I have said a few times that I think the Church in America will eventually go underground and resemble the first church or the modern church in other countries. People will gather for worship in smaller congregation’s in house churches. This poses an interesting problem. Currently, hundreds, even thousands, show up at individual churches across the USA. These churches have between one and a small handful of pastors that minister to the many. What happens when people form small house churches out of necessity? For example, if your church had 500 worshipers on a Sunday and house churches formed, each having 20 people, you would need 25 leaders for the house churches, one leader per group.
I wrote last week that “Christians should be preparing” so they can be a shining light in the darkness that may be coming. Could it be that the Lord is preparing us Prepared Christians to be a light in our home churches and to lead them?
That would be no big deal for some of you, as I know you are leading home churches or small groups now, but for me, due to Asperger Syndrome and my rock solid (sarcasm) people skills, a conversation about the weather can be awkward. The thought of leading a small church doesn’t thrill me. I’m sure some of you might feel similarly…but Lord your will not mine be done.
One constant theme through all of scripture is that God frequently picks those who’re not perfectly suited for the task to complete it. I mean come on; he made use of an ass on Palm Sunday (lol). I believe this is so that we can see Him working in us and give Him glory for it.
But I Didn’t go to Seminary!
Just because you didn’t go to seminary doesn’t mean you aren’t able to lead a small house church. I don’t believe any of the twelve disciples had any formal training, though they had the ultimate on the job training. Jesus was frustrated with their lack of understanding many times through the New Testament. Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, did have formal schooling as a Pharisee. It wasn’t until he came to Christ that he truly understood God. My point is that you don’t have to be trained as a pastor or priest to be an effective leader in a church. Don’t misunderstand, I am not discounting seminary, I’m just saying it is not needed to be a useful instrument before God.
There are some things that you will need to have a grasp on and be comfortable doing. Below are some examples.
You will need to understand how salvation works; saved by grace, repentant of sin and welcome Jesus to come into your life. It sounds so simple, but it is a lot more complex than repeating a small prayer. Explaining why someone would give their life to Jesus, how to become saved and what that means for the rest of their life are important to understand.
I first came to the Lord as a preteen, I backslid in my late teens and had a loosely held faith until recommitting my life in my early thirties. Since then, I have really sought the Lord and His word. I could have explained at any time in my life what salvation was, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really grasped it. Then I really understood grace and the sacrifice made in my place. As I read the Word, I continue to see a deeper meaning to this life altering gift.
Praying out loud in front of people can be challenging. For me this is much harder than even talking in front of people. Part of the reason this is difficult for people is because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I don’t know, maybe we want to come off like a prayer superstar like Billy Graham, but God doesn’t need you to be a Billy Graham, He just needs you to be willing.
To get used to praying out loud I started praying out loud before family meal time. I also pray with my wife, Trudee, before bed each night and, at times, just throughout the day. It was a little clumsy at first, but over the years I have gotten more comfortable. I have had a few opportunities to pray with others, either one-on-one or in a small group, and I know that praying out loud with those closest to me has helped. I also believe that prayer with Trudee before bed has brought us closer together. If we have had a rough day with each other, we go vertical to the King and don’t let the sun set on our anger.
Your prayers do not need to be eloquent; they just need to be from your heart. There are times when I knock it out of the park and times when I stumble through. I know God doesn’t judge me, He just wants to hear from me.
When I can’t think of anything to pray, I pray The Lord’s Prayer.
Knowing the Word
I really think that in order to be a leader of a small group or house church you have to be in the Word often. When I came back to the faith I read the Bible off and on and didn’t understand what I was reading. I decided one day that I would read one chapter every morning before I got ready for work. I think making that commitment and sticking to it is what it took for God to open my eyes. It still took a while before I understood much of what I was reading, but I really grew in my faith after I made the Word a priority.
If you have a hard time, there are several programs that will help you read the entire Bible in one year. You can do an Internet search for “read the Bible in one year” and take your pick. If you need help understanding events and different cultural things, a concordance is something you might want to look into.
If you find the timeline confusing because it jumps back and forth, you might like The Story, NIV: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People. As the title says, it is one continuous story. You won’t have to try and figure out which events happened when. For example, in all of the Gospels, it follows the life of Jesus from beginning to end. In The Story just has one flowing narrative.
I personally don’t think you need to be able to quote chapter and verse at the drop of a hat. I don’t have the kind of mind that can remember things verbatim. But I can remember key points and themes just fine. I think having a grasp on concepts is more important than memorizing passages word-for-word. In order to do that, you still have to read it and let the Spirit open your mind.
Other Ways to Grow
Some people like daily devotionals. Some people like groups that meat each week and share faith. When I drove to work every day, I would listen to a Podcast of Chip Ingram and Living On The Edge. Chip is on many radio stations, but I downloaded them on iTunes. You can also listen to them from Living On The Edge. They have a HUGE amount of material geared at helping small groups. I have to admit that this area isn’t my strong suit. I found what worked for me and quit looking. If any of you have other great resources to help others grow in their faith, please list them in the comment sections.
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