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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another strategic idea

Over the past two plus years, since I begun to be introduced to the idea of simple church, my views on various things have changed according to my seeing how I was holding to an idea based on scripture plus a cultural tradition.  For instance, at the beginning of my reading, I found that there was one home church in my metro area that met on a weekday, but it was over 50 miles away, on the opposite side of my metro area.  At the time, I rejected the idea of going to that one on the idea that the house church would be made up of persons who physically lived close together.  Now, I will say that, while physical proximity is reasonable at most places in most cultures over most of history, in suburban western culture, who our neighbors are are influenced more by where we work, and who we have gotten to know over physical location. 
Be that as it may, I have had the time to consider how to make contact with my geographic neighbors, given that in a middle class neighborhood such as I live in, persons two doors away are strangers.  Everyone tends to have their places of work, and hide in their "palaces" upon return home.  The one social condition that breaks this situation is children of similar age who get to know each other through school, or other youth activities (sports, lessons, scouts, etc.)  My thinking was if I could produce a flyer that would introduce myself, and say something that could be thought provoking so as to produce response from either the open-minded not-yet-believer and the believer that may be struggling with how they fit into the organization.  As of yet, I haven't passed this out to anyone, and so I haven't a clue as to how well or poorly it will work in generating conversation, but I put it out here as a strategic idea.  Some of this is my personal story, so it would demand some change for anyone else to use it, but here it is, if it helps someone.
This just nicely fills one 8 1/2 x 11 page in 11 point type.
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My name is (my name).  I live at (my address).  My phone number is (my phone number).
I am not selling anything.
I became a believer in the message of Jesus in 1968, when I was 15.  About three and a half years ago, I found myself owning a business in which over 90% of the sales, and the connected work, happened on Saturday and Sunday.  I experientially discovered something obvious, which was the institutional, traditional church I was going to, along with most similar organizations were quite inflexible with regard to the life I lived.  I agree with evangelical Christian theology and, in turn, morality, but my job didn’t let me fit into the structure.  I was aware that the structure wasn’t something commanded by God, so I looked for a church that met some other time.  I actually found one on the far other end of the metro area, but didn’t feel comfortable driving that far (I probably would have today).
I have come to realize that, to early Christians, who were an underground group in their society, church was roughly synonymous with “group”.  The Bible teaches that it is a group of people who meet together to worship Jesus (Ac. 2:41-47) and build up each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  Buildings, regular collection of money, people paid to lead a group, and rituals were not part of church, a gathering of believers.  A part of “build up each other” is that the group is small enough that everyone knows each other.

If you are a believer in Jesus that hasn’t been involved in an organization this society calls a church because you don’t fit in somehow (and there’s myriad ways to not fit in), give me a call.  If you aren’t a believer in Jesus, but find Him interesting, but the organizations purporting to represent Him to be not so interesting, give me a call also.

If you want to learn more about worshipping Jesus without culturally imposed structure and ritual, but don’t want to talk to me or some other person, here are some places on the web I’d recommend to get information:

http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/ –a European point of view
thegodjourney.com –a podcast (no www.)
shapevine.com (no www.)
http://www.searchingtogether.org/ –deals with theological details
thejesusvirus.org (no www.)
www.housechurchresource.org
www.hrscn.org –connected to believers involved in simple worship in the Hampton Roads area
tevyebird.blogspot.com (no www.) –my blog—in the December 2010 archieves are the scripts to 100 two minute commentaries (written for radio) that cover various subjects on right practice in true gatherings of believers

Note:  I am in no way saying that many good hearted believers in traditional churches are wrong, but that there is an organizational structure that is devoid of scriptural merit.

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