Following is a guest post written by Patrick Maina who works closely with us in communications for Appleseed Ministry. Patrick is native-born to Kenya and has a long history in both organic/house church and missions. The original article was posted. . .
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IC, a Life Support Machine?

Following is a guest post written by Patrick Maina who works closely with us in communications for Appleseed Ministry. Patrick is native-born to Kenya and has a long history in both organic/house church and missions. The original article was posted here.

Life-support-machineIC, a life support machine or what?

“You sound like you are saying that it is wrong to go to the IC (Institutional Church).”

This was a statement by a visitor to a house church gathering I was a part of this last week. It happened that we had quite a number of first time visitors and somehow we got to explaining why a number of us stopped going to church, but instead meet at home.

As different people explained their journey and how they found their way into the house church, it must have sounded to the visitor like we were bashing the IC. Through the discussions and explanations, some insights came out that I’d like to highlight:

1. Church is not a form, but a living organism made up of many parts that live by the life of Christ within. That means that church exists both inside and outside of the IC.

2. IC is like a life support system and those that have difficulties breathing probably need it. It’d be foolish to say that you do not need a life support machine when you are not able to breath without it. On the other hand, overstaying ones need for the life support system would be detrimental to anyone’s ability to function independently.

Since that meeting, I have continued to ponder my real reasons for leaving the IC. By rephrasing Watchman Nee’s words, I have some key reasons that resonate with me:

“There are at least four things that institutionalize Christianity: an intermediate priesthood, a written code, a physical temple, and earthly promises. Those who truly know God have had the influence of institutional-ism completely nullified to the point that not one of these elements exists in their spiritual life.”

Intermediate priesthood:

The concept of covering as taught in most institutional Christianity has largely contributed to the believers’ limitation in walking in their true standing as sons of God. We have boldness by Christ Jesus to call God, our Father:

Galatians 4:6
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

A written code:

Code of conduct does not produce the righteousness of God for,

3 … what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.. (Rom 8)

A physical temple:

Going to church entrenches in the mind of the believer the old covenant concept of a physical location or building being where God is found. On the other hand it diminishes the consciousness of the God who now dwells (all the time) inside of the believer, when he/she has to be at their best on Sunday morning.

1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

John 14:23
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Earthly promises:

Jesus seemed during His earthly ministry to encourage people to give priority to the heavenly concerns and their earthly needs will be supplied in the process:

Matthew 6:

“31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

This is in great contrast to what we often hear of the gospel presented today. The world offerings are presented as part of the promise of God to the followers of Christ. We ought to face the reality that for the simple reason that we are followers of Christ, we are on collision course with the world system. Jesus’ own words testifies to that fact:

John 16:
“33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

There is a sure promise that ought to give us comfort:

Hebrews 13:5
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Rom 8:
“35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Dear ones, it is to freedom that Christ called us, therefore, let no man’s attempt to contain the movement of God get you into bondage:

Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

John 8:36
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Enjoy the glorious liberty of the sons of God.



Zoom Workshop on Introduction to House Church

Zoom-lets-zoomWe are offering our next 1-hour zoom workshop on Introduction to House Church.

Time: Wednesday, September 6, 2023 at 5:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time

Sign up here if you are interested!

This introductory workshop is best for those who are newer to house church or still exploring.

We will cover several basic topics that will help you start or participate in an organic, house church:

1. Change Your Thinking from Institutional to Biblical and Organic
2. Learn the Four Elements of a New Testament House Church
3. Discover Five Ways to Start a House Church
4. Learn About the Dynamic House Church Gathering
5. Understand How to Make Room for Multiplication
6. Discover the Key to Sustaining House Churches
7. Q&A

More information here.


De-Churching of America

DechurchOne of many authors writing books and articles on The Great Dechurching said: "We are experiencing the largest religious shift in US history – greater than the Great Awakenings, but in the opposite direction."

While this is undoubtedly true, especially in regard to the organized church, my question is: "Is this a negative thing or does it present one of the greatest opportunities this country has seen in a long time?

My concern is that we continue to look backward to when we expected the organized church to somehow woo people to Christ with its contemporary music worship and colorful sermons. In fact, to some extent we saw this happen in past decades. But at what cost?

Have we not come to trust and rely on the organization we call 'church' to influence the world for Christ and, in the process, lost what it actually means to be salt, light, and yeast in the world? As followers of Jesus, have we sometimes lost our deeper, intimate organic connection to Jesus that naturally resonates through us to the world because we became enamored with the potential of the 'wow' church to do it for us?

Perhaps we are in this situation 'for such a time as this.' Perhaps we will seek out community with people who encourage us to go deeper into Christ and then to be a light in a culture that is more confused, in-need, and lost than ever. May God help us. After all, the Spirit of God is individually and collectively residing in each one of us. In that reality lives the current Great Opportunity.


Pathfinders Meeting in Winnipeg

On October 13-14 our Canadian friends, Pathfinders, will be hosting a gathering near the geographic centre of Canada, Winnipeg!

"Yearning to reach others relationally? Interested in the fundamentals of simple/organic church? Rethinking what kingdom leadership looks like? Seeking to cultivate households of faith among specific people groups?"

Contact them here for more information.

Download the flyer here.


Love the Weak

Paul tells the elders, "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35).

Bird ShutterStockOur world is broken and, thus, the weak and hurting are everywhere. But we often fail to see them. They may look capable, speak with confidence, or display outer strength. They may be contentious or annoying. They may even be outwardly hurting, but we simply fail to see.

We had a young friend who seemed self-assured, confident, and outwardly together. I fully accepted her apparent strength and assumed her need of help was low. But my wife saw through that. She recognized this woman’s discontent at a deep level and was able to speak to it. This opened up a door for prayer and introduction to a God who loves, forgives, and leads. This happened because my wife saw what I failed to.

Help the weak. Love the weak.

Too often we contend with the weak rather than help because we only hear their outer diatribes as they rail against a world that is ‘not right.’ Maybe I disagree fully with their ideas and maybe they come across with pride and righteous certitude that raises my ire. But I try to remind myself that love is more than truthful words, otherwise, it is just a noisy clamor that is heard in the name of Christ all too often.

See the weak. Help the weak. Love the weak.

Early believers were known as those unusual people who would spend time in leper colonies helping the weak. Perhaps the church (ekklesia) will find a needed re-birth when our motivation reflects the same love and compassion toward the weak and we respond to the deep human needs that surround us.

We see wonderful growth in the church in Africa where the weak are easy to identify. More importantly, those who are reaching out are committed to helping and loving the weak and vulnerable. Yes, they are easy to see, but the workers also respond with love and care for the sufferers. This results in movements of Jesus-followers reaching and discipling Jesus-followers.

Help the weak. Love the weak.

Our world is broken. And people are broken. Perhaps when we begin to see this and respond with the one virtue we are to be known for we will see a new type of ‘church’ (ekklesia) spontaneously arise where we live, move, and work: simple Jesus-followers known for their love.