaching – reading, studying, and discussing God’s Word.
Fellowship – being with each other, enjoying one another, and encouraging one another.
Breaking of bread - sharing meals together and participating in the Lord’s Supper.
Prayer – praying for one another’s needs and for advancing God’s kingdom.
Being together – hanging out and living in harmony with one another.
Giving – providing for one another’s needs and for outreach.
Worship – praising and glorifying God through word and music.
It’s all about the kingdom. Lord, Come to my Messy House. As we gather in the name of Christ in our homes, may the Kingdom Grow. Enlarge your vision of church and see it as any gathering of God’s people deliberately gathering in the name of Christ to pray, to worship, to fellowship, to eat, hang out together, to study God’s word. Our messy homes are as good as anywhere. God wants to touch the lives of broken people wherever they can be found. God wants Christians to Church together/gather together. May the kingdom of God grow exponentially as the people of God gather together. May the spirit of God pour out in power as our messy homes are redeemed for the sake of the kingdom. Amen.