By Bill Tenny-Brittian
My mechanical aptitude and abilities are legendary at The Rock. Master Mechanic Randy Stewart (and others) seldom lets me forget that I went to add power steering fluid to my car one afternoon and poured the oil into the brake master cylinder—not a good thing. Randy, God bless his soul, had to essentially rebuild the whole upper end of my braking system on a hot afternoon in the old church parking lot.
Over the years, Randy’s fixed a number of problems on my cars. A broken axel, squeaky and wobbly brakes, and a car that wouldn’t run. Today, every now and again, I’ll attempt to fix something myself. Sometimes it works, but most of the time I end up calling Randy. And I’d never take on a complicated task of say, changing my oil or giving my car a tune up. I know what the consequences would be.
I have a saying that you can’t become a mechanic if you only spend an hour a week standing in the shop. I’ve learned enough about mechanics to be dangerous—seriously dangerous.
Robert Schuler is one of my heroes of the faith. His innovative church planting, his attitudes towards life, and his Christian faith have been an inspiration to me for years. But I have small disagreement with him:
I don’t think an “hour of power” is enough to do anyone any good, let alone make a disciple out of believer (of an unbeliever, for that matter).
If you take a look at the early church—you know, the one in Acts 2-4, we don’t see a bunch of Christians gathering once a week at some central location to worship, do discipleship, engage in fellowship, serve their neighbors and each other, and engage in evangelism. And they certainly did nothing in a single hour.
Now, I know that in the typical church, active church members spend significantly more time doing church activities, but for many people in most churches those activities are most often: board meetings, committee meetings, and educational opportunities. Now, there’s nothing wrong with these activities, but most of the time spent “doing church” is less about being a growing and active disciple in the world and more about being a part of the support system for the existing organization.
So, what did the early church do? They spent time together. Significant time. Time like meeting “daily” to worship, to eat meals, to encourage each other, and to learn to be like Jesus. They didn’t spend an hour studying the Bible and then wondering how to apply it—instead they spent hours modeling and doing and being Christians. They learned with each other what it meant to love one another. They shared their finances, their food, their time, their joys, their trials, and their lives together. They were friends. Everyone took care of one another—and they did it so well that people on the “outside” wanted to be one of them and could say of the Christians, “Look how much they love each other.” I can’t remember ever hearing someone outside—or inside for that matter—saying, “Look at how those church people love each other.”
The House Church offers a unique opportunity to do and to be like the early church. But to do so, we have to unlearn what many of us have come to understand about the church. And we have to make the time—and yes, in today’s world that would be a sacrifice—but what a way to “spend” our lives, sacrificing ourselves for the establishment of the Kingdom of God in our lives right here and right now. To give ourselves to the joy that comes from being in the midst of people who live the kind of life that Jesus modeled—and has called us to join.
There is no such thing as an Hour of Power that will recharge our spiritual batteries in one sitting. Instead, we’re a people who need significant time to live and to love as Christ loved. And that kind of life doesn’t happen by standing in the worship center (or even in a House Church) for an hour. It takes a lifetime.