Fifteen Steps to Move to a House Church Movement – part 25

If you are to take this 25 part series on Christian Leadership for Missions seriously, you will have to deal with any attachment to your church building (1 Timothy 6:17-19). You will also have to focus on one main activity which is making disciples. You are smart people, get organized, and make a plan to radically transform your leadership structure under one head.

The church, the body of Christ, is made up of human beings. The church is not a building. Christ is the head of the church. Take a moment to reflect on all the chapters of this book. The head is Christ and we are unworthy servant salves being led by him alone. It will be very difficult for Christ to be the true head when Christians continue to follow a worldly leadership structure and use the church building. The worldly leadership structure will be much easier to transform with the building out of the way. The existence of the building increases the need for a worldly leadership structure and the other way around. Here is a summary of the reasons why the body of Christ should sell its church buildings, or not build them in the first place.

Seven Important Concepts to Consider

  1. Most important, a building hinders the outward extension of the body of Christ.
  2. The existence of a church building requires the need for a worldly authority structure.
  3. It will be extremely difficult to transform under Christ as the head while still in a church building.
  4. The church building requires a name and therefore some affiliation to a belief system, doctrine or traditional preferences which only cause division.
  5. The existence of a building requires believers to pay salaries to staff of the building and to raise support for its activities.
  6. In most countries, a church building has required federal regulations that you must adhere to which will further complicate the limitations mentioned here.
  7. In many countries a church building is either illegal to build, or it is under extreme pressure to restrict the reach of its ministry.

These are the main reasons why the worldwide body of Christ should not be involved in the construction of church buildings. There are many other reasons that, for the sake of maintaining focus, can’t be covered in this book. You too probably can add some to the list. Let’s move on to some practical guidelines that will help you make the transition, or transform your local body under the one true head of the church.

How to transform your leadership under one head Jesus Christ:

If you want Christ to be the head of his body, you must let go of it all. Here is a suggested list. Add to this list from other insights you have gained from this book or from scripture.

1. Remove all leadership positions. This includes the number ones and all subordinate leaders. This also includes staff, committees, and boards. It is obvious that all titles should be removed as a result. Remove all titles. There will be no more hierarchical titles in front of the word pastor, such as assistant pastors, executive pastors, senior pastors, and associate pastors. Put everyone in the local body on the same level of authority. All the top leadership that was in the church building setting, denomination, or mega movements are now to be just regular believers of house congregations filling a role if they have the grace and gifting for it. No one is special, all are on the same level. There is no longer a number one leader. If the senior pastor was once a famous public figure, he now needs to disappear into one of the house discipleship groups, read his Gospels, and make his disciple like all the rest of the body. All are equal and are no more important than any of the other brothers and sisters. No one is to be leading the house groups. The host is just a host. If they have a teaching gift, fine but they are not to be called teacher nor are they to be placed higher in status above others. They are not to be given any special titles or privileges. Do not allow men (or women) to position themselves as leaders. Deal with all seizing of authority as sin, because it is.

2. Sell all physical assets. Sell the church building or buildings. This includes all furnishings, vehicles, etc. Have the believers sell their Christian books and paraphernalia keeping only one Bible. Donate the proceeds to pay off any debt. This includes the church building or ministry debt. When you are done with this book sell it too. You don’t need it anymore.

3. Eliminate all paid salaries. This includes pastoral staff, music staff, office staff, and maintenance staff. All salaries and offerings to anyone should be removed. All those people who now have no titles and no salaries or offerings are to move into roles within the house discipleship groups like everyone else. You can reduce these while the building or buildings are waiting to be sold. This includes paid salaries or offerings to field missionaries. The title field missionary should be removed. If the house discipleship groups want to continue to support them that would be good.

4. Distribute all finances. Develop a plan to divide up all present or future finances between all the house discipleship groups and those in the local body who have needs. Stop all financial moves and decisions dealing with building projects and church finances. Put the finances into the body as the need arises. Pay off all the believer’s personal debt. The body cannot be in debt any. No needy person should be among you. Things are going to grow, so if finances are still in abundance, use them to send members willing to go into remote unreached people groups in closed countries. They need two years of training and unfortunately, Christians charge for missionary training. These brothers will not need support on the field but can be helped as ones extending the gospel where it has not been taken.

5. Move the body into houses. Move all brothers and sisters of the local body or bodies into house discipleship groups. Do this even if the building or buildings have not been sold. This will not take much planning. Some houses hold more than others. People go to the homes they live closest to. Again, no one in these homes will have titles or leadership positions, only roles. Disciple by extending further away from these discipleship groups as they fill up. A discipleship group can be two or more people.

6. Nothing is for sale. Do not complicate the ministry, make a system of or sell the house discipleship plan. No manuals, recordings, videos, websites, programs, or materials are to be used or sold. No tee-shirts with logos. Keep it simple and reproducible. No products are to be for sale. Lamentably, you will need to purchase a Bible. But do not sell them. You will contaminate it by trying to market it. Teach the simple teachings of Christ using the Bible and nothing more.

7. Holy Spirit assigns roles. Ask the body to seek God about their roles. If someone has a pastoral gift, it gets used but the pastor does not become the leader of anyone. He becomes the servant slave of all, He simply pastors the flock. A pastor consoles heals and guides others to Christ. He is not a business person managing the direction of finances within the church bank account. There are no more church bank accounts. The pastor watches over the disciples. He is not to be elevated. Anyone starting to take control or gather people around oneself are to be relieved from using their roles. Some good advice would be that no one speaks about their roles, they just operate in them and do the work. The word pastor has been contaminated so much that it might be hard to use.

8. Immerse in the Gospels. Each believer has one Bible and begins to read a minimum of two hours per day mainly the Gospels. For every five times you read a Gospel you can read another New Testament book. For every ten times you read a Gospel you can read an Old Testament book. This goes on for the first four years of a new disciple’s life and all brothers and sisters in your local body. A version of the Bible using a modern understandable language is recommended.

9. Make Disciples. Each believer should do their best to make at least one disciple every year, regardless of their years in the faith. This includes new believers and those who have twenty years or more in the faith. Young people are included, even some children and adolescents can make disciples.

10. Don’t count or track growth. Do not try to track the growth. Do not count it. It will be messy and un-trackable anyway and exponential growth eventually cannot be tracked. It will only burden you down with things that don’t matter. Tracking or monitoring progress will also kill the Spirit.

11. Don’t’ name it. No names, logos, websites, or any other big stuff. Doing any of this will kill the Spirit of Christ in your house discipleship movement. Jesus is the real leader here. And he is the star, the morning star! You are not. Keep low key, anonymous, and exalt and glorify the name of Jesus. No other name or charismatic personalities are to be exalted. If you had a name before, make it disappear.

12. Deal with sin. Deal with all sin quickly and thoroughly. Confront, rebuke, expel and restore when and if they repent.

13. No mass meetings. Don’t try to network or congregate as a mass group once the movement grows. You will stop the outward extension of the kingdom by doing so. This will create the temptation to revert back to the same old problems discussed throughout the chapters of this book. You will also kill the humility of Christ because the people will be under subtle temptation to be boasting about the mass mega movement that they are a part of. Don’t do it.

14. Be generous. Everyone be generous and fill any need. Give the money to those in the body with any need. Pay off all debts of the brothers and sisters and give what’s leftover to widows and orphans and to train and launch out new brothers and sisters where Christ has never been named. Sell a house once in a while, and give away the money, you will feel liberated (Luke 6:38).

15. Extend outwardly. Once your house group grows too big for the house, start another group. Once a house fills up, they must extend outwardly to another house further away. Preach, teach, exhort and disciple mostly using the Gospels, where Jesus is doing the talking. Know and share Jesus Christ the Messiah and King of kings.

Below is a brief summary of these points:

Eliminate all leadership positions. No one has titles or leadership positions, only roles. Start to sell all physical assets inside the church building and give the proceeds to those in the body as needs arise. Put the church building up for sale. Reduce all paid salaries of leaders and staff. All members of the local body or bodies are to move into house discipleship groups. Once the building or buildings sell, stop all paid salaries. No products or information are to be sold. Ask the members to seek God about their roles. If someone has a pastoral gift, it gets used but the pastor does not become the leader of anyone. He becomes the servant slave of all and simply pastors the flock. Each believer has one Bible and begins to read a minimum of two hours per day mainly the Gospels. For every five times you read a Gospel you can read another New Testament book. For every ten times you read a Gospel you can read an Old Testament book. This goes on for the first four years of a new disciple’s life and should be practiced even by the present group of brothers and sisters. Each believer should do their best to make at least one disciple per year, regardless of their years in the faith or physical age. Do not try to track the growth. Do not name it. No logos or websites. Once you have moved fully into the outward exponential extension of the kingdom of God, continue to emphasize the personal, slow, time-consuming discipleship.

If you are excited after reading Christian Leadership for Missions, that’s a good thing. If you are angry or offended, read on. If you are able to actually restructure your church into a house discipleship movement, you will have broken through a tremendous spiritual battle and liberated all the brothers and sisters into their true purpose as believers and followers of Christ. This will not be easy to accomplish, but in a matter of a few months or a year, it will all be over and you will have Christians living out their lives in the community, constantly sharing the Gospel and discipling other people. Those who don’t go along with the transformation will move into other church buildings where they are comfortable. Imagine the day when the discipleship movement in your city becomes so unified and like minded that they referred to as the Church in “your cities name here”. This will be a huge blessing to them and to those in the community who have never heard the Gospel in a relevant way.

Final Words

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

(NRSV, 2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

If you want to see the leadership transformation, you will need at least a year

If you want to find your true place in his body under the one true head, it won’t happen overnight. It will come by faith and your faith may need to increase. If you start to do all that has been mentioned here, it could take time before you start to see fruit. Be patient. I have heard that it takes between 21 days and 254 days to develop good habits in one’s life. What you are after here is more than a good habit. It is a personal spiritual transformation and spiritual warfare will need to be waged. Three hundred and sixty-five days is what it will take to see fruit from a decision of this magnitude. If you want to see real change in your life, you will need to give yourself at least a year. You will need to go through the transformation yourself before you lead the local body in this. I will say it again, a spiritual stronghold will need to be broken and you cannot break it in others until it is broken in yourself first. If you still doubt the message of this book, prove me wrong and take the challenge. The transformation needs to begin with you. Below are the things I recommend that you do for one whole year.

Do these things for a year and then begin to transform your local body into a house discipleship movement.

1. Read the Gospels. Read the Gospels a minimum of two hours a day. Consider the teachings of Christ as commands or instructions that you need to follow.

2. Start serving. Start serving in all the areas that others are not. Look for the things that need to be done and for things that no one else is doing, regardless of how difficult, low or dirty that work is.

3. Submit and obey. Submit and obey everyone. Just do what others tell you for a year. Don’t worry about what others will think of you. Just obey.

4. Follow instructions. Follow instructions explicitly as they are given. Don’t do the job how you want to do it, do it how they told you to do it. If they did not tell you how to do the job, ask how they want it done.

5. Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Seek God for the baptism in the Holy Spirit’s and all the spiritual gifts every day for 365 days (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 10:44-48; 11:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13) even if you don’t believe in it. Do not go to other books or people, just to God and the Bible. Pray to God asking him to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and to give you the power to heal and perform miracles. These are not for you but for the outward extension of his kingdom.

6. Pray for local body. Start to pray for the transformation of your local body on day one. Pray against the deceit and schemes of the enemy against your local body.

7. Make a disciple. Pray for and look for your disciple for 365 days. Look for the opportunity to make at least one disciple per year.

8. Stay focused. Be humble and don’t focus on your ministry gift. Do not be concerned about what your spiritual gift is or ministry you have, just serve and you will see where you have fruit.

9. Follow the fruit. What you are fruitful in today, do more of tomorrow. Try new things to see if you also have grace from the Lord. You may get that talent from someone who is not using it.

10. Understand the Great Commission. Learn about remote unreached people groups. Get some information about those who have no access whatsoever to the Gospel of Christ. This is where the center of God’s heart is and where he wants to extend his kingdom.

The things listed here are reasonable things that anyone would tell you to do to help you grow in Christ. So now is time to start. Take your first step into your true place as a humble and fruitful member of the body of Jesus Christ. It will require work and a battle against your own carnal desires and the enemy, but Christ is victorious! You are now in Christ and he will lead you. His authority is above all others. Jesus is the only true leader here, so let him do his job and lead.

About the author of this series:

The author came to Christ in 1984 and immersed himself in the New Testament. In 1986 he left his home to become a missionary where he spent a year and a half discipling a small group of believers. He started a house discipleship group and then left the mission field to obtain his bachelor’s degree in theology and cross-cultural missions. He worked in the printing industry for five years and then returned to the mission field where he has been ever since. Once again on the mission field, he started another small discipleship group and then started traveling to unreached people groups gathering information to help the body of Christ send new missionaries. This led him to dedicate several years to developing better methods of research that guide missionary movements toward the most remote unreached people groups in the world. At the time of the writing of this content, he was fifty-three years old. He and his wife live in Oaxaca, Mexico, home to over 170 different ethnolinguistic people groups, some of them still unreached with the Gospel. For more detail about remote unreached peoples, look for his book; “Missions to Remote Unreached People Groups; Radical Missionaries Needed Now”. It demonstrates that Jesus’s teachings and the methods in which he discipled was completely sufficient for accomplishing the great commission.

God bless you!