Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Poor Substitute

Small groups are definitely “in” these days in most churches. If you want to be politically correct you must at least give lip service to the idea anyway. But is small a guarantee for anything. Here is a list of misplaced priorities that small groups, including house churches sometimes form around. This list is taken from Frank Viola’s book, “So You Want to Start a House Church?”

Some political viewpoint
Calvinism (‘the doctrine of grace’)
Some end-time theology (preterism, post-millenialism, or pre-tribulationism)
Spiritual gifts
‘Holy Ghost laughter’ and being ‘slain in the Spirit’
Personal Prophecy
Faith Healing
Home Schooling
Home Birthing
Social justice and helping the poor
Any man’s doctrine (the group exists to debate various doctrines from the Bible)
House churching
Social fellowship (‘hanging out’)
Doctrine of ultimate reconciliation or universalism
Eternal security
An academic Bible study
Personal Holiness
Spiritual Warfare
Health and nutrition

After looking at this list there’s a part of me that wants to say yuck to some of these things but not all of them. After all, we need a reason to get together, don’t we?

Strange how we would prefer to gather around an ‘it’ instead of “Him’. Jesus said He wanted to be the reason for our gatherings.
Matt 18:20 (NKJV) "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

I have been in way too many meetings that said they gathered around Him but somehow I found them boring, lifeless, selfish or agenda driven. (This includes way too many prayer meetings that I’ve been in and led.) I almost don’t know what it looks like to gather around Him. I hear its being done in some places in the world.

Quoting scripture in order to fool ourselves into thinking we have the reality is a poor substitute for really having Jesus in our midst. Wouldn't it be cool to be like the early disciples and only gather to be around Jesus?

Would you establish new priorities if you really thought Jesus was going to be there?


Mike said...

Well... at the end of the day, even the most ardent evangelical experiences "Jesus" as an abstraction. A phenomona of religious experience. I don't see how a group could form around such a thing - supplements will always be needed.

David Grant said...

I think for many people Jesus really is more abstraction than reality. Neevertheless, there will always be the nagging question of His resurrection. If it's not so then nothing matters any way. If it is true then changing the very nature of why and how we do things should fundamentally change as well.