There's no place like home

Where would you rather be the church?


Faith communities, gathering as small groups in homes or similar intimate settings have had a long and significant history. Biblically we see this form of devoted community as early as the first Passover, when exiled Jewish families worshiped God together for sustaining their lives. “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. . .and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. . . And the people bowed low and worshiped.” (Ex.12:22,27) In many places in the New Testament, the first ‘church’ gatherings were clearly home centered. For example: “. . . and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in your house:” (Philemon 1:2) “. . . also greet the church that is in their house.” (Ro. 16:5) “Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” (1 Cor.16:19) Among the listed spiritual practices which these house churches engaged in are: prayer, devotion to the apostles teaching, baptism, fellowship, breaking of bread, sharing of property and possessions, eating meals together, praising God. Robert Webber writes:

The younger evangelical is interested in building organic communities, not huge Wal-Mart churches that deliver a full range of Christian consumer goods. The Constantinian church is characterized by professional clergy who have been trained in acceptable seminaries and passed through examinations conducted by their peers. Their job is to deliver the goods and services. . .Lay people, for whom the clergy work, are the consumers of the [religious] goods and services.

In the Constantinian church the local church SENT missionaries. In the pre-Constantinian and now post-modern paradigms, the church does not SEND missionaries, nor does it have a missionary "program." Instead, it IS a mission. The postmodern church invites people in its neighborhood into the new alternative community of people who embody the kingdom.

Communities of faith are far from being a fad but have consistently functioned as important spiritual formation contexts of the past, present (and likely future) generations. Emerging faith communities are focused more on finding common mission than doctrinal common ground. BREATHE is an emerging faith community that is standing in a stream of historical precedent.

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