I’ve always been intrigued by the “house to house” element in the church immediately after Pentecost. My question, “How could the ‘apostles teaching’ have been paramount when there were only a dozen apostles available to 300+ home meetings?”
In churches I pastored we approached this with strong Bible-centric teaching on the weekend followed by highly interactive and collaborative conversations meeting in small groups throughout the week. Our assumption was that the apostles taught in the temple-gatherings, while “lay-persons” led the home groups reflecting on whatever the apostles brought to light (Acts 2:41-47). In essence, the members contributed new content as they shared insight into the teaching provided by the apostles.
Doing the Temple Thing
For centuries, churches have managed to do the “temple thing” pretty well while ignoring the house-to-house aspect of following Jesus Christ.
I can remember dark days in the 1960s when evangelical pastors taught that home Bible studies were a form of rebellion against the church. One guy blew a fuse when a young girl baptized a friend she had brought to the Lord. Another pastor had a fit when a teenager took crackers and juice from the communion table to her mother seated in a wheelchair, “She is not ordained and had no right to touch the holy elements.” So much for equipping the saints for ministry…
Those days have thankfully passed, but we could still miss amazing opportunities coming our direction. Across the world, consumers have become content providers, something that I believe worked well in the early church and could help us penetrate our polarized culture.
Consumers Routinely Provide the Content they Enjoy
We’ve morphed into an era where consumers routinely provide the content which they enjoy. While Hollywood produces 600 movies per year, YouTube contributors post 65,000 videos per day (nearly 24 million each year). Hollywood is a drop in the bucket, including viewership as YouTube uploads are watched 1.2 billion times in a month. Toss in Instagram, Facebook, Ebay, Kickstarter and Wikipedia and you might notice a developing trend—people expect to interact and contribute. They are not content to sit as idle spectators.
So, what’s this got to do with your church? For starters we could redeem our small groups, home meetings or whatever you call them from complacency and a spectator orientation.
Gone are the days when young people will gather in a home to watch a 20 minute cut of an old sermon. I was recently appalled at a “fellowship group” where we, individually, answered 14 questions the pastor’s wife generated about her husband’s Sunday’s sermon. Your people provide content to the internet via their phones for several hours each day. The opportunity/expectation to express themselves is hard-wired into their thinking. It presents a massive opportunity for your ministry. So how do we get to where members become content providers?
Interactivity: Members and Maturity
To generate interactivity and content contribution while remaining faithful to scripture we’ve built small groups around three simple questions: 1. What did the Holy Spirit say to you while the pastor was talking on the weekend? 2. What will you do about what you just said? 3. How can we help, and pray for you as you do this?
Those questions keep people focused on the Word of God as it was taught. They call forth accountability to the Word. And, they invite the people to minister to one another, helping to bring the church to maturity (Ephesians 4).
There will probably always be spectator churches, but those which will win the hearts of a generation will be those who manage to turn communication into a two-way street.
Speaking of interactivity, your thoughts in the comments box below will help keep this site interesting. Please sound off (you don’t need to agree to be appreciated).