December 2007


Since beginning this blog I have written many times on the church in America. Some of my posts have cited things that are “wrong” with the church while others have touched on the more positive aspects. I’ve been doing some thinking in recent days and I’ve wondered, if you (the reader) were able to design your ideal church what would it look like? Maybe you don’t even go to church but if you could find one like your ideal then you might. Maybe you attend your ideal already, and if so tell me about it. Maybe you live outside America and have a good story to relate. If so, I’d love to hear it.

I’m not looking for some sort of long-form report or research project, just a few sentences or even bullet points will do. I doubt you’ve been asked this question before, but what is your ideal?

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Several weeks ago I wrote about how church has become so complicated and how the machinery frequently gets in the way of just being the church. This past week I got a series of emails from a friend of mine who is visiting the Horn of Africa. This area of the continent includes Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Kenya. He was there observing and training a growing group of church leaders whose greatest complication in life is not being killed because of their faith in Christ (how’s that for a complication?). The threat of death adds a unique level of complication, yet the “church” is growing exponentially, in uncomplicated ways!

Two years ago, in just one region of the horn of Africa there were 32 churches within this movement my friend observed. Today there are more than 700. Across the entire horn of Africa 4 new churches were planted every day during 2006. God is at work in astounding ways and is transforming people from all backgrounds, from witch doctors to children, and from mothers to grandmothers. It seems no one is exempt from this movement of God.

I know there is a strong and growing house church movement in America, but nothing on this level. Reading this story has caused me to wonder what would happen if the house church movement experienced this kind of impact in America? Could we handle something of this magnitude? Would we steward it appropriately? Would we recognize it with the same level of legitimacy as we do in other parts of the world? Or with the same level of attention we’ve given to the mega church? What would happen in this consumeristic country if we really reverted back to what was common practice in the early church? What if we allowed things to become this uncomplicated?