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Christian Living

Who Teaches You?

Do Sermons Belong in Church?

We go to church to learn about God, right? So sermons belong in church, right?

Who told you that? It was likely the minister at your local church. That’s who I’ve heard it from, and church is always the place where I heard it.

Isn’t that self-serving?

Think about it. A church hires a preacher. The church pays the preacher. The preacher tells us we need to be in church every Sunday to learn about God and that he is the one to teach us. One of the things he teaches us is to give money to the local church, often 10 percent of our income.

Why does the local church need money so badly? In large part, it’s to pay the preacher. The greatest expense at almost all churches is payroll, usually over half of their total budget, sometimes much more.

We don’t need preachers to teach us; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Click To Tweet

So we hire someone who tells us we need him and then asks for money so he can stick around. If we didn’t revere our preachers so much and cling to our sacrosanct practices, I’d call this a racket.

As I read about the church in the New Testament, there is plenty of preaching. But I wonder if sermons belong in church. In the Bible, the preaching is always directed at those who are not following Jesus, the folks outside the church.

Yes, there is teaching inside the church, but I’ve not yet found any passage that says it happens every Sunday or is given by paid staff. In the examples I see, missionaries do the teaching when they come to visit or the congregation instructs one another as they share with each other.

John writes to the church and tells them plainly: “You do not need anyone to teach you.” Then he clarifies: “His anointing teaches you about all things.”

So it is God’s anointing, the Holy Spirit, who reveals truth to us. Therefore, we don’t need anyone to teach us, especially a paid preacher. John says so.

I suppose, then, if we go to church to learn, what the preacher should be telling us is how to listen to the Holy Spirit. Once we’ve learned that, the preacher’s job is done; we don’t need him to teach us anymore.

God’s anointed one will teach us and reveal truth to us. Then we can spend Sunday mornings sharing with each other what we’ve learned through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

But that will never happen. Preachers need to be needed, and they need us to pay them. They would never say anything to work themselves out of a job.

They want their paychecks too badly to tell us plainly what John said and what his words truly mean for the church of Jesus: We don’t need preachers to teach us; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.

[1 John 2:27]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Don’t Be a Baby Christian

Learn How to Eat Spiritual Food and Feed Yourself

The author of Hebrews (who I suspect was Paul) warns the young church, the followers of Jesus, that they need to grow up. Though many of them should be mature enough to teach others, they still haven’t grasped the basics themselves.

They persist in drinking spiritual milk when they should have graduated to solid food.

A Baby Christian

When most people hear about this passage, they assume the baby Christians, those subsisting on milk, are other people. They reason that this verse couldn’t be a reflection on their own spiritual status—or lack thereof.

The truth is that I fear the church of Jesus is comprised of too many spiritual infants.

If you don’t believe me, let’s unpack this analogy. In the physical sense, babies drink milk and are wholly dependent on others to feed them. As babies grow they graduate to solid food and begin to feed themselves, first with help and then alone.

This is how things function with our physical bodies and how things should function with our spiritual selves.

Mature Christians can feed themselves and don’t need a sermon every Sunday. Click To Tweet

The Sunday Sermon

So when people go to church on Sunday to hear a sermon, they expect their pastor to feed them. They subsist on spiritual milk. They are a baby Christian. Instead they should feed themselves and don’t need to hear a sermon every week in order to obtain their spiritual sustenance.

When pastors feed their congregation each Sunday, they keep their people in an immature state (albeit with more head knowledge) and help justify their continued employment. Instead pastors should teach their church attendees how to feed themselves, to not need a pastor to teach them.

If ministers do this, they could work themselves out of a job. But that’s okay, because there are plenty of other churches in need of this same teaching.

Some might infer this means that the mature Christians, those who can feed themselves, don’t need to go to church. This is only half correct.

Mature Christians can feed themselves and don’t need a sermon every Sunday, but they do need to meet together and be in community with other believers.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hebrews 5-7, and today’s post is on Hebrews 5:12-14.]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

A Familiar Place

We attended this church years ago. This won’t be a visit as much as a reunion. It’s a familiar place.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #44

1. The building is twenty-five years old and well-maintained. Too many church buildings show neglect, repelling people instead of inviting them. 

What are some low-cost ways you can upgrade the appearance of your church facility?

2. The worship team has a full sound, upbeat and energetic, yet most of the congregation stands stoic. They’re spectators. 

How can you be an example to encourage others to participate more fully in worship?

3. Without a pulpit, the pastor moves to a tall table with two chairs, giving a coffee shop vibe. He introduces today’s topic, and then takes a dramatic pause while taking a sip of tea. He’s not preaching a sermon, as much as having a conversation. 

How can your church service better connect with today’s audience? What will you say to those who don’t like the change?

4. The sermon is about our creed. The minister concludes by asking two questions: “What do you believe?” and “How are you living it out?” 

How do you live out your faith?

This church is a familiar place that provided positive outcomes.

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Key Questions from Churches 14 through 26

Discussing Churches 14-26

For the past twenty-six weeks we’ve sought to expand our understanding of how others worship God.

Consider these two discussion questions about the second part of our journey: 

1. I now realize that church is not about the teaching or music. It’s about community. 

How can your church foster community and promote meaningful connections?

2. Consumerism is rampant in today’s church. People seek a church with the most engaging speaker and entertaining musicians. They stay until a better preacher or music comes along. 

They are church consumers, looking for the best value.

How can you move your church away from a consumer mindset? From church consumers?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

We Need to Stop Interpreting Scripture Through the Lens of Our Practices

The Bible should inform our actions, not justify our habits

Christianity has its traditions and religious practices. We often persist in them with unexamined acceptance. And if we do question our behaviors, we can often find a verse in the Bible to justify them. But that doesn’t make them right.

The Lens of Scripture

We need to interpret the Bible through the lens of Scripture and not from the perspective of our own practices. The Bible is the starting point, not the ending. When we begin with what we do today and work backwards, looking to the Bible for support, we will usually find it, but we may be in error.

Consider the following.

Church Attendance

The Bible says to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). Most people interpret this as a command to go to church. That’s not what the verse says. This command is a call to Christian community.

This may happen at church on a Sunday morning, but it could also happen at a different location the other 167 hours of the week. This meeting together thing happens whenever two or three are gathered in his name.

The point of this verse is that we shouldn’t attempt to live our faith in isolation.

Communion

Another area is our practice of communion. We even read the Bible when we partake. This makes us wrongly conclude that our celebration of communion is biblical. It’s not. The context of communion is at home with family, not as part of a church service. We’re doing communion wrong.

Sermon

Why do we have a sermon every Sunday at church? Because it’s in the Bible, right? Yet biblical preaching is to those outside the church.

You’ve heard the phrase, “preaching to the choir,” which is understood as the futility of telling people the things they already know. Yet preaching to the choir is effectively what we do at most churches every Sunday. Preaching is for people outside the church.

Worship Music

Why does a significant portion of our Sunday service include music? While singing to God is prevalent throughout the Bible, it’s interesting to note that nowhere in the New Testament is the use of musical instruments mentioned.

Does this mean our singing to God should be a capella? It’s worth considering.

And the idea of having a worship leader is also an anathema to the biblical narrative. When we gather together we should all be prepared to share and to participate, which might include leading the group in a song.

Sunday School

The justification for Sunday School—aside from tradition and “that’s the way we’ve always done it”—often comes from the Old Testament verses to train up a child (Proverbs 22:6) and teach your children (Deuteronomy 11:19 and Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

But who’s to do this training? The parents. Delegating this critical job to the church is lazy parenting.

But if we’re going to persist in the practice, let’s at least give Sunday School a meaningful purpose.

Tithing

Giving 10 percent is an Old Testament thing. The New Testament never commands us to tithe. Think about that the next time you hear a minister say we’re supposed to give 10 percent to the local church. That’s wrong. Though tithing might be a spiritual discipline, it’s not a command.

Offerings

Though there is some basis for the Sunday offering, we’ve co-opted it into something it wasn’t meant to be. Paul’s instruction to take up a collection each week was for the express purpose of giving money to those in need (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). How much of a church’s weekly offering goes to that?

Church Buildings

Though the Old Testament had their Temple and the Jewish people added synagogues, the New Testament followers of Jesus met in homes and sought to connect with others in public spaces.

The idea of building churches didn’t occur until a few centuries later. Church facilities cost a lot of money and take a lot of time, distracting us from what is more important.

In the Bible, Peter says we are all priests, and Paul says we should minister to each other. Click To Tweet

Paid Staff

The concept of professional, paid clergy also didn’t occur until a couple centuries after the early church started. Peter tells us that we are all priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9), and Paul tells us that we should minister to each other (1 Corinthians 14:26).

When we pay staff to do what we’re supposed to be doing ourselves, we’re subjugating our responsibility and acting with laziness. Paul set a great example, often paying his own way on his missionary journeys. Today’s ministers should consider this. Seriously.

Read the Bible

Prior posts have touched on these subjects in greater detail. They might be worth considering as you contemplate the above items. We persist in these practices out of habit and under the assumption that the Bible commands us to do so.

We conclude this because we read the Bible wearing blinders, focusing our attention on our practices and seeking to find them supported in the Bible.

It’s time we reexamine everything we do through the lens of Scripture and make needed changes. And if we do, it will be a game-changer.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Tips in Selecting Sermon Podcasts

Carefully Choose the Messages You Hear

I listen to a lot of podcasts each week. Since I work at home and my wife doesn’t, I often eat lunch by myself. This is an ideal time to listen to podcasts. I also listen when I take my daily walk—at least each day when the weather is nice enough to go out. I once subscribed to many sermon podcasts, hearing over fifteen each week.

I know what you’re thinking: that’s too many. I agree. Over time, I fell behind, grew overwhelmed at my backlog of not-listened-to messages, and began unsubscribing from the less beneficial ones. Yes, not all sermons are equally valuable.

I culled the number of sermon podcast feeds I was following. I now listen to just two, though I may up the number to three. (Most of the other podcasts I now follow relate to writing and publishing, but some of those have stopped producing content, giving me the space to add another to my list of sermon podcasts.)

When I began cutting back on my sermon podcasts habit, I scrutinized the value of each one.

Merely Entertaining

The first to go were the messages that were more entertaining than educational. Though they tickled my mind with intriguing soundbites or had a compelling delivery, they did little to challenge me or provide spiritual enlightenment.

Nothing New

Next to go were the sermon podcasts that told me what I already knew. With so many better options out there, I saw no point to persist in repetition.

Knowledge Without Application

Third on my list of sermon podcasts I unsubscribed from were the ones that only gave information with no application. Though my mind expanded from this new-to-me insight, my life didn’t change. There was no point in continuing. As Paul wrote, “knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). I didn’t want to be a puffy follower of Jesus.

Life-Changing Insight

I ended up with two podcasts that challenged my thinking. They provided me with fresh insights. These messages enhanced my comprehension of God, expanded my understanding of how I could best fit in his world, and provided actionable challenge. In short, these podcasts produced life change. And that’s the point.

Which Sermon Podcasts?

You may want to know which messages I now listen to. Not to be mean, but I won’t tell you. This is for two reasons.

The first is that the list of podcasts I subscribe to will surely change in the future, so what I post today will not be accurate tomorrow.

Select sermon podcasts that produce life change. Click To Tweet

The second, and more important, reason is the podcasts impactful to me may not be meaningful to you. That is, the sermons that give me new insights or fresh perspectives may be things you’ve already heard. You don’t need to hear them again. On the other hand, podcasts that may repeat information for me may be exactly what you need.

This means we each need to carefully make our own list of sermon podcasts and online messages to listen too. May we choose wisely.

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Christian Living

Realign our Church Practices of Music and Message

We Must Rethink What Happens at Our Church Services

A friend once said in his Sunday morning message that some people go to church for the music and put up with the sermon. Others go for the sermon and put up with the music.

The minister’s statement suggests that people feel a church service has two primary elements. One is the worship music, and the other is the sermon: music and message.

I get this. At one point in my life I endured the singing as I waited for the teaching. Then my perspective flopped as I pursued worship and endured the sermon. Now neither matters too much to me.

In recent years I’ve not gone to church for the music nor the message. I show up for the chance of experiencing meaningful community before or after the service.

Put Music or Message in Its Place

Though the New Testament talks about both music and message, neither seems central to their meetings, especially not the way we pursue these two items today.

Music: Though music is a part of Jesus’s church, it emerges more as a secondary pursuit. Paul doesn’t ascribe music to a worship leader but to each person gathered. The purpose of this is to build up Jesus’s church (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Music is part of the one another commands as a way of ministering to each other (Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18–19).

An interesting side note is that the New Testament never mentions using musical instruments in their worship of God, as happened throughout the Old Testament. This doesn’t imply that our church singing today should be a cappella, but this is something we might want to contemplate.

Sometimes New Testament singing to God happens apart from a church gathering, such as when Paul and Silas are sitting in jail (Acts 16:25). Let’s consider how we can apply their example to our reality today.

Sometimes the music set at one of today’s church services is worshipful, drawing us into closer fellowship with God. But too often it’s more of a performance for attendees then a tribute to our creator.

This makes the music portion at some churches more akin to a concert, even to the point of including a light show, smoke machines, and accompanying video projection behind the performers.

And if you claim our church worship time isn’t a performance, then why are the singers and musicians positioned in front of everyone and elevated on a stage? If the music is truly a tribute to God and not a performance for us, then why not station the musicians behind the congregation or out of sight so their presence won’t distract us from God?

Message: Another friend calls the church sermon a lecture. I’m not sure if he’s joking or serious, but I get his point. I’ve heard sermons that so sidestepped the Bible, faith, and the good news of Jesus that the resulting words were no different than a lecture from a secular speaker.

There are, however, three instances where New Testament writers describe activity that we might equate to a sermon. These are in specific situations.

The first is educating people about their faith (Acts 2:42). This implicitly is for new believers, giving them spiritual milk as we would feed a baby (1 Corinthians 3:1–3). This basic training grows them in their salvation (1 Peter 2:1–3).

It prepares them to teach others (Hebrews 5:11–14). It’s not something to persist in Sunday after Sunday. Instead it’s a temporary situation we should grow out of.

The second is missionaries who tell those outside the church about Jesus. This can’t happen at a church meeting because those who need to hear the good news of Jesus aren’t there.

Spreading the gospel message requires going out to encounter people where they are, not expecting them to come to us and our church services (Acts 8:4, Acts 8:40, Romans 10:14–15, and 2 Corinthians 10:16).

And the third is traveling missionaries who give updates at the local churches (Acts 14:27, Acts 15:4, and Acts 20:7).

Everyone Participates: Regarding these two elements of music and message—that we place so much emphasis on in our churches today—Paul gives instructions to the church in Corinth. It’s not the job of a worship leader to lead us in song.

Nor is it the role of a minister to preach a sermon. We—the people in attendance—are to do these things, and more, for each other. It’s an egalitarian gathering where we all take part for our common good to build up Jesus’s church (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Remember, through Jesus, we are all priests. It’s time we start acting like it.

Community

What does show up as a reoccurring theme throughout the New Testament is community. But this goes way beyond the time of personal interaction that I seek before or after a Sunday service.

The church, as a group of people, should major in community, on getting along and experiencing life together. Community should happen before, during, and after all our gatherings—both those on Sunday, as well as throughout the week. In all that we do, community must be our focus.

We should enjoy spending time with each other, just hanging out.

If we don’t like spending time with the people we see for an hour each Sunday morning, then something’s wrong: not with them, but with us. Yes, community can get messy.

But we have Jesus’s example, the Holy Spirit’s insight, and the Bible’s wisdom to guide us in navigating the challenges that erupt when people spend time with each other in intentional interaction.

Here are some of the aspects of community that we see in the early church, and that we can follow in today’s church.

Share Meals: A lot of eating takes place in Jesus’s church. We must feed our bodies to sustain us physically, so why not do it in the company of other like-minded people?

In community, sharing food becomes a celebration of life and of faith. (Read more about breaking bread in “10 More New Testament Practices, Part 2”.)

Fast: Although Jesus’s followers do a lot of eating together, they also fast (Matthew 6:16–17 and Acts 14:23). Fasting is an intentional act of devotion that helps connect us with God and align our perspectives with his.

Remember that although Jesus’s disciples didn’t fast, once he left, it was time for his followers to resume fasting (Luke 5:33–35).

Prayer: Another reoccurring New Testament theme is prayer. This isn’t a minister-led oration on Sunday morning. This is more akin to a mid-week prayer meeting, with everyone gathered in community to seek God in prayer together (Acts 1:14 and Acts 12:5).

Listen to the Holy Spirit: As the people pray, sometimes associated with fasting, they listen to the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28). Then they obey what the Holy Spirit calls them to do (Acts 13:2–3).

Minister to One Another: In their community they follow the Bible’s one another commands, which teach us how to get along in a God-honoring way. (See treat one another.”)

Serve Others: We serve one another in our faith community (Galatians 5:13). We should also serve those outside our church, just as Jesus served others. And we shouldn’t serve with any motive other than with the pure intent to show them the love of Jesus.

Loving others through our actions may be the most powerful witness we can offer. We need to let our light shine so that the world can see (Matthew 5:14–16 and James 2:14–17). All of humanity is watching. May they see Jesus in what we do (1 Peter 2:12).

Tell Others about Jesus: The New Testament gives examples of people telling others about Jesus in their local community (Acts 3:11–26 and Acts 7:1–53). It also mentions sending people out into the world as missionaries (Acts 8:4–5 and Acts 13:2).

Witnessing, both local and abroad, springs from the foundation of community.

We need to rethink what happens at our church, deemphasizing the significance of music and message while elevating the importance of community, one that functions in unity for Jesus. Click To Tweet

Unity

In our community we should pursue harmony. Jesus prayed that we would be one (John 17:20–21). The early church modeled unity (Acts 4:32). We also covered unity in the “The Acts 4 Example.”

When issues arise among Jesus’s followers that threaten their single-mindedness, they work through it to avoid division (Acts 11:1–18). This unity includes the agreement of their theology (Acts 15:1–21).

Conclusion

We need to rethink what happens at our church, deemphasizing the significance of music and message while elevating the importance of community, one that functions in unity for Jesus.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

What We Can’t Get from Online Church

Embrace the Benefits of Meeting Together

When we can’t attend church, to meet in person, and must experience a service online, does that count as going to church? The essential parts of the service are the same. There is music, a message, and a prayer or two. For these three key elements, the result is the same whether we experience them in person or remotely from a distance.

In addition, we may hear announcements, see a communion celebration, and even watch ushers take the collection. These last two elements are a bit harder for us to engage with online. Yet we can embrace them too. For communion we can experience the spiritual aspect of the rite without partaking in the physical elements. And for the offering, we can always give online or mail a check.

Yes, when we must attend church online much of the experience is the same as if we were there and able to meet in person. And we can make accommodations so that the physical separation doesn’t affect the overall outcome.

Yet some considerations remain that cannot happen in absentia.

Interaction

Watching the service online removes all opportunity for interaction with others, aside from those sitting in the same room with us. This means we can’t wave to people, talk with friends, or offer a smile. To experience these exchanges requires being in the same physical space, not a virtual one that occurs online.

Connection

Beyond the basic interactions of talking with others or relating through nonverbal communication, we have a chance to enjoy a meaningful connection. This can occur when the socially acceptable question of “how are you?” goes beyond the rote response of “fine” to allow the space and time for the true answer to emerge. This significant sharing enables the opportunity for a deeper interaction that forms, or reinforces, a personal connection.

In some cases, this personal sharing of information might provide the opportunity to pray for someone or offer help in a tangible way. These things can’t take place when the online experience isolates viewers from each other.

Community

Interaction is a great start and connection moves relationships forward, but the goal is forming community with one another. Again, worthwhile community is hard—though not impossible—to pursue and develop over the internet. In person, face-to-face contact strengthens community. This applies to physical community and sacred community. Both are important for our mental health and spiritual well-being.

We should embrace the opportunity to spend time with one another. Click To Tweet

Meet in Person

Sometimes we cannot meet in person with other followers of Jesus. Yet whenever the occasion arises, we should embrace the opportunity to spend time with one another. This will allow for personal interaction, meaningful connection, and spiritual community to take place.

This may be why the writer of Hebrews reminds us to not give up meeting together. Instead we are to gather and encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Stay Home to Go to Church

Ideas for Having a House Church

Over the years there have been times when I couldn’t go to church. I’m not talking about the Sundays I was ill or traveling. Instead, I’m referring to times when the church canceled its service. These have included weather-related problems, power outages, no heat, and construction issues. Each of these instances affected only one Sunday, and the next week everything returned to normal.

However, I can now add another reason to this list of why churches may close: to stop the spread of a potentially deadly virus in the midst of a health pandemic. When this occurs, we stay in our home for church. We have house church.

Here are some ideas to have church at home.

Duplicate a Typical Service

We could plan for and provide the elements of one of today’s church services in our home. This means having someone lead worship, pray, and teach a lesson at our house church. If we wanted, we could even take an offering.

This provides the opportunity for better interaction and greater participation. It also requires a great deal of preparation for those who will lead. The more people who will gather in our home to experience this type of church, the more meaningful this can become. Doing this one time would be hard. It would be even more challenging to sustain it over many weeks.

Participate Online

As an alternative, we have many options online that can bring a church service into our home. These include podcasts of sermons, videos of services (either in part or in full), and live streaming. From the comfort of our home we can listen to messages or watch services as they take place. This allows us to experience the main elements of a church service with little preparation or effort.

What we lack from this approach, however, is community. Aside from our small gathering of family or friends who sit in our living room to experience our house church, we have no opportunity to interact with others. These online options do not include the ability to connect with other followers of Jesus.

Just Hang Out

To address the lack of community that will occur when we passively tap into online church services and resources, we have the option to get together with the goal of spending time with each other (see Hebrews 10:25). Of course, if only the people in our house—who we’ve already been hanging out with all week—are present, we won’t gain much more in doing so on Sunday. However, if we can invite friends or neighbors over, this could provide meaningful, spiritual community—if we pursue it with intention.

A house church is where everyone can participate, and everyone can take turns ministering to one another. Click To Tweet

Follow Paul’s Advice on a House Church

Each of these three approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. However, Paul gives us some ideas of what we could do for house church in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:26). For now, don’t focus on Paul’s list but let’s look at the phrase that precedes it: “each of you.” This suggests an egalitarian house church, where everyone can participate, and everyone can take turns ministering to one another.

Can we do that? Of course, we can. (Read more about Paul’s house church instructions.)

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Great Teaching, But Something’s Wrong (Visiting Church #49)

With hundreds of people milling about, it’s a packed place. Just inside the door, a man approaches. “Have I met you before?” We assure him he hasn’t but he thinks he should know us anyway. He’s wearing an ear mic.

I wonder if he’s the pastor, but if he is, he doesn’t say so, merely introducing himself as John.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

Almost all the ministers we’ve met attached their title to their name when they introduced  themselves. John possesses neither the ego nor the insecurity to do so. I immediately like him.

Later, I’m not surprised when John walks up to the podium to give the message. He doesn’t preach a sermon as much as he teaches a lesson. He’s good, really good, the best we’ve heard on our journey.

Though a couple of preachers have been more dynamic, he’s the most effective communicator. This all makes sense when we learn he’s a former seminary professor with a PhD in biblical history.

At one point John tells members to look around after the service for visitors to greet. Though he modeled this when he met us, no one followed his example then or his instruction now, not even the man sitting in front of us wearing a Deacon nametag; he looks right through us.

Only one couple approaches us; they look vaguely familiar. The wife recognized Candy; we attended the same church a quarter of a century ago. Aside from them and John, six or seven hundred other people ignore us, perhaps not caring or maybe assuming someone else will take the initiative to extend a welcome.

If you want to remain anonymous at church, a big one is where it can happen. And at this church, it’s painfully easy.

[Read about Church #48 and Church #50, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #49.]

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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.