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Kimiko

That reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend in the past year about house churches. He was so excited by the organic, communal promise the idea gave him...but then I asked him, "How will evangelizing actually HAPPEN in that kind of church?" The idea that it will be completely informal, that you would casually talk about Jesus on the golf course (his example) struck me as altruistic. I wish it happened, but too often with no structure or conduit, it simply doesn't. It's too easy to stay away from "sensitive" subjects and just talk about your golf game (not that I play golf). Likewise, I asked him how discipleship would happen...again, he hoped it would happen informally in the context of relationship. In America, I don't see it happening. Romantic and compelling? Yes. But does it happen? Perhaps, to a point. But at best, I think what happens is you end up doing church in the more "traditional" sense, whether you like it or not. You have a bunch of people who have questions and you end up rounding everyone up and discussing their questions...people start having babies & they need childcare...you run out of small house church leaders & groups start getting big...I just see it evolving into church. It's just the way we are, I think. (This comes from a disgruntled Christian who thought for a while that house churches might be the only way to go to keep "the man" out of church.)

gary aronhalt

i just started reading "the present future" and so this is a fascinating discussion, here...

i am wrestling with these same issues, as we are starting trailhead... (and kimiko, are you talking about me with the house church idea? i was pretty excited about that for a while...)

anyhooo... my thought on those "attractional-missional" churches is that they seem very dependent on a personality... i should say that two of them seem dependent on personalities (both mars hill churches) and that is a tenuous foundation for a movement... and that kind of over-the-top growth is hard first to achieve, second to maintain and third to repeat...

i'm wondering a lot about this stuff... what role does service play in the new church world we find ourselves in? mcneal, in "the present future" talks about hands-dirty kind of service to love people where they are...

AND, what is the role of our large group gatherings? why do we do them? what should they include?

anyway. good stuff, hunter. let's drink beer and talk about this stuff sometime, eh?

Hunter Beaumont

Gary, good thoughts. I feel like the organic/house movement has done the same thing as the attractional church, just in reverse. Whereas the old style was all built around one man's charisma and preaching gift, the organic style is built around a few people's relational gifts. In fact, I attribute much of the organic movement to pastors who have strengths other than preaching and they're finally glad those strengths are being recognized as legit pastoral gifts that can be used to build a church. I sat in a conference like this a year ago, where the pastors were eager to cast-off the preaching mantle and hang out in coffee shops and do relational evangelism and counseling. That's probably because they never liked nor were gifted to preach in the first place but had been made to feel like the "had" to do that in order to be valuable. However, as a pastor who feels like I have a preaching gift, I really didn't feel wanted or welcomed at that conference. I thought to myself, "I'd love to work with several of these men, but they'd never let me devote myself to preaching."

My fascination with the attractional-missional movement is that I really think these churches are built around more than one man's strength. I'll just take one I know best: Mars Hill in Seattle. Yes, Driscoll is a very charismatic personality and excellent teacher. Mars Hill will attract a crowd partly because of him. But the more I get to know it, the less I think it's all built around Mark. They have a VERY impressive team of elders, most of whom have been brought to faith and developed within Mars Hill. That church is reaching Seattle in a big way not just through Mark's preaching but because they have tons of leaders (whom you never hear about) leading lots of different ministries.
Mark likens it to an air-war and ground-war working together. Sunday morning is the air war, but what really gives it legs is all the ground troops who are not as flashy but are doing great work.

Anyway...the real challenge here is to admit who we are as leaders and not be threatened by men who are gifted differently. Instead, the preachers want everything to be about their preaching and the organic types have reacted against that by denigrating the value of preaching (hit some house church blogs and read the resentment). If somehow the relational, organic types and the preachers could hook up, it would be dynamite.

David Robinson

Hunter,
I wanted to tell you that this article has been a great encouragement to me in the past few weeks. I've linked this page from my blog, because it really communicates alot of the kinds of conversations we're having in the next state to the east as well. I've really been challenged in this church planting process by those who look at the "old" church as having no relevance and the "new" church as being the end all be all and I find it difficult at times to know what to say. I guess that it really is a question of keeping the purity of the wine but bring wiling to use some new skins, because after all, "no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new. The old is good enough."

I'm a big fan of the old wine, and of the old mission. Thanks for your thoughts here.

gary aronhalt

hey there hunter (and kimiko and others...)
these are good conversations... i just read and had to write a big ol' paper on simon chan's "liturgical theology." chan wrestles with the theology of church. he's pretty high church and so that was a fascinating read after reading "the present future" which is from a guy who's low church. anyway...

but, hunter i think you strike on something good in the plurality of leadership stuff. perhaps driscoll has been painted to be more of an autocrat than he actually is? it is good to hear that mars hill seattle is more than just him... churches that are based on one dude are scary for me...

anyway, all the LORD's best to you and FBC...

gary

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