House to House with Tears
Do you know what? I really believe that it’s absolutely time for this change, but we are not at that level.
Why not? We should be.
As a congregation, I don’t know if we are at that level and have the freedom…
If we are Christians, then we should be.
Yes, we should be…we should be. I am absolutely sure that the leader is so open to this, always.
He said he was. We talked about it.
Actually, this has happened already in our congregation in smaller groups where someone stood up and shared.
Are you saying that even with 1,500 people we can do that?
Oh, absolutely. It can happen, yes.
Exactly! It can happen, I agree. But I am not sure if we are ready.
I believe you, and actually you are both right. The potential is there, but some things need to happen before you would be ready. And I can tell you what’s missing.
Maybe the leadership would be ready if the goal was learned? Maybe the leaders need to be the ones to give the vision.
Well, that would make it a cork in the bottle again though, wouldn’t it? : ) Here’s what I would say is the missing link or the missing step. As it is right now, the leader uses his gift primarily as a teaching gift, but he can use it more as an equipping gift than he does. I think he has begun using it as an equipping gift with the four other leaders and with others.
Yes, that’s true.
Remember that Paul was a father and a mother and a brother. He went from house to house, night and day with tears. I’m sure this man has been in people’s houses and he’s shed tears in many people’s homes, but I’m speaking of something a little bigger than that. Let’s say he was in your home for dinner and you were talking together, and one of you shared something that had been burning inside of you. He would say, “I believe that you are very right about that. I would also add this other thought to it. Can you feel the peace of what I just added which helps fill it in a little bit?” And you say, “Yes!” So the seed-thought was yours, and he helps equip you with some additional building. And he says, “Would you be willing to share that with more people on a larger scale? I’ll help you do that.”
By helping bridge intermediary things like that, he can facilitate the very change from who he has been to who he could become. Right now if someone set up a microphone and said, “Revelation has come to the second, would you please sit down” there would be chaos, and that would be unfair to everyone.
Yes, of course.
It would be wrong because no one is ready for that. I think you’re right. You might then have a very immature person or a guest whom you don’t know, or even a heretic speaking whenever they want.
But I think if the congregation is open for these changes, then it can happen. It could. I can imagine that!
Do you think we should move with the children?
Not necessarily. The Lord determines the exact times and places where men should live, as you know. If the time comes to move, you might do that. But living closer together won’t necessarily fix everything.
We knew a group of about 2,000 people that were part of a certain congregation. They came to us to talk about exactly the same things. They had four people that were assigned to be in charge and those four people made all the decisions. They did all the teaching. The people would comment on the teaching, but they didn’t really have the same ability to open their hearts from Jesus the way the four leaders did. So, they knew they had some growth to experience in their body of believers about all of these same things. Some people were jealous, ambitious and prideful and fought against it, and others welcomed the ideas and wanted the changes.
Now why did I bring up that group of folks? I can’t remember…maybe just because of the expression of one of their leaders who said, “We’re like a great barge in a river or in a harbor. It is such a large, heavy barge. It’s very difficult to turn around, so this is going to take a little bit of time to accomplish this turn-around. But we have to start some place!”
We were saying that these things are possible between us and you said you had the missing link.
Oh yes, I remember now. We were talking about living close together. Is that an asset? It’s definitely an asset. It’s valuable to live near each other because when I take my garbage out to the street for the city trucks to pick up, I’m liable to run into brothers and sisters. We can talk and we pray. We share about our children or our situations. We have more daily life if we’re closer because we don’t have to make a big trip of it. You don’t have to load everyone into the car and make sure you have enough food supplies. It’s not an “event” to go visit brothers or sisters; it can happen very spontaneously. If I have something I need to ask about or pray about, I can just run out my front door. It’s just easy to do that.
Back to the congregation I was telling you about. There were perhaps 2,000 people and of that number, about 200 of them lived in exactly the same neighborhood right outside each other’s doors. But here’s what they said to me, “We thought living close together would help us have life together. But I live about 50 meters from this brother (two of the leaders were there and one of them was referring to the other) and I have never been in his house, ever.” My point is, quality of life and geography isn’t necessarily the same thing. Only if you have quality of life does the geography become a very valuable thing.
Everyone lives where they live for a reason. It’s either because they like the climate or they like the house or financially it’s easier. Everyone lives where they live for some reason. The highest reason is, “Seek first the Kingdom and let all these things be added to you.” Then if we have quality of life between us because we open our hearts to each other, we’ll find it inconvenient to live 30-40 minutes away.
We have people that lived a 45-minute drive away. They had a large, beautiful house on property with a lake, a barn, and some woods, and a beautiful creek running through it. They could fish and ride horses. But 45 minutes away was much too far for them. They eventually built a house 100 yards from us so that they could live closer. They wanted to live very close so they could be with us. They were already with us almost every day anyway.
And they left all that?
They still own the property but have been trying to sell it for five years now. They now have a house that’s halfway between Kevin’s and mine, and that’s where they spend most of their time. They’ll go back out to the other property to run a tractor over the lawn or make sure the house is clean when potential buyers come to look at it. But their life is with us every day. In the past, they would drive 45 minutes almost every day to be with us so that they could share life every day, and it was inconvenient to drive that many miles all the time. They wanted to live in a way that it could happen spontaneously rather than with such great effort.
If what you’re doing with your whole life is seeking first the Kingdom, then living close is valuable because the gifts can be shared in daily life. Deuteronomy 6 and 11 says, “As we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way.” That’s God’s plan for sharing the love of God and the teachings of God. You can add a pulpit to it, but that can’t be central to the way. That’s why Jesus came “in the midst as one who serves.” “The life became the light of men.” It wasn’t that the sermon became the light of men. It was that the Life became the light of men. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” It wasn’t that the Word became flesh and gave a sermon.
So, the missing link is that with his wonderful gift—and this will be costly—it will be like a father who looks in the eyes of the children instead of making rules and having ideas. As a father it is much more costly to be in the homes and encouraging brothers and sisters, “You all ought to be teachers by now.” For myself, I refuse to be the official teacher anymore. I will probably teach, but one of the ways I’m going to teach is “as we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way.”
I might need to shake you and say, “Are you willing to have the courage to share what you just told me? I know that’s from God. I know that’s the wind, the peace.” The brothers and sisters need me to do that. I’m not going to be the cork on the bottle. I’m not going to be the filter that everything has to come through.
With him, other brothers and sisters tell him things that are from God and then he shares them. He said that all the thoughts don’t come from only him. Other brothers share things with him and then he shares them with the congregation. So I said to him, “What if you let them share those things?” : ) He smiled and wrestled with it some because it feels impractical and somewhat frightening. It feels like it could end up being disorganized or chaotic.
But 24 years later, I can say for sure that it can work. And when I look in the Bible, I see that there’s no “fifties or hundreds” in the New Testament. There’s no official person in charge of this and that.
What do you see in Jerusalem in Acts 15? We call it the “Jerusalem conference,” although it wasn’t a conference at all, and it certainly wasn’t a sermon. It was a bunch of brothers together with the elders in Jerusalem. It was 10-15 years after Pentecost and that’s the very first time you ever hear of elders in Jerusalem. Apparently, they went for at least a decade in Jerusalem without any elders, which is interesting. In Acts 6, for example, when they chose seven men from among themselves, there were no elders in Jerusalem. Had there been elders, they would’ve discussed it right there in Acts 6. “Let the elders decide so we can be devoted to prayer and service with the word. The elders can decide.” But there were no elders.
At that time there were no elders?
No, there weren’t. Acts 6 was 7-10 years after Pentecost and they didn’t have any elders. By Acts 15, which is about 10-15 years after Pentecost, they did have elders. So elders do have a place, but what part do those elders play? Are they the official sermon givers? I would submit not. There’s no evidence anywhere in the New Testament that the elders were the official sermon-givers. What do shepherds do? Well, they make sure the flock is properly fed. If there’s a lack of food, they make sure food is given. Shepherds also protect the sheep from wolves, right? They make sure everyone is safe. Do they do that through organization? Not in Jesus’ Church they don’t.
In a socialistic government the leaders make rules. There’s a rule and a regulation for everything. They have a rule for how much money the chief executive officer can make. They have a rule for how everyone can spend their money and how much money everybody is required to give to this and that program. They’ll someday have a rule that you can’t educate your own children anymore because the government can do it better than the parents. It’s rule upon rule upon rule, and while the intent behind it might be good, too many people abuse privileges.
Is the right answer to have a set of rules—a nanny state where there’s a rule for everything and no one is any longer responsible for anything? Is the answer to have a rule, a hierarchy, or a system to protect ourselves from ourselves? We’re so weak and infantile and so unworthy to even raise our own children that we have to let the government do that? The last time I remember hearing that idea carried to an extreme was Adolf Hitler with the Youth Program. Parents were not allowed to raise their own children.
Can you help us understand what you mean?
When the government takes all the children away and parents are no longer fit to raise their own children, then power ends up in the wrong hands.
I understand that there will be some parents who need help. But in the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom of God, maybe Kevin who has a degree in electrical engineering can help many of our children learn mathematics better than any school teacher ever could. Ahhhh! So with the resources, the gifts and the parents in the Kingdom of God, we can do a better job helping each other organically than the government could ever do by making rules and regulations.