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 ]

Dear Friends and Partners,                                                   December, 2009

It has been a while since I sent out a newsletter – please forgive me for being so late! We have had an eventful last few months. A trip to India and an opportunity to teach a class on missions and much more. Thank you for your prayers and financial support. We continue to walk by faith as we are led by the Lord’s provision.

INDIA TRIP

This past month I had the opportunity travel to India (New Delhi) and attend the “Global House Church Summit” as well as a three day training on making disciples and planting churches rapidly. I was so encouraged by what I witnessed.

Over 200 leaders from 40 nations gathered to discuss the significance of the worldwide house church movement. Throughout the summit there were reports of how these discipling communities were multiplying and bringing change to their regions.

It was reported that there are now over 10,000 house churches in Europe, 10,000 in Australia and 6,000 in New Zealand. In the USA there are up to 12 million who attend house churches. In Bangladesh and India it was discovered that house churches have become the largest Christian movement. In Myanmar over 6,000 house churches have been started in less than five years in just one movement. The reports continued from Africa, South America and of course the phenomenal growth of the church in China. The Kingdom of God is truly expanding and the “glory of the Lord is covering the earth as the waters cover the sea!”

Dr. V.C. one of the main conveners of the summit brought these encouraging words; “It is not about setting up house based worship communities alone . . . many house churches are beginning to change not only the spiritual climate, but begin to model the wholistic life in the Kingdom of God at the village level, demonstrating Gods ability to restore families, health and even heal the land.” He added; “For example, constant prayer walking and breaking of curses placed on the land has, in a number of areas resulted in unprecedented harvests and other agricultural breakthroughs, thus demonstrating tangibly the blessing by which God is able and willing to upgrade and empower everyday life.” Truly, what is happening has more to do with transformation of communities that a mere method of doing church or conducting meetings.

Many participants in the summit agreed with the assessment that the house church movement is growing up. She is now making becoming fully involved in the Great Commission to disciple all people groups in the world. There was also a continued emphasis on being focused on the Kingdom of God rather than the organizations of men. There was a clear challenge to finish the task (Matthew 24:14) and take the gospel to the unreached and make disciples. As a result, the summit agreed to take more initiative to reach the world by working together and seeing multiplication of discipling communities happen in all nations.

MISSIONS CLASS

Immediately after my trip to India I stopped over in St. Joseph’s, Michigan and taught a group of students at Master’s Commission where our son-in-law serves as director. We then stayed through Thanksgiving where the rest of the family joined me and we had a great time with our daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. It we a great Thanksgiving! (see picture of the family)

THANK YOU

I thank you for your prayers and financial support. Those who have supported financially have provided funds so that I could take my recent trip to India as well as trips planned in the future. You support also allows me to continue to devote my time to missional projects here where we live such as the development of an aquaponics prototype in Hampton Roads, a community center in our neighborhood and helping to mobilize simple churches to reach the nations. Although our support is much less than previous years, the Lord has been faithful and provided all that we need.

God Bless You & Merry Christmas!!

Don & Jeannie

Do we need a new definition for the people groups that are unreached? Has this term been so misused that it must be redefined? Should the shift in our understanding of church, ecclesiology and mission reflect in this definition, not to mention our actual practice when reaching the unreached?

Here is the classic definition that many as well as I have been using: “An unreached people group is 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.”

Here is my proposed new definition –

“An unreached people group (nation/ethnos) is any people group where there are no followers of Jesus who are making disciples within their own people group.”

I think it is time to change this definition. My reasons for this is that this new definition . . .: [See the remainder of this post at – House2Harvest WebLog]

I just posted our December 2008 newsletter called “The Davis Report” on the Strategic Church Network site. Click here and give it a read!

I talk about:

  • Being Friends with Refugees
  • Making Inroads to the Unreached
  • Websites Up and Running
  • Looking Ahead to 2009

God Bless!

The second part of this post can be found at the other blog I manage: House2Harvest Missions Weblog

I talk about taking this seemingly comlicated process and keeping it simple.

[This post can also be found at the House2harvest Missions Weblog]

Recently at the 2008 National House Church Conference we held three sessions of the Missions Track. In our first session we discussed some foundation issues. Here is a summary of those sessions:

Session One: Why are Simple Churches suited for pioneer missions amongst the unreached and why is this the time?

We start with the assumption that simple churches as best suited for pioneer, frontier missions (the unreached) therefore now is the time to do it!

First, let me lay some foundation:

  • House/Simple/Organic Church: It is not about the gathering but our understanding of being the Church: relational, organic, and simple.
  • Unreached/Least Reached People Groups: A people group within which there is no viable indigenous church movement with sufficient strength, resources, and commitment to sustain and ensure the continuous multiplication of churches. To reach them is pioneer/frontier missions.
    • The world’s 6.3 billion people are made up of 11,259 people groups. 55% of them are unreached! (source: IMB) Note the chart below representing numbers of people groups, not individual populations. In regards to population less than 1/3 of the world’s population is unreached.

  • 10% Committed Christians
  • 20% Nominal Christians
  • 15% Non-Christians within reach of Christians
  • Unreached peoples – Out of reach
  • o   How many unreached people groups exist? There are 11,259 people groups in the world today. 4,729 are reached. 6530 of these people groups are unreached. (Source: IMB). These unreached groups have no viable, self reproducing indigenous church able to reach their own population.

    o   Where do these unreached peoples live? 97% of all unreached peoples live in what is referred to as the 10/40 window. 82% of the poorest of the poor live in this region,

    • Where do we (the Church) use our resources? Christians give $15 Billion a year to missions. How is that $15 billion distributed? (Source: David Barrett & Todd Johnson. 2000)

    • Where do we send Missionaries? According to Mission Frontiers Magazine (June, 2000) we see that most missionaries are going to the Christian world.

    Cross-cultural Missionaries per Million in major blocks:

    • Strategic Missions: Strategic missions is when the Church is following the biblical mandate that is summarized in these two verses:

    Matthew 24:14

    “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (ethnic groups), and then the end will come.”

    James 1:27

    “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . .”

    • Closure: Closure is finishing the task. What will happen?
      • All nations will hear to the point that the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to the entire world as a testimony in all nations (ethne) and then the end will come.
      • The Bride makes herself ready. This is referring to the prophetic promise in Revelation 7:9-10 where we discover that great multitude consisting of all nations (ethne), tribes (phule), people (laos), and languages (glossa) standing before the throne in front of the Lamb.
    • What makes simple church the best tool in God’s hand to finish the task? In our recent discussion in Dallas at the National House Church Conference Missions track we came up with the following reasons during a brainstorming session:
      • Less baggage – not bound to traditional, denominational, institutional models
      • Able to move and respond faster.
      • Understands Simple Church life – since the churches planted in unreached areas are simple house churches who better to plant these churches than those who are already doing it?
      • More Appealing to Post-Modern and post-church cultures.
      • No Denominational administration – free of sterile policies and procedure, but organic.
      • Apostolic (DNA) – Workers sent with a message.
      • Makes Disciples rather than plants churches – When we make disciples, church happens.
      • Financial Ability and Flexibility
      • Realistic Accountability – relational not policy driven
      • No Overhead
      • Kingdom focused – not organization focused. Not “planting any flags” for a denomination or Missions organization. Plus the message is focused on the gospel of the Kingdom, and not a theological grid.
      • No Bottlenecks – Able to be more spontaneous and able to respond to God’s provenience.
      • Relational like other cultures
      • Reproducible – church is simple, and able to be done by anyone regardless of the amount of education. No seminary experts, big budgets, real estate deals needed.
      • Economical – less money is needed.
      • Open to Creative ideas
      • Team driven
      • No Clergy
      • Indigenous believers are empowered and released in their callings and giftings
    • We can Speed the Coming of the Lord! In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we read:

    “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. . .”

    As the Lord fulfills Matthew 24:14 with us in partnership with Him, we speed the coming of the Lord!

    This session ended with a testimony and discussion regarding doing missions locally and reaching unreached Muslim populations in the United States.

    Session Two and Three: How Simple Churches can do Missions.

    This session was mostly interactive starting with a brainstorming session talking about:

    1.       What do simple churches need to do in order to reach the unreached nations?

    2.       How do we accomplish these things?

    Here is a chart illustrating the results of this brainstorming session (each item does not necessarily correspond directly to the opposite item in the column):

    What We Need to Do: How we can Accomplish these things:
    • Cast Vision and maintain awareness.
    • Identify the people group to reach
    • Go/Send to make Disciples of all ethnic groups
    • Do research
    • Understand Cultures & cross-cultural communications
    • Mobilize our house churches
    • Pray for the unreached
    • Be led by the Spirit
    • Stay Informed
    • Do missions here cross culturally
    • Take short-term trips
    • Pray
    • Develop our simple churches into missional communities.
    • Hear God – Only do what we see the Father doing.
    • Network together with other simple churches
    • Get training – take “Perspectives” and the like.
    • Gather resources
    • Read missions books
    • Develop funding plans, collect $ and send to the need.
    • Develop Business as Mission opportunities
    • Train missionaries, or facilitate their training
    • Learn the Language
    • Develop Partnerships
    • Model simple church being missional
    • Prepare for Church Planting Movements at home.
    • Do research on the field via short term trips.
    • Learn and adopt successful strategies
    • Live simple lifestyles
    • Talk and get to know simple church missionaries

    We then heard several testimonies first from a missionary couple planning to go to Asia and their challenges in regards to securing a support network in a simple church network setting. We also heard more about a network of simple churches regarding how they were reaching the Muslim community in their city.

    The discussion carried over to the next day as we discussed the following process and how simple churches can develop into a missions movement reaching the unreached.

    Steps Towards A Mature Missions Movement in the Apostolic Simple/House Church Network

    Mobilization Stage

    Phase I. Training

    Phase I. Training
    1.       Provide training and learning experiences. Contact House2Harvest Network for more information.
    2. Begin to develop Strategic Components of an Acts 1:8 Church in your simple church and/or network. a. Prayer
    b. The Lord raises up a champion for the cause of reaching the unreached and fulfilling the desire to be an Acts 1:8 church.
    c.  Clear written strategic guidelines
    d.  Adopt a Least/Unreached People Group
    e.  Giving Plan, Funding Plan
    f.  Short-Term Trips
    g.  Events focused on serving the nations.
    h. Begin Servants to the Nations Preparation
    3. Develop Local Cross-Cultural Ministry/Outreach.
    4. House Church network sponsors further training, coaching and consulting in understanding missions. This can be provided by ministries such as House2Harvest Network.
    5. Key Leaders attend World Christian Perspectives Course offered through the U.S. Center for World Missions
    6. Constant reading of missions books and articles.
    7. Finish the development of the Strategic Components of an Acts 1:8 Church (see #2)
    8. Identify Servants to the nations in your House Church Network.

    Phase II: Planning

    Develop a plan to reach the UPG
    1. Identify other churches and networks that are targeting your adopted UPG.
    2. Develop a preliminary budget – measure your potential financial resources.
    3. Partner with other churches and organizations in the USA a. Conduct or attend a UPG consultation
    b. Coordinate prayer efforts and information
    c. Assess organizational capacity of partnering churches
    d. Determine level in which churches can partner
    e. Formalize partnerships and networks
    4. Identify National Churches that are potential partners
    5. Partner with key leaders in national churches
    6. Conduct a short-term research trip in a region where the UPG lives.
    7. Write out your plan to reach the UPG based on your research etc.

    Deployment Stage

    Phase III:Team & Partnership
    Phase III: Team, Partnership and Networking
    1. Develop a support mechanism for cross-cultural servants to the nations.
    2. Identify servants to the nations and missions organizations already targeting the UPG.
    3. Train Your Servants to the nations.
    4. Develop potential Apostolic teams (if this is part of your plan.)
    5. Identify strategic locations and partners working among the UPG.
    6. Get to know the Apostolic/CP teams you are going to support, partner and network with.
    7. Revise your missions policy statement if needed.
    8. Begin to develop your cross-cultural disciple making strategy.
    9. Evaluate the readiness of the apostolic team and/or servant to the nations you are sending
    10. Conduct a Pre-Field Orientation and then place the teams among the UPG

    Engagement Stage

    Phase IV: Making Disciples

    Phase IV: Making Disciples
    1. Apostolic Team finishes pre-field Orientation.
    2. Apostolic Team does (and/or finishes) Language and Culture Study
    3. Disciple Making Movement Strategy Formation a. Training
    b. Development of a plan
    4. Strategy Implementation begun a. Resources Mobilized
    b. Team is implementing strategy
    5. Initial converts discipled
    6. Disciple Making Movement oriented church(es) planted a. First church planted
    b. Second generation of churches launched.
    7. Churches reproducing spontaneously (3rd and 4th generations)
    8. Saturation church planting underway
    9. Celebration! UPG Reached – Other UPG’s Targeted by churches planted.

    Missions Movement is Underway!

    (You can download this chart here:steps-towards-a-mature-missions-movement-in-the-apostolic-house-church-network1

    If you would like to talk more about your simple/house church doing missions let me know, and I would be glad to help!