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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lyzenga on House church in the USA

The last two blogs featured reposts of Simple Church Minute scripts which were originally posted in 2011, and were based on the work of Steven S. Lyzenga.  Another which would fit here I reposted on December 30, 2013.  After that comes the edition, below.
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 2155—Housechurch in the USA

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, I quote from the writings of Steven S. Lyzenga: George Barna has been described as the most widely quoted Christian leader in America because of the credibility and sound methodology behind his polling. In his book Revolution, he outlined survey results showing that the number of American Christians who see a traditionally structured church as the primary means for expressing their faith is declining rapidly. There is a corresponding large increase in the number of people who see their faith as being primarily expressed through, what Barna described as, “alternative forms of faith-based community,” in which he includes simple/house churches, home schooling associations, marketplace ministries.

With this trend so compelling, Barna estimated that by 2025 participation in
traditional local churches, alternative faith-based communities, and media/arts/culture based ministries will be about equal.
            Reggie McNeal, Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, alleged:
A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason.
They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their spiritual development.
Another Barna study found that 9% of American adults, approximately 20 million, attend a house church in any given week, which has grown from 1% in the last decade. The study estimates that more than 70 million adults have at least experimented with house church, and 20% attend at least once per month. Among those who attend church of some type, 5% attend a house church only, and 19% attend both a traditional church and a house church.
Simple church is emerging in the USA to such an extent that Barna has claimed it has now reached “critical mass.” He defined critical mass as when an institution reaches 15% market penetration, and has evidenced a consistent or growing level of affirmation for at least six years, that entity shifts from fad to trend status; and at that point, it becomes a permanent fixture in our society. Along these lines, Barna projected:
We anticipate house church attendance during any given week to double in the coming decade, and a growing proportion of house church attenders to adopt the house church as their primary faith community. That continued growth and public awareness will firmly establish the house church as a significant means of faith experience and expression among Americans.
 …(T)he (simple church) paradigm has existed throughout all Church history, from Jesus’ day to our day. In fact, it is still the prevailing wineskin in many areas of the world. In the USA however, the (simple church) concept is still in its infancy, even though as Barna statistics demonstrate and the other authors substantiate, simple churches are steadily emerging.
Roger Thoman, on his blog SimpleChurch Journal, stressed the importance of
moving past the traditional (institutional church) lens in defining the church, “Our first challenge in grasping what God intends church to be, is to stop looking at it through the lens of our background and through the lens of 2,000 years of ‘church’ as a formal institution.”
He described characteristics of those who participate in simple church as those who:

1. Are loose-knit: not informal membership, just a love-commitment to God

and each other,

2. Are Jesus followers: the basic requirement for membership in the church,

3. Gather together: to build one another up and to worship,

4. Go out: the purpose of believers… to GO with the message,

5. Are moved by the Holy Spirit: the one and only LEADER of the church,

6. Share and demonstrate the gospel: The reason that the church GOES.
DAWN, a worldwide “saturation” church-planting ministry also included the term “organic” in their definition of simple church:

The house church is a structure that reflects the core nature of the church… It is a spiritual, enlarged, organic family… It is inherently participatory and not consumer-provider driven. Its responsibility structure is also very simple and effective: individual house churches are fathered by elders, who in turn are equipped by itinerant servants like those in the fivefold ministry (see Eph. 4:11-13)… The church is the people of God. The church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. 

Wolfgang Simson summarized it distinctly, “I believe that God has blessed the world through the existing church structures, and is still doing countless miracles of transforming people’s lives, and doing good in ways too numerous to mention. But the church should never settle for less than it has been made for.” 
                    You can contact me at 757757tev@gmail.com or at 757-735-3639.
A transcript of what I said today is on my blog, tevyebird.blogspot.com, as the entry of October 13, 2011*.  For more information on simple, organic church in this area, visit www.hrscn.org.

     Except for the introduction and last paragraph, the text is composed of quotations appearing in Steven S. Lyzenga, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA  REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, p. 79, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 92 where original quotations are footnoted.  That writing can be accessed at http://house2harvest.org/docs/Simple_Churches_Releasing_Resources_S_Lyzenga.pdf .

*Today's repost is updated and better than the original post in written quality.

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