Wednesday, August 2, 2006

"Our Church Is Smaller!"

I LOVE Relevant Magazine. Who cares about CNN or FOXnews - I get my current events from the "slices" at I also love the way they seem to completely agree with me theologically and culturally. Way to go, Relevant!

I've posted a couple of their articles here before that deal with the "small church" theology. In conversations I have gone on and on about "small church", often pointing to the way the church in Communist China is thriving, not in spite of - but because of - the persecution. Today, Relevant posted an article by R.C. Bachmann called Our Church Is Smaller! on their front page, and it blew me away. I write this post to recommend it to you. The cool thing about Relevant's articles is that they are barely a page long - so check it out.

Apparently, the Chinese government has actually gone so far as to authorize two choices for Christians - The Roman Catholic Church (for Catholics) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (for Protestants). It was even more interesting to hear that:

Not one of the people they encountered said they belonged to either of the authorized churches. Instead, nearly everyone answered that they were members of “house churches.”

“Aren’t house churches illegal?” my friend asked.

“Of course they are,” answered one Chinese Christian. “But the government leaves house churches alone as long as each one remains small. Apparently they do not think small churches are a threat.”
Later - as they are discussing what a typical Lord's Day looks like, he mentions:
“Our church is about 20 people. We tithe 10 percent of our income, and from that money we can rent an apartment that is used just for church. Two of the brothers get to the apartment early Sunday morning and begin too prepare a meal for the others.”

"Yeah, our church serves donuts and coffee, too,” my friend offered.

The Chinese brother smiled: “Well, this meal they prepare will be the biggest meal of the day. While they are cooking, brothers and sisters begin to show up one or two at a time. We all come at different times so as to avoid attracting attention.”
Their meeting lasts the entire day, and they leave just the same way they arrive - in groups of one or two - so as not to attract attention.

For all my going on about house-churches, and pointing toward the Chinese - it may be that what they have there can't be reproduced in America. Perhaps because of the hundreds of years of institutional religion, or because of the lack of persecution. But it sure does feel like home to me.

Currently Listening
She Must and Shall Go Free
By Derek Webb
Track #10 - The Church

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