Having followed predominately house church movements that are more dialed into Scripture meditation, humble and loving fellowship among believers, tender reaching of the unchurched and/entirely lost and unassiciated with Christ, I am overwhelmed with relief in having these few days with the We Are Church family of house churches. The Crowded House in the UK as well as Soma are the only other networks of churches that have really attracted me in the last three years.
We met with the three elders of the network and were really helped with wisdom. I was able to ask a few questions of the lead elder/pastor and was so helped by his candid answers.
His name is Francis Chan. I felt that someone like me would struggle in planting and multiplying a network of house churches like this. He has shared in some of his sermons before how this is done in China and India and we are thought to be the silly ones in his mind at this point. After having stepped down from the senior pastor role in a church he started that grew to 5,000, he is convinced this is something he wants to do until he dies or Christ returns to bring us Home.
The other two elders, both named Kevin, were so refreshingly encouraging to me! Probably more helpful for me personally because of where Carrie and I minister is the second Kevin I met who runs their recovery house for men called Project Bayview – the men of the house work the restaurant on the ground floor called Huli Huli. The way they do church planting is so unimpressive humanly speaking that it’s rediculously impressive with spiritual eyes. This Kevin and his wife live in the projects and serve in the men’s and women’s recovery homes owned by a sister non-profit to We Are Church. Crazy Love Ministries is the third sister so-to-speak.
Being here for just a couple of days has demistified what these leaders and house church communities have been up to now for four years.
They are up to 14 churches and 28 house church pastors and are very likely to successfully grow to double that by 2018.
Their “how to” is very helpful to see up-close. But once seen, you feel more of a burden for the lost and hurting of your own region of the world than an idolization for We Are Church.
Francis helped me see how someone like me could have an easier time of just focusing on growing the Kingdom locally because I wouldn’t have the publicity that his involvement brings We Are Church. For little guys like me I can just minister and replicate whatever was helpful but make character development, generosity, community-building, loving outreach, etc the focus. Getting glory or money from this gig just doesn’t happen.
The other two elders, and they plan to add elders from the ever growing crop of pastors to oversee the pastors as the network grows, these guys continue to pastor in house churches and labor at their day jobs. No one rises to “arch bishop” or what not. Chan does function as the lead pastor so-to-speak. It’s such a humble and loving manner of doing ministry and leaders don’t have as far to fall, so it’s helpful to see how approachable planting a similar network can be.
Chan said that one self-placed constraint holds promise of keeping this movement submitted to God’s Word over man’s traditions. No paid pastors.
We are God’s church, friends. As we submit to Jesus as our head, elders of churches dive lower and deeper and pastors are all in for spreading the Gospel in our land, that all might know our awesome Master, our Jesus! Their Huli Huli church got to “mega church” size in their world toward the end of last year, around 40 people in that family! But then they planted out at the start of the year to become two different churches within the We Are Church family of churches.
These are the core tenants that summarize We Are Church. So much of how they are doing church comes straight out of the house church model in China, so I don’t intend to change much. Friends, consider going to either the pastors’ Church Intensive or the general session Church Intensive for non-pastors. Such a deeply refreshing few days. This is a deeply encouraging vision forming trip for me as to how church can be done in a way so it can ever be expanding instead of competing.
See the last post here on my blog or check out their website.
Jesus, have Your full way in us, Lord!