“Interns, College Courses, & Good Discussions”

Some of you know that we recently brought on our first “official intern” for Intentional Gatherings as an organization here in Vegas. We have had many people come in and out of our different communities in Ft. Worth AND Vegas over the past three years. They have all been “informally trained” to take what they’ve learned back to wherever they came from. We have also moved quite a few young people in and out of the different I.G. Houses in both cities. Here in Vegas we do, on paper, call those who have come into the I.G. House, “house interns”. We’ve also seen hundreds of students trained to start simple/campus churches through the various trainings we’ve hosted/been a part of. We would also hope that ANYONE who is ever a part of any of the I.G. communities would be equipped/discipled in such a way that they could ALL go anywhere in the world to start their own simple church. However, this is our first “formal” intern who has come in to learn specifically about planting simple church communities with the end goal of starting his own community when he’s done. We’re about a month in and things have been really exciting…Pray that it continues to be fruitful. Welcome Aaron Fullmer!

I have another friend who spent some time with our community here in Vegas last summer. He went back to school in Reno, but we’ve stayed connected. He’s doing some cool stuff in his neighborhood with his roommates to facilitate “Missional Community”. He’s in a college class right now, and had to write a paper/do some sort of study on The Church in America. Unfortunately, it was a discussion about “Institutional Church” & “House Church”. He asked me to comment on this issue for his paper. I’m not a huge fan of debating these two things anymore. However, I thought it was worth sharing with you guys for some more healthy discussion to continue our wonderful chat from this past weekend…

From Jon:

“I’m just looking for one or two quotes for an article for a class I’m writing. Just sum it up…

What’s your opinion on home churches compared to the institutionalized church?”

My Response:

“Dude you know I can’t make it that short-haha! This is as short as I could manage….

It depends on how you’re defining “church”. Biblically, The Church is defined by the people of God, The Bride of Christ, etc. To put the word “institutionalized” before the word “church” is a bit scary and dangerous to me. However, placing the word “house” before the word “church” is also very dangerous. When we do either we confine the people of God to a place, and put the Holy Spirit in a box.

Practically speaking I do feel that institutional churches do a poor job of “equipping the saints for the work of service”. Because they are run like a business they are dependent upon money, infrastructure, staff, programs, etc. When those are the dependent variables the God-given purposes of His people get distracted. In our current day and time most businesses AND institutions across the board are struggling. This is the VERY same with MOST churches that operate as institutions. When money is NEEDED to survive as a business (institutional church) then certain things MUST be done in order to get people: 1) into the church (building) 2) Make/Keep them happy 3) Please/entertain them 4) Get them to pledge membership-tithe & volunteer their time. When the primary focus becomes the above we very quickly throw TRUE discipleship out the window. (Please know I am not questioning the motives behind why these churches do what they do. They are obviously pursuing what they feel God has called them to in making disciples-I would hope & assume)

I have found, in my experience, that more organic expressions of the ecclessia better facilitate discipleship & “equipping the saints for the work of service”. Not only that, but because it is NOT dependent upon any of the above variables it is much more reproducible. Anyone from anywhere and in any context can follow Christ, make disciples, and facilitate Gospel centered community ON MISSION when the “criteria” for “what/how/why” we do church is made more simple & organic by nature.

God has used the institution to do wonderful things, and change lives-we’ve forced Him to have to work in that box here in America (Generally). He’s working in crazy ways OUTSIDE of the box of the institution all over the world. The Church-the people of God were never created to be institutionalized (Thank you Constantine) and sure as hell never meant to operate as a business. We prove our lack of faith when we insist that the movement of the Spirit of God, and the Gospel can/should only operate inside the realm of an institutionalized business. God is moving, and there is a HUGE shift happening among the Body of Christ. May we welcome it gladly, appreciating some of our past healthy tradition, but not cling to it in foolish  pride.”

Your thoughts?

2 thoughts on ““Interns, College Courses, & Good Discussions”

  1. Well said Aaron! Amen! I’m logged in under my work account, but this is Katie and I am speaking for myself, not the org. I work for..ha ha ha….with THAT said…this might just sound like me babbling and trying to come up with an understanding myself…so I apologize for that! lol

    I live in community/house church in Ft. Worth TX and it has absolutely changed my life. I love how freelance it is, and how there is no set agenda. We live life together, pray over each other, read the bible together and direct each other more and more toward Christ. We have no set service…or membership card. Its just real people loving each other because Christ loves us. Christ loves all of His children.

    Sometimes “institutional churches” can have the Hebrews 10:24-25 approach to starting a church and that turns me off. It says “Let us not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but lets encourage each other- and all the more as you see the day approaching.” I’m not saying this is a false scripture. I believe in 100% of the bible, but I think that WE as believers, as children of God are the church, not a building. A church doesn’t NEED a building to encourage each other…and some people think that. Where two or more gather in HIS name…HE will be there too.

    Sadly church for some has become a “weekly dose of corporate worship and a good encouraging word from a feel good message…” The bible says to take a sabbath, and that means to rest. But, that doesn’t mean focus on God on Sunday at church and then during the other 6 days rest from Him!! We should be seeking Him and worshiping Him thru our lives and how we live our lives EVERYDAY! EVERY MOMENT!

    House church has helped me do that. Its an everyday…organic way of seeking God.

    I am reading a book right now called “How to quit church without quitting God.” It’s by Martin Zender. I’m not trying to say church is bad. I’m not trying to say don’t go to church. I do go to church on Sunday morning….but not for a Jesus ‘fix.’ I love how my life has been changed so much by GOD’S GRACE and through my house church…I experience God daily…and in real life situations. When I go on Sunday mornings I am continually being pushed more toward Jesus and His commandments while being able to basque in a moment of sweet worship with other believers. You can experince worship anywhere. It’s how you live.

    [You might wanna pick it up at your local library to read the whole thing] but this is a brief what he says about “ekklesia” (church)

    page 51-54
    “The word ekklesia is a ten-cent word the greeks pulled from a paper bag at a downtown word store. Luke thought it a perfectly fine word to describe a riot. (Acts ch 19:32, 19:39 and 19:41) Well the word simply means a group of people called out. The prefix ‘ek’ means “out” and ‘lkesia’ means “called” It is that simple, common and UN-religious. Here are two cheapo, paper-bag words welded together by the greeks to describe people called out into the street, into the circus, into a beach party, into the community bath, into anything. Nothing else is specified. Why is this important? Because when people tell you to “go to church,” what they mean is that you should go to a specific building at a specific time to do specified things with specified people. BALONEY! Who gave them the right to make church that? God Himself puts no such limit on the word, and this inspired context from Acts proves it. God has a sense of humor, else He wouldn’t have gotten this riot recorded and prompted Luke to use ekklesia to describe it. It’s as if He knew it would drive the translators crazy. Besides- and you should find this interesting- the Bible contains no such phrase as “going to church.” Not once. Not one person in the Bible ever “went to church.” How could they? The word “ekklesia” engages people, not buildings. You can gather with people, but “going to people” is an awkward concept, indeed. You call out human beings, not bricks. At least, no building I ever saw actually “attended” a riot. “Churches” breathe and shout and run around the marketplace in their togas; they don’t sit on stone foundations and get steeples attached to them. And yet someone may put forth this argument “But you still need pastors and supervisors and teachers and such! Without these, you don’t have church!” If this argument ever does cross your path, just do as I do. Say: “that’s true and not true.” We do need helpful kinds of people in our lives, but who says we have to find these in context of a brick building on Sunday mornings? We can be supplied with these helpers no matter where we are.” It’s true. When I’ve needed a pastor – that is, when I’ve needed someone to offer me practical guidance – God brings one my way. It may not be an “official” pastor ordained by men (in my case I guarantee it won’t be), but it will be someone God has given a natural heart for it. I will not meet the helpful-type person in a steepled building on Sunday mornings, but maybe in a Wal-Mart on Monday afternoon. I have friends who act like pastors, supervisors, and teachers in my life. They don’t have diplomas, and I sure don’t call them “pastor” or “supervisor” or “teacher” (generally I call them Charlie, and Tony and Ted), but when I need them, I call them and they come. They’re good at what they do. They’re my friends. We talk and I am helped. They’ve gone to the School of Real Life. They’re like Peter and John in the fourth chapter of Acts. When the big-shot, temple-educated leaders in Jerusalem called these humble followers of Christ before them to explain their behavior in the wake of Jesus’s resurrection, the leaders were staggered. Acts 4:13: When they saw the complete assurance of Peter and John, who were in their view uneducated and untrained men, they were staggered, recognizing them as men who had been with Jesus. My friends know the risen Christ. I dare anyone to introduce a better qualification for service. My friends would stagger the minds of many institutionally-trained clergymen. Why? Because the concept that God could produce wisdom apart from assembly lines is foreign to the clergymen. And so, what does a steepled building on a Sunday morning have to do with any of this? Answer: nothing. Where did people pick up the one-day-a-week habit, anyway? Where did it come from? Why do so many millions of people think that they ought to go to church once a week to worship God? The once-a-week people camp around the fourth commandment God gave Isreal on Mount Sinai, though I can’t imagine why, because God says nothing in commandment four about going to church.”


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