Can a simple, organic, house church do missions? (When the term “house church” is used, I am speaking of a variety of expressions of the Body of Christ that gather together. Other terms such as simple church, organic church, small church, single cell church or home church could just as well be used here.) Can our Lord raise up apostolic teams and send them to the nations out of our house churches and networks? The answer is yes! But, there needs to be some changes in the way we think and approach missions or we will fall into the same traps that plague the institutional missions effort.

Over a year ago a couple in our house church (we’ll call them Al and Sarah) expressed their call to go to another country to reach an unreached people group and the need to begin to raise support for the work the Lord was calling them to do. All of us in the church confirmed their call and were excited about this possibility. A few weeks later during a time together Al and Sarah shared their concern that they may not be able to get the support they need in a house church context and were considering returning to the large institutional church that they used to attend in order to have a greater opportunity to raise support and acquire the needed care and advice.

We were now confronted with a situation where a member of our spiritual family wanted to fulfill their call but up to this point there was no real model to follow or “path” to assist them in knowing what they should do. We knew the option of returning to the institutional church was not a good one, but we also knew that we would need to make some clear efforts to be their support base. We are their family, and we did not want to ship them off to a group of strangers to provide the guidance and expertise needed to get to where they needed to go.

This is the reason for this series of ten articles. Hopefully it will spawn some discussion, but most of all spur us all to take the gospel of the Kingdom into the regions of our world where there is no witness, no preaching and no church. Basically to those who are out of reach. “How will they hear unless someone is sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)

One of the greatest needs a church has is to grasp the scope and sequence of what is needed to bring her to a place where she is actually reaching the world around her. This would include local, regional and even to the point of reaching an unreached people group (definition: A people group or ethnic group, within which there is no viable indigenous church or churches with sufficient strength, resources, and commitment to sustain and ensure the continuous multiplication of churches. In other words – they are “out of reach” of the church to bring the gospel to them! For more info go to www.house2harvest.org/research_upg.html)

This is based on the model that Jesus gave the church in Acts 1:8 when he said; “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Typically, the church understands its call to reach its “Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria” but has trouble accomplishing the mandate to go to the “ends of the earth.”

This understanding of the call to be missional can be extremely frustrating for the already established house church. Alan Hirsch states in his excellent book; “The Forgotten Ways” that we must first know Christ, and from that relationship we develop mission, and it is not until then that the church forms. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006, pgs. 143-144.) This is the ideal. But what do we do if we are already functioning as a community of faith and discover our apostolic role to the world around us, even to the extent of reaching out to the ends of the earth?

It is at the ends of the earth that we find the unreached people groups who still do not have access to the gospel. They are out of reach! Up to this point in missions’ history, we have left this task to the institutional church and missions organizations. Certainly these organizations have developed great skills and tools that are invaluable to the missionary. But they bring with them a degree of baggage that continually disrupts the spontaneous expansion of the church.

What does a house church or house church network do? Is apostolic (pioneer, frontier) missions an option for the house church? I believe it must be. It is part of her DNA. How do we implement a clear missions vision in the midst of our churches and then follow through with the missions vision of sending teams to some of the most unreached peoples of the world?

In this 10 part series I will be sharing the simple process of:
• Study God’s Word
• Pray for the Nations
• Find a “Champion”
• Pray for harvest, and opportunity for all to participate in that harvest
• Seek the Lord for His Plan
• Follow the Plan

In my next blog I will be sharing about the simple process that begins with studying the word of God and prayer. Link to Part Two

[Don is available to come to your area and share with your group or network to assist your church to reach the unreached. dondavis@house2harvest.org ]

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