“And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave
the dead to bury their own dead.’”
What might a typical small-church service look like? Well, let’s be creative about this. Here’s one thing we know, “normal” church is very scripted. Music, Sermon, Music, Run. We are not bound to that.
When? It doesn’t really matter. Paul addresses that in Romans 14:9. A spirit-filled Christian should be in worship mode 24/7, so the day of the week doesn’t matter. Sunday seems to work well, culturally, but it could be any day. It could even change from week to week depending on schedules. I believe that done right, nobody will want to miss. One last thing. This shouldn’t be a meet-and-dash thing. Make time to spend together afterwards. Have a meal. Play a game of kickball with the kids. Do a community project together. Remember, the DAY is meant to be holy, not one hour. Besides, this time together will become precious.
Where? Homes. Maybe a small, rented space. Here’s the thing to remember. The whole idea is to stay small. As soon as we start thinking about buying something, the idea of bigger gets rooted. With bigger comes obligation, with obligation comes pressure to accommodate differing views of scripture. With bigger also comes the ability to hide and the inability to reach people in need. Home churches have ZERO overhead. All the money is available to build God’s kingdom as he leads us.
Leadership? The whole idea behind this is to make disciples. Leadership isn’t just for select individuals. Leadership is for everyone. While I believe that scripture teaches that men are appointed by God to be the spiritual head of the home and church, that certainly doesn’t preclude women from leadership responsibilities. Quite the contrary, we are all called to leadership somewhere, somehow in life. What better place to learn it than church? Having said that, it is of utmost importance to learn this skill in a working lab environment. Therefore, leadership should rotate regularly. Yes, some will lead better than others. Good leaders build other leaders by taking an active, but supportive, role to encourage and enable the others to be good leaders themselves. Do you see what I mean?
Topics? That’s totally up to the church. Maybe there is an interest in end times. Maybe there is a need to study life-applications, such as money management. Maybe you want to study up on prayer. You name it. Make it biblically-centered and focused and you can’t go wrong. It would be wise for the entire church to read the entire bible in a year – same plan, same pace. This could be a particularly interesting time of discussion. You may find some people that really love to dive into topics and share them with the rest. Remember, we have a collection of experts and leaders. You’ll be surprised how much you learn.
Individual Needs? Take time to share personal lives. What’s going on? Where do you need prayer and support? It doesn’t take many people to gather before there are real, pressing issues. This is the perfect environment to pour our love into each other, to pray for each other, and to help out in whatever way that is needed. Maybe there is a financial need. Guess what? The church is now free to spend the entire tithe on that, if necessary. What if someone needs other care? Guess what? I’ll bet the church will jump at the chance! You’ll find a “check-in” time becomes a priceless opportunity to love one another. You’ll break bonds that may be generations in length.
Tithe? While a case can be made that the New Testament doesn’t provide for tithing, one would certainly miss a great blessing by not. What should be done with this money? Let’s start with the premise that it is God’s money. Does that mean that each family decides what to spend it on? Or, is it a community decision? Perhaps the right answer is both. I think the primary thing is to ensure flexibility. Sending a check to so-and-so each month is fine, but too much takes the personal touch out of it. There is something about knowing where and to who the money is spent. Maybe money is collected and saved to wait for God’s prompting. Be careful about this, however. A pile of money can be a temptation for greed and power struggles (1 Timothy 6:10).
Prayer? Forget the idea of prayer team! You now have a prayer church! When you start to see God move through your prayer, you will get so fired up that you all will become prayer warriors. Oh, sure, you’ll probably make a prayer closet at home, like Miss Clara in War Room. You’ll also find that your church will be a prayer closet full of prayer warriors! Can you imagine what that War Room would be like? My guess is you’ll find yourselves meeting at other times – at the drop of a hat – for power prayer sessions! Can you imagine what that would be like? A whole church who understands and is hungry for prayer? Wow!
Lord’s Supper? Yes, this is something that needs to be done every week. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Jesus IS coming, right? It might even be today. Let’s be ready.
Can you imagine this? Is this something that makes more sense than what we are doing now? Jesus is coming soon, my friends! Let’s not be caught off guard.
Matthew 24:38-39 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Have you been fired up about Jesus enough to share the gospel with ANYONE lately? Folks, think about this small church stuff. We aren’t meant to be alone, but we aren’t meant to be lost among those in a dead church, either. In my humble opinion, far too many churches are either already dead or dying. Why be part of that? Preach the gospel to those folks, I say, but “follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22).
Father, Jesus said some really tough things. Guide us who have ears to hear. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers