There have been many “Aha” moments in my life where a realization hits that changes everything. A few years ago I had one such epiphany. Prior to this moment I had given my life to starting churches that multiplied.
I heard the Lord say to me, “So if you get hundreds of thousands of people meeting together in homes all over the world do you think that will be enough to change the world?”
It wasn’t that starting churches was a bad idea, I am still investing in that. But there is more, much more, to be done beyond a meeting. The church is meant to work together, not just worship together––in fact working together is worshiping together.
Since then I have been a part of starting more than churches, but missional kingdom outposts. Yes, these are indeed churches of a sort, but meeting in regularly scheduled bible studies is not the aim, and often isn’t even what happens.
Is a regularly scheduled meeting a good thing? Of course it can be. The meeting, however, does not make a church, any more than a regularly scheduled meeting is what makes your family a family. Can a church exist without a scheduled meeting? Yes it can.
There are no sermons, Sunday schools or “services,” in these kingdom outposts, yet the Scriptures are the foundation to all they do. People live and work in community, not just sing songs and pass the plate. There are no offerings taken, but there is tremendous generosity. The people of these works share their lives together. They are giving so much more than their time and ten percent of their treasure to the kingdom work. These people are giving up their whole being––their sweat, provision, vocation and sense of purpose and identity––all to Jesus.
I would measure the disciples coming out of these outposts against any coming from traditional church forms. I’m not being boastful, just honest. I have spent time with some followers of Christ from this movement and they are not like the typical churchgoer. As my friend and associate Dezi Baker says, "they are different enough to make a difference."
I realized a while ago that you can’t produce a world changing disciple with a one hour service on Sundays and a midweek hour of bible study. The deluded idea that this is how we do our spiritual work is both vast and void. Disciples are made in the hard work of real life––in the marketplace, not a meeting place. Our impact should be felt in the populace not just in the pews. We should measure our influence out on the streets not in the seats.