Many Problems are Unnecessary
So now, when you were starting to work out some of the details of these things, you wanted to get people involved in these ways even from the beginning; it was your heart. You knew God wanted this kind of involvement, but for some reason people weren’t interested. Well, I’m saying this, again, after twenty years and a pretty good understanding of God’s fruit and a lot of different cities and countries that we’re involved with and a knowledge of God’s Word, that He wants us to do what Jesus did when He began this thing that we are now living in.
Jesus didn’t lay out a bunch of rules and a bunch of techniques, and then walk away. What did He do? He came to be with them, that He might send them out. “The Word became flesh and dwelt for awhile among us” (John 1:14). He came into their midst as one who served. What Jesus did was change it from a bunch of people that were doing their own thing to a bunch of people who were totally devoted one to another. It wasn’t that He just taught them what to do, and then they did it. He walked it out with a few that He knew had a heart for it, even though they were kind of strange at times. They had a lot of problems. I think He chose people with a lot of problems to give us hope. He began to impart to them His Life. He not only taught them, but He also imparted to them. He walked with them every day. Nobody “attended” Jesus. They either walked with Him, or they weren’t a part of it. So, in the process then, it became contagious.
By the time there were 120 in the upper room, they were of one accord. The same life Jesus had with the twelve, the 120 began to have with one another. Then God added 3,000 in a single day. If you read Acts 2:42-47, you can see right away that they learned how to have that life of being totally intertwined with each other. It wasn’t a teaching that He offered to them. “Hey y’all, why don’t we all just come together, and we’ll just share everything. How about that?” That isn’t how He did it. He did it by walking with them, and they would walk with others.
What I’m going to say now may sound radical. It’s almost going to sound backwards, but you’ll like it a lot better 10 years from now, I promise. You don’t even have to believe me. But since we’re on the other side of the world, we’ll just go ahead and say it and you can ignore it later if you want to. Instead of trying to have a lot of small groups and calling them “home churches” I’d suggest bringing them all back together so that you don’t have that “strange” teaching thing that you were concerned about. So don’t break them up and assign leaders or try to have ideas of ways to stimulate organic life… “Let’s see, if we had organic life it would look like this and this, so let’s just do those things.” It doesn’t work. It’s unsustainable, and it dies out. It takes too much energy to keep it going and people don’t participate.
Instead, you keep the teaching pure and on a high level by keeping people together, and, in addition, begin to be very, very involved every day with 4 or 5 or 6 brothers. Then after a period of time you’d begin to be involved with some other brothers, and those you are involved with begin to be involved with others on that same level, the same way we raise our children.
If I see my child has a mean look in his eye, I don’t wait until he does something terrible to talk to him about it. I pull him aside and say, “What’s that look in your eye? That’s not your normal look. You’re normally a very loving child. What’s that mean look?” If he won’t really tell me, then I say, “Let’s go for a walk and we’ll go skip some stones in the water and maybe go fishing.” (I wouldn’t really do that myself. That’s just a story. I don’t like to fish. : ) ) But we would find something we could do together, and we’d try to work it out. Finally he would soften up, and he’d say, “Well, my sister made fun of me when we were running around the house. She said I ran funny and I was just mad.” “Well, that’s a silly way to think about it,” I’d say.
That’s how we begin the “Home Church Movement.” You begin to work things out just like you would with a child, instead of trying to organize or administrate or have gimmicks and programs. You try to pump them up and you end up with all these failures of teaching problems and doctrine problems. People don’t want to participate, and have to be encouraged to. You have all these things going on. Instead of that, we paid the price for the Pearl of giving our own life away, admonishing one another daily.
You can preach a sermon about admonishing one another, and how many people are going to do it? Out of 300 people, 3 or 4, probably, will begin to admonish one another daily because the Bible says so. The Bible says to admonish each other (Hebrews 3:13). It is a command like, “Don’t steal” But they’re not going to obey that command because they don’t know how. They just don’t know how.
But if instead of having a Bible Study about all the things we should do, “Confess sins to one another so you can be healed,” “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ,” “Encourage one another daily so none are hardened and deceived” (Hebrews 3:13). You can teach all those things and maybe 3 out of 300 will do something about it. Instead of doing that, remember how Jesus did it? He had multitudes following Him, but He poured Himself into a few people. The crowds were still there but He would pull a few people aside and explain to them what He just said to everyone else.
And when they had that silly look in their eye even though they didn’t say a word, Jesus said, “What are you guys talking about?” “Oh, well… who’s gonna be greatest?” Those were His children. Those were His People that He poured Himself into. He worked out with fear and trembling the details of their lives just like you would work things out with a child who has a mean look in his eye. You’d take the time to walk him through it. You wouldn’t spank him, and you certainly wouldn’t ignore it because you know something worse is going to happen if you ignore it.
Here’s what happens after a period of time. There are hundreds of people in the church in Indianapolis. There are lots of people in other places and in other cities that are walking this way too. For example, on Tuesday morning, if someone had a troubling look in their eye, there would be somebody there sometime during the day to say, “What’s wrong with you?” They know them that well, just like you know your children. They can intervene before it becomes a big problem. They can see a person who is starting to get a little distant from them, who’s starting to back away. They say, “Brother, what’s the matter?” They find out they’ve been playing on the Internet, and they’ve been doing some evil things, and their conscience has been seared. Somebody saw that before it turned into something even worse and became an addiction, and before other bad things started to happen. Probably several people were close enough to them, just like we are close to our children.
There are no “assignments.” Nobody has ever been assigned to watch over anybody else, ever.
Scott, you’ve been there 18 years. Has anybody ever been assigned to watch over you or you to watch over anybody else in 18 years? But how many people would you say are so close to you that if they see a strange look in your eye they’d say, “Brother, we need to talk. There’s something going on.”
Dozens of people are that close to him, as he is to his own son Adam, or his daughters.