The New (Old) Wineskin of The Church

If you’ve been following this blog or my story, you will know that since 2016 the Lord called me out of the institutional church (I see now he had been warning me of this since 2010) and told me to ‘circle the wagons’ and unlearn a few things before stepping forward. After some healing and resting, the Lord took me back to the basics of church of meeting in homes and being active on the streets.

When Covid broke out in my area in March 2020, one of my life coaching & spiritual direction clients texted me:

“Oh my goodness! Did you prophesy the home church movement?”

Interestingly 2,000 years or so ago, church began as an organic house church movement. It wasn’t until a few hundred years later that it became an institution under the Roman Emperor Constantine. It went from the priesthood of ALL believers to professionalization of pastors. Today, you will find that the majority of ‘believers’ do not know how to do what Jesus called us to do.

Matthew 28:18-20 ERV

“So he came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.”

Matthew 10:7-8 ERV

“When you go, tell them this: ‘God’s kingdom is now very near. Heal the sick. Bring the dead back to life. Heal the people who have leprosy. And force demons out of people.”

Since 2010 already while working as an institutional church pastor, the Lord poured out the phrase: “new wine” over and over for me. Here’s one of my old posts from 2010…

Then, in 2018, the Lord started partnering me with pastors, missionaries around the world who were needing coaching support. I heard their frustrations and desire for Holy Spirit to lead them. I kept my own journey to myself. When I began to ask them questions, I began to hear their hearts respond with similar statements that sounded familiar. When I shared with them what God was doing through Disciplemaking movements around the world, they were floored. In 2019 in my area, two Lead Pastors of large institutional churches admitted to their congregations that what they were doing was all off.

I continue to get pastors and missionaries asking me my perspective. Recently, a Lead Pastor sent me this:

“Hey Merri Ellen, What do you think the way forward looks like for discipleship and sharing the gospel under Covid restrictions? Just curious about your thoughts as I hear what ‘churches’ are identifying what they think is the way forward.”

It was a great question and I love that pastors are more and more hungry to find an answer in this unique season.

The beautiful thing about Covid restrictions is that it forces us to get back to the small few, the organic. One can easily meet with a few people, or use technology (in an interactive way).

I think the bigger hang up is are we willing to give up our paid pastoral positions and expensive buildings that could be keeping us from fulfilling the Great Commission? (If you’re a paid pastor, be encouraged. There’s some help below…)

But, first…

Recently, I read this article: The Death of Sunday Morning written from a perspective of what God has been doing far on the other side of my world. It forces us to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to leave an old wine skin behind in order to follow Jesus and share His Good News?”

Here’s one perspective…

Luke 14:25-27 ERV

“Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.

Matthew 19:29 NLT

“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.”

For many years, institutional church pastors have been taking this difficult road in leading their congregations into movement. If you’re a paid pastor, you need to learn about Roy. Roy Moran is one. In this post I share more about him.

What are your thoughts about where God is leading His Bride?

Please share below…

The Contagious Bible-focused, Spirit-led Study Tool

discovery_bible_study

(***This was originally posted in Feb 2018. Notice the title of the post? Since the Corona Virus, this has become even more valuable to use in BEING the Church! Simply adjust to doing this through an interactive video conferencing software or phone and you’re off to multiply.)

There is a mind-blowing, powerful yet simple Bible Discovery practice/tool being used in house churches around the world where the Kingdom of God is spreading like wildfire.

It’s contagious! 

Bible-focused,
Spirit-led.
You learn to truly digest the Word of God / the Bible and hear God’s voice yourself.
You share what you’re learning with others!
In light of what you’re learning, you ask God for ways to apply it all.
A movement begins…!

“When my word goes forth, it shall not return empty or void, but will accomplish the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

God’s Word does what He said it would do—if WE get out of the way.

Okay! What’s the contagious part… aside from having a Divine experience in the Word of God?

The contagious part that goes viral is when others want to join your group (because you are sharing how powerful it is and what you are learning),…

BUT you don’t add people to your group.

What?

Nope.

We aren’t trying to build a huge group.

That would prevent multiplication.

Plus, when a group gets larger than 5 people, it no longer holds tight relationships.

The key to multiplying is to keep it small. (Yes, this flies in the face of ‘bigger is better’.) Why? Because, when you become a large group, you no longer have everyone engaged and participating, using their gifts. Instead, we are wanting to truly do life together and empower each other to discover and use their gifts.

You start with the interested person in a new group but on their turf. You go into their home or wherever they choose and have them invite anyone else and facilitate the process over 2-4 weeks time and then pull out and allow them to take the lead. The beauty is in empowering others, and preventing them from expecting you to feed them. They can learn to feed themselves and then empower others to do the same. (Sure, you check back with them from time to time offering help and mentoring, but don’t take the lead of their group and their sub-culture. Let Holy Spirit transform them!)

There’s an incredible joy in watching people’s lightbulbs come on above their heads simply by reading the Word and asking a few simple questions. God’s Word is alive.

It’s contagious! 🙂

You have a few options…

1. Are you not in a church of any kind? 
Perfect. Start a house church/discovery group! 🙂 Join with family and friends. 5 people or less is ideal. Use the help guides below allowing God’s Word to teach you.

Here are some quick links…
Get started and see how powerful it is!

What is it? (Simple and Powerful – Discovery Bible Study in a nutshell)

Getting Started DBS Packet

Quick and Handy Guide

List of Scriptures you can start with.

Extensive List of Scriptures based on desired focus.

2. Are you in an institutional church wanting to learn how to add this powerful strategy? (Disciple-Making Movements Hybrid Strategy)
If so, read… Spent Matches by Roy Moran (Book Summary highlights)

 

Disciple making Movements?

Disciple-Images-2

Image: www.exponential.org

If what you’re doing isn’t working, why keep doing it? (…Or at least add an additional track like one mega church in Texas did after doing the math. For that full story, see link at bottom of this post.)

This past weekend, I enjoyed sitting in on a session with a gentleman serving overseas (cannot name country due to security).

My friend and I were blown away by the stories of how fast the Gospel is spreading through the disciple making movement. 100,000 disciples on track to double in the next 14 months. I quickly saw why – the level of community in a small group along with the hunger to multiply and share the Word with others in a way that allows the Word to teach a small group rather than a guru or highly educated pastor (which actually has been shown to stump the growth of the Gospel he said because most NA pastors have been trained to talk rather than listen).

The missionary explained that small groups allow people to engage and participate and hear from Holy Spirit directly from the Word, rather than another person’s interpretation of the Word.

Picture this…

Starting with a group of 5 people or so meeting in a living room perhaps.
Sharing things to be thankful for, challenges, etc. Listening to each other.
Reading aloud passage of Scripture together.
Asking themselves a few simple Qs from the passage.
Reflecting together. Going back to the Word.
Praying together and for each other.
Committing to share what God reveals with someone in their week and helping each other and neighbours in their community in practical need.
Together.
Little to no money.
Leaders/facilitators developed and multiplied as new groups form.
Entire families and communities transformed!! (like in the book of Acts).

God’s Word and Love spreading rapidly because of the…
Word /
life together /
prayer …focus.

No Master’s Degree required (because it actually hinders the multiplication putting emphasis on a human teaching rather than the Word.)

The stories were amazing.
Numbers unreal.
Blows any North American mindset.
Yikes.

Does this work in North America?

It is reportedly happening like wildfire as traditional churches dwindle and home churches rapidly multiply. People are hungry for spiritual relationship with God, and life together with people committed to each other.

How one megachurch in Texas has heard the call to adopt a new strategy after doing the math: https://youtu.be/jJhlfRPbpC0 Even in Texas!

Learn more here…: Contagious Bible-focused, Spirit-led study turned movement…