Saturday, July 02, 2011

house churches are about a new vision not a new form of church

I’ve spent a wet, winter’s day reading. It is one of the ways I am renewed – reading – and especially reading theology. (Wierd I know, but there’s something about reading slowly and deeply and thoughtfully that I found renewing.)

Here’s some gems from the conclusion to Luke: The Elite Evangelist by Karl Allen Kuhn (A book I wanted to read, given how much time I spent talking to groups about both Luke 1:39-45 and Luke 10:1-12). In a section titled “Turning the world upside down” Karl Kuhn notes 15 ways in which the theme of social and economic reversal is manifested in Luke-Acts. This includes house churches and ministry.

To us, the household churches and their economy may seem rather quaint, even naive, but they constitute a striking rejection of the Roman and Judean economies, in which redistribution of resources was based on social location and power, not need. The practices of the early believers also set aside the engrained cultural notion of limited good. (89)

Given that there is a lot of talk in emerging church/fresh expressions about the potential place of house churches, its fascinating to see them framed not as a new form of church but as a different way of being in relationship in the world. In other words, this is not about moving the deck chairs, but about living in ways that challenge the economic and social values of our culture.

Here’s a second quote, in which the new vision is limited not to where and how ministry happens, but also to who does the ministry.

Luke repeatedly makes it clear that the authority to proclaim the mysteries of God resides not in a select few, but in an ever-expanding group of ministers and eyewitnesses … Luke alone among the evangelists pairs and follows the sending out of the Twelve (Luke 9) with the sending out of seventy (Luke 10), the latter receiving the same commission and authority as the Twelve … Similarly, in Acts the ministry of the Twelve is soon overshadowed by those outside the original apostolic circle. (90, 1)

Which is a point I repeatedly make when talking about new forms of church/fresh expressions. And was certainly our experience at Opawa, the potential of gathering lay teams of 3-5 folk to pursue mission and ministry through the creation of fresh expressions.

Posted by steve at 07:53 PM

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