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‘When can we be the church?’

Guy Muse is a missionary in Ecuador. He writes a good blog. I especially liked this one: When Mónica called saying she and her husband needed an urgent meeting, my heart sank. Usually when someone calls for a private meeting, there is some problem that has arisen and we are the ones the…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Guy Muse is a missionary in Ecuador. He writes a good blog. I especially liked this one:
When Mónica called saying she and her husband needed an urgent meeting,
my heart sank. Usually when someone calls for a private meeting, there
is some problem that has arisen and we are the ones they come to for
help. Both are new believers who have grown tremendously in the Lord. I
dreaded hearing whatever it was that had happened.

Geovanny (our
team leader) and I met with Mónica and Medardo. Both of us were
expecting the worse. After the initial small talk, they got down to why
they had called the meeting.

Mónica voiced their concern, “When can we be a church?”

As hard as it was for me to think this was the real issue at hand, and not something else, I went along and began a series of questions…

“How many believers gather together with you?”

Medardo
answered, “Usually between 10 and 15, but only seven have been baptized
so far this year (2009). The rest are waiting until we can coordinate a
time when we can all get down to the river.”

“How often do you gather together. Once, twice a week?”

“We
meet every evening Tuesday-Sunday from about 7:00pm till people get
tired and go home,” answered Mónica. “They are just so excited and
eager to learn and share. We tried suggesting getting together only 3-4
times a week, but that didn’t go over very well with the group.”

“You’re telling me that six evenings a week you meet there in your home?”

“Oh
no, we rotate between three different houses. Ours and in the homes of
two other families who recently gave their hearts to the Lord and are
being discipled.”

Out of curiosity, I couldn’t help but ask, “if you are meeting Tuesday to Sunday, why don’t you go ahead and meet on Monday evenings as well?”

“Oh
no, brother Guido, that’s the day we have our team meeting. We told
everyone they were welcome to meet on Mondays, but that we wouldn’t be
there.”

“Oh.”

I continued, “How many of those days are spent praying?”

“Tuesday
evenings are dedicated entirely to prayer. We pray for all our lost
family members, we pray for our country, we pray for each others
problems, we pray…”

They went on to tell me all the things they are praying for and fully expecting God to answer.

I then asked the first question that caused them to lower their heads and break eye contact, “have you been able yet to start any other new groups?”

Mónica
seemed embarrassed, but answered, “only two. What with my husband’s
working, and my own family responsibilities, we just haven’t had any
more time.”

“Where are these groups meeting?” I asked.

“On
Wednesday afternoons we go to Sergio Toral where we are discipling some
new believers, and Sunday afternoons we have a group meeting in
Bastion. We know that’s not a lot, but we are praying the Lord for a
third new group.”

“What has been the greatest joy for you?”

“Seeing lives transformed, and people hungry to learn more about God.”

“What has been the hardest part for you?” (thinking surely it must be the nightly gatherings and the impact upon their family life)

“The
hardest part is our feeling of inadequacy in that all the new believers
are coming to us with their questions and problems and we don’t know
what to do except pray for them. Their lives are so messed up. They
look to us for answers since we are the ones who know the most about
the Bible. We wish we knew God’s Word better than we do so that we
could help them more.”

At that point we stopped and Geovanny and
I talked with them for several minutes about allowing the Holy Spirit
to be the One to guide them and that loving their new brothers and
sisters in Christ by just being there with them was something the Lord
would use for his glory.

After a few minutes, Mónica interrupted and asked again, “so when can we be a church?”

“Medardo and Mónica”, we said, “YOU ARE ALREADY A CHURCH! AND HAVE BEEN ONE NOW FOR QUITE SOME TIME!”

At
that, they smiled and we talked about putting together a celebration
where several of the other house churches would be invited for a time
of praise and thanksgiving. They liked that idea, and Mónica began
talking about what food might be good to prepare for this special
occasion.

As I drove home after the meeting, I couldn’t help but
reflect on the DNA that had been injected into them from the beginning
by another team member, Marlene, who led them to the Lord a little over
a year ago. Marlene modeled and lived the message she preached to them,
sacrificing herself for them as she discipled them faithfully for
nearly a year. She taught and modeled for them the very life in Christ
they were now modeling for those they were leading!

No one has ever told them Christians only gather on Sunday mornings for church.

No one ever told them churches less than a year old cannot start 2-3 new churches themselves.

No
one ever told them they needed more than the Holy Spirit and the Word
of God in order to lead three different house churches–all of which
came to the Lord through their personal witness.

No one told them that to be church you have to have all this “stuff.”

They are just doing it, trusting the Lord as they go along. And the Lord is blessing!

Comments (11)

  • Thanks, Seth.

    What an incredible indictment of Western churches that keep going through the “all you can eat from Jesus buffet” porking out on the offerings of orthodoxy and waddling back to comfortable seats waiting until their capacity increases and they can go eat–more.

    The Living God is a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He moves.

    And my visceral sense is that He swings through America once in awhile but takes refuge in hungry hearts in other places. The Gospel was meant to play out in soil filled with the rich decay of anticipating compost. Our culture wants to keep the reckless good news in hermetically sealed bags.

    We aren’t a church in so many places.

    We are a club. When I lived in Texas “church” was where you went before you had b-b-q and watched the Dallas Cowboys play football.

    God help us.

    God help–me.

  • This is so encouraging for all of us that have struggled with feeling inadequate. I love that when we remove ourselves from the western thinking of degrees and certifications and experience… that it becomes real simple and bears much fruit.

  • Ouch! That touched a sensitive tooth for someone out there. How reminiscent of the early Acts church. Thank you Mónica and Medardo for just keeping your eyes on Jesus and being obedient to God’s call for your lives – no matter what the religious world might say.

  • I know this might raise some feathers, but here goes:

    So then, why do we (you and me reading this) continue to do the American church thing? What in the heck are we doing???! We KNOW what church is to be but even for those of us out here, we continue to buy into to Sunday do this, do that, stand up, sit down, shake hands, sing a few songs, hear some guy talk, smile and go home thing.

    I’m still waiting for some prominent leader to make a stand and pronounce (and really mean it) “We must cease doing the American church thing – stop going to church America!” (Context needed here – please don’t go off on me).

    When will prominent pastors/leaders come to the point and say “We are disbanding our multi-million (or multi-thousand) dollar operation. Beginning in 6 months, we will no longer cease. Now go and just be church…”

    “Oh God, help us please. Raise up some leaders who will encourage us to just BE church.”

  • As I read thru the blog, I kept saying with joy, “You ARE a church!” This is the true definition of “organic.” And why do we not see this more often here? As Samuel Lamb from China said, “In the West, the Christians are dedicated, but here, the believers are surrendered.” Dedication still gives us control; surrender means recognition that our lives are not our own. I pray for hunger and surrender. It is happening here in pockets and is growing. I know I need all my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love them, but it is a mystery to me why there is any draw left in them for the traditional, manmade structure we call “church.” It is forever gone for me. Yay to life in meeting together thru the week, house to house, and praying and ministering together!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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