All of you who have known us through the years know how much we value relationships. We encourage everyone to pursue relationship with the Father and each other in ever increasing ways. Loving God with all that we are, and loving each other as the Body of Christ regardless of Race, Creed, or Expression. We have friends in many streams who love God, and follow after Him with their lives and yet are very different in how they may express their faith. We know some who meet regularly in a church building and we know some that gather in homes, some who meet in coffee shops and some meeting each week to honor God in a business environment.
We see people walking uprightly before God and man in all of these gatherings and actually the most healthy ones we have observed relationally meet in a variety of places regularly. We see conversation, ministry, prayer, healing,, and transformation take place as the Spirit of the Lord is concerned about the hearts of His people. Father is concerned about people more than He is about a building or structure. He uses structure at times to create context and a conducive environment for His will to be accomplished
We can have all kinds of reasons as to why our expression and methods are the best, and we can create every reason and find ever scripture to prove it. The bottom line is, God is much bigger than our pradigms, and He uses many things that do not fit within them. Jesus was a rebel to the established religious community of His day. The Disciples were radical in their ability to bring in the New Covenant in the midst of the old. The truth is, we all need to open up a bit more, without compromising plumb-line biblical truth of love, honoring God, each other, and in bringing the Gospel of His glorious Kingdom to the earth.
In years past, there seemed to be a wide gap between Catholics, protestants, house church, and approximately 36,000 Christian denominations .The gap seems to be closing as His Spirit is being poured out and the Lord is converging His people unto Himself and one another. Those hearing His voice cannot remain exclusive any longer, and are becoming more inclusive in relating to others and their differences. We must hold true to Fathers foundations while accepting those who have a worldview that may be just a bit different than ours.
Regardless of structure or preference, there are those who are walking obediently and humbly before God and man, and there are those that are not. There are those who have moved on to new expressions because they may have been hurt by a previous system. Anyone operating from hurt rather than from a progressively whole position need healing and need to move from bitterness to forgiveness of those who may have caused pain. Regardless of the reasons why people choose the community of faith that they do, we must try and work with those we can, and accept one another as family in order to fulfill the Lord's prayer in John 17 of being one in Him.
Last year I was part of the annual House Church Conference. It was a wonderful experience and yet Joyce and I were asked by some if we were house church people. I shared with them that we were not house church people, but that we were obedient to gather as the Lord led which meant, sometimes in homes, businesses, or coffee shops, and sometimes in dedicated buildings. The answer I usually give is this, "I am a Kingdom of God person that includes everyone who is pursuing Christ and His Kingdom, regardless of how they may be led to do so". Through relational and organizational community, we can bring accountability to one another that challenges us to live God honoring lives.
Tony and Felicity Dale, the Founders of House 2 House Ministries are friends of ours, and we will be involved once again at the annual conference on Labor Day weekend in Dallas. We will be facilitating the Marketplace portion of the conference. I was very excited to hear from Tony that this year includes some main stream church organizations and leaders. This was such a thrill to hear this and see how God's people are coming together to find dialogue, and ways to connect with each other while building community. As our friend Bob Mumford says, "It is not about the system or structure, but about His people moving in His Agape ways while moving towards the center, which is Christ, and the Kingdom of God".
There are many in every expression of Christianity trying to find ways to connect with each other and those around them towards Agape life-giving relationships. For those of you who would like to experience this unique opportunity of smaller relational gatherings within a larger faith community, this is one conference to consider. There will be several workshops that are heavy in the participation and dialogue of all those attending. I will keep you posted on these workshops as well as the marketplace sessions that I will facilitate. There is an early bird special rate until June 8th and here is the link with the information needed.