Wednesday, January 5, 2011

House Church - Seeking Community

One of the core aspects of the house church is community.

With Jesus Christ as its head, the church seeks to live in community with one another. The people truly desire to share in each others lives. This is much more than surface level relationships; I'm instead talking about Christians acting like family - real brothers and sisters. This, of curse, can get messy because people's lives are messy. However, it is also wonderful because we can know so much better how to build one another up in Christ.

As we look at the book of Acts in particular, we see much community:

Acts 2:42-47, "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."

Acts 4:32-35, "Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need."

I'm not claiming that all we read in Acts 2 and 4 occurs when we gather together. Rather, I want to stress the desire to have the sort of community we read about in the early church.

As we strive to live in community with each other, we attempt to carry out the "one anothers" of scripture. These exhortations are both numerous and challenging. Here are some of them:

Romans 12:10, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."

Romans 12:16, "Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited."

Romans 15:7, "Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God."

Romans 15:14, "I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another."

I Corinthians 11:33-34, "So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another - if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home - so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come."

II Corinthians 13:11-12, "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss."

Galatians 5:13, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

Ephesians 4:1-3, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

Ephesians 5:18-21, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

I Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

Hebrews 3:13, "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."

Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

James 5:16, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

I Peter 4:8-10, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."

I John 4:11-12, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."

In the house church we attempt to live out the biblical one anothers. As we do so, true community develops. The house setting is ideal for this because it restrains the number of people present and provides a relaxed atmosphere where much conversation can take place.

In order to live in community the church needs to do more than meet once per week. The one anothers should be happening all the time. As Christians, we should all be striving for this.

As for our fellowship, when we gather together we have more structured and less structured times. My hope and prayer is that all of it is edifying. The community aspect runs through the entire gathering. It seems to take different forms at different times. When we are seated together studying the bible, praying, singing, etc., everyone is free to participate and is encouraged to do so. In this, we desire to give every person the opportunity to add to the gathering.

The greatest community time may actually occur during the less structured times of the gatherings. Much of this corresponds to the Lord's Supper. As we are eating in smaller groups, there is time to share our hopes, struggles, desires, etc. This gives all sorts of opportunity to speak words of encouragement and be spoken to. This often happens best (for me anyway) when I'm in a group of men. I imagine there is something the ladies enjoy about being together as well. We've all experienced that there are certain things you can say - in the good sense here - when only one gender is involved.

It is interesting that almost every Christian I talk to these days senses the need for more community. This is likely one of the reasons why so many traditional churches are moving toward some sort of small group format. I think this is an excellent change.

Regardless of our church home, let's all do our best - through the power the Spirit supplies - to carry out these one anothers and live in community with one another. This is not something that the house church has any sort of monopoly on.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are in community with one another whether we like it or not. Now let's embrace it.


Scott said...

Love these! I have never done a biblical"one anothers" analysis like this. I will certainly steal these to lead a good church meeting.

show honor
Live in harmony
wait for
live in peace
Greet with a holy kiss
be humble
be gentle
be patience
show kindness
be tenderhearted
stir up
meet together
Show hospitality
keep loving

Brother Scott ><>

Scott said...

Mark 9:50 (ESV)
50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Romans 14:13 (ESV)
13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

John 13:14 (ESV)
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

Acts 15:39 (NAS)
39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

1 Thessalonians 4:18 (NAS)
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

James 5:9 (NAS)
9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

Ooooooppps - what are we gonna do with this one !

Acts 15:39 (NAS)
39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Eric said...


The "one anothers" sure are challenging. Doing a study of these (and this is only a partial list) would be healthy for any church. Imagine what it would look like if we really lived these out. The world would even sit up and take notice.