Sunday, February 21, 2010
Lexington Revisited and Houses that Change the World
I’m writing this well before dawn on a sleepless morning here in Kentucky. To redeem that time the Spirit prompted me first to pray… for the wonderful couples I had great fellowship with just hours ago, but then to read. It’s interesting how the Lord has impacted me significantly by these reading times during these short but sweet trips back to Kentucky. If you’ve been following this blog for some time you know that significant changes took place in my life after picking up another book the Lord used to powerfully speak to me late last summer. This morning I find myself sliced and diced by the apostolic and prophetic vision advanced by Wolfgang Simson in his high impact book, “Houses that Change the World”
First: those wonderful couples. Months ago I reconnected with one couple outside Lexington at the Spirit’s prompting. It had been nearly 20 years since we visited face to face. I was not surprised to find 2 hearts craving for authenticity, yet isolated and feeling trapped in a web of lifeless religion. On this weekend I was encouraged to see even more signs of life and awakening. They’re not sure how to get where the Lord wants them, but their readiness to walk in that is building, along with their hope… hope that Jesus is still building His church, and they are vital “living stones” He will use to do so. Even as I write this I’m praying that in their home, as they renovate the structure of their house to more comfortably welcome visitors and practice hospitality, that the Lord will prepare their hearts for a home that will change their town and region. I’m believing even now that the life of Christ will overflow from their home and touch many lives for the kingdom: awakening “sleeping saints” to a lively and vibrant fellowship with the Father and ending their isolation and boredom with “religious systems”, and as living stones come together, the world will see the hope that is in Christ and new births will come about as their community finally sees an expression of Jesus, the Living Lord in His people, sharply contrasted from the surrounding landscape of religiosity that repulses them, or in the very least now compels them to ignore “the church”.
The second couple is in a similar yet different place. They’re immersed in “church”, but there’s a growing, nagging sense that something is terribly missing. I’m thankful that my friend, once not too excited to engage me on these things, welcomed me into his home this time around, and blessed me with the joy of hearing his heart come alive with hope. Last night he and his wife shared how they recently said to the Lord that they’re so sick of the status quo, they’re ready for “whatever” He wants to do. Let me encourage you two that He will be faithful to meet you in this. In fact I pray now that this will be a season of deeper fellowship with the Father and a progressive release from “dead works”. And as your freedom in Him increases, the Lord will connect you with like-minded people who are ready to walk in this journey with you. Bring them into their paths Lord… at work… in their neighborhood… even at their church, connect their hearts with others who want to see You glorified and every “foreign” contaminant removed that interrupts that pure connection with You and hinders a joint by joint connection with the Body. We pray, believing You are doing this even now. You are building your church and the gates of hell will not prevail! Amen!
Now: Wolfgang Simson.
I had the privilege of meeting him at the organic church conference in September. And now I’ve finally gotten to dig into his groundbreaking book “Houses that Change the World”.
Better than many others, Wolfgang makes the case for return to house churches. And what has shaken me up is the chapter, “Developing a Persecution-Proof Structure.” Those who know me may be shocked that the implications of walking out life in this paradigm that is “new to us” did not register with me as something that may “invite” persecution. But that reality has set in as I read this morning. Here’s just a small sample of that chapter:
Since every person has been born a sinner (Psalm 51; Romans 3:23), everyone has a wounded consciousness, knowing they are guilty before God. The easy answer to calm this trouble is religion, which is like a built-in feature of every person on earth. The world steams with religion, even if it comes in the form of agnosticism and liberalism, to which teaching its adherents cling with passionate religious fervor. We do not have to do anything to become religious; it is creational, natural, and it creeps in without our being aware, like an ugly spirit raising its head while everyone sleeps. Religion builds up like static energy when we walk with plastic shoes on a carpet. It needs the power of the Holy Spirit, constant prophetic and apostolic ministry, and the ongoing equipping of the saints, to maintain a non-religious, alert and sober spirit, to be free from religion and liberated by Christ to worship Him in truth and spirit. If I were the devil and wanted to stop Christians from being effective witnesses to Jesus, I would certainly let loose on the followers of Jesus the most deadly plague there is on the planet: religion. I would look for the weakest members of the church – who sometimes look to be the strongest! –whisper into their minds the age-old tried and tested words “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1), instill in them the hunger for more security, power, glory and fame – and then feed them the ready-made poison of religion. What a triumph for the devil if he can arrange the ultimate demonic scheme: to persecute the church in the name of the church, to persecute the people of God in the name of God and get the functionaries of organized religion to hold the head of the organic body of Christ under the water as long as possible.”
In establishing house-church movements, therefore we need to soberly beware of religious cults emerging around special names, allegedly effective rituals, traditions, moral laws, spiritual practices and methods, pseudo-holy worship patterns and religious experiences that are supposed to be the norm. We need to literally “earth” any religious energy which build up regularly, like static electricity, by coming to the cross of Christ and asking Him to set us free individually and corporately from the religious spirit, and to fill us with His Spirit again and again, until the earth is filled with the fragrance of God, “believers are a letter read by all men” and “the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church” (Ephesians 3:10), through simple and supernatural house churches in which the people of God share their lives with God and each other. Those houses will literally change the earth.
We also need to understand that, in the days when Stephen spoke against the temple, not only were Saul and his men stirred up to bloodthirsty fanaticism, but literally all hell broke loose. The core of the religious and demonic system to keep people in blindness and ignorance – and therefore lost for eternity – was under attack.
And I can relate to another paragraph that Simson shares about the path “from the old to the new”.
In almost every meeting, seminar or conference on the subject of a relational, organic, house-based church movement the same question inevitably rises: “I understand what you’re saying, and I’m totally with you. But I have this church at home. It runs on the traditional pattern. How do I change the system without destroying the church?! I call this the “How to cross the river without getting my feet wet” question. Can we really have progress without change? I do not think so. But the painful part is all change is personal. It upsets routines and traditions. But if we want to see new things happening in and through the church, we need to be prepared to make personal changes first, changes in the family second, and changes in our ministry third.
Which is a lead-in to something I sense the Lord prompting me to say now: I believe this last paragraph speaks directly to some of you reading this blog. You are fascinated, even excited about what you read here, but you haven’t moved any closer than the water’s edge into the life you know you want with Him and other believers. Let me appeal to you now: ask the Lord for grace to begin taking steps of faith, maybe even small ones, but then take them! After all, this is a walk of faith. There are no spectators in the kingdom of God.
So order your own copy of "Houses that Change the World". You can buy it online by following this link:
Order it. Read it. And then, join the revolution!