But that’s what it takes to serve a diverse and changing marketplace. Congregations should think about touching and transforming lives, not promoting uniformity of belief or experience.
In addition to the traditional mainstay, Sunday morning worship, the healthy church will offer these options, as well:
Also known as “simple church” or “relational church,” this form of faith community is small, meets in homes or comparable private places, depends on its members for leadership, values informal worship, and often incorporates a meal.
Some advocates consider this the model Jesus intended. Some say its genius lies in what it isn’t: it isn’t big chancel, big choir, pulpit preaching, audience in pews.
In my opinion, the attraction of house churches lies in what they are: small, intentional, flexible, focused on faith and personal relationships, and effective even when as small as two or three. House churches don’t always “play well” with others. But splintering is only a problem if the central congregation is anxious about exerting control.
The benefits can be enormous. The freedom and intimacy of the house church is highly prized by constituencies that aren’t coming to Sunday church, like young adults. By embracing house churches and encouraging people to seek them out, the central congregation displays strength and confidence and provides a value that people seek.
Many congregations have gone overboard in keeping politics outside the door. In fact, we are highly political creatures. What better service could we provide than to encourage our constituents to engage in politics as part of their Christian identity: not by adopting certain church-approved stances, but by working in the political arena and exchanging views as a people united by the love and grace of God.
Without taking anything away from our efforts toward diversity, there is still a place for single-gender groups, age-specific groups, activity-specific groups. For example, young men who enjoy watching football together. A women’s volleyball team. Sewing and knitting groups. Lawyers, road warriors – groups that enjoy spending time together.
The wise church leader encourages such groups to form, remains open to their needs but otherwise lets them run free.
The point in all of these faith venues is to have trust and confidence in your people, to understand that they won’t necessarily follow your preferred course, but that if they are free and self-determining, they will serve important needs and grow your congregation in surprising ways.