I get this question a lot, so I thought I’d post the exchange here, so i won’t have to rewrite it so many times:
First of all, thank you for the encouragement you have been to us in the last year. We left the institutional church a little over a year ago and honestly do not think we can ever go back. Your blog, book – So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, Transitions and The Shack have been both freeing and refreshing to us.
Secondly, not asking you to critique or anything but how does your belief system differ from the organic church movement? We read Pagan Christianity and it really opened our eyes. We don’t want to start a house church because we think that can be just moving the institution to the home. If you are willing to give it, we would like your opinion on the whole apostolic house church movement.
To answer your question, In my view the organic church movement, is not very organic. How can it be when they give you all the models to follow? And I’m never thrilled with movements. They always seem to have too much of a touch of man’s plans and human efforts behind it. People create the illusion of a movement for many reasons. Some might be sincere, thinking they are providing a valuable resource for God’s people, though that is rarely the result. More often they end up only trying to validate people that they are part of ‘something special’, or to sell them their books and seminars. God just doesn’t work that way. He moves freely in the earth inviting people to him.
The apostolic house church movement is also too man-driven and program-centered for my tastes. Body life rises out of brothers and sisters who simply want to learn to share Father’s life together as friends and to have his heart in reaching out to others in the simplicity of living their lives. People doing that will find the life of the church springing up around them. It can’t be imposed by implementing any system or model, which only teaches people to play church instead of really living as it.
Thus, discipleship (learning to walk with Jesus) precedes any depth of real community together. So learn to follow him. Encourage others to do so. Follow what God puts on your heart to do together in joy and freedom and you’ll find yourselves being the church. Set up a weekly meeting with a mini-ritual and soon you’ll feel like its just a routine you’re going through. Because it is. But let God connect you with people who want to share a journey, and your life together can take on a myriad of expressions in different seasons as best serves his purposes in the community in which you live.
God wants to give us real frienships with others and teach you to share his life together. We’ll get to experience that simply if we don’t try to put something else together on our own first. Then we’ll just end up with another substitute, not the real deal.
He can do this in you. Ask him to show you and just follow what he puts on your heart each day as you learn to live in the reality of his love…