This week's teaching: "Five reasons to NOT do microchurch"
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When I was discerning whether to step out of conventional church ministry and focus on microchurches, I read and listened to many people who were already doing it. One piece of advice was jarring: "Don't think it will be easier. It's not easier."
I knew pastoring conventional churches is hard. But it's hard like running a business. Running a business is fine, even fun. But in my experience, the business approach to church often confuses entrepreneurial enthusiasm with evangelical fervor. Love of success replaces love of neighbor. Love for "my church" is confused as love for God. The business approach to being church isn't good. It's hard where it doesn't need to be hard.
In my heart I did want something easier! But not in a lazy way. I just wanted something more reliably effective at doing the things that matter. I just wanted to strip away whatever was too much.
Now that we've done it for close to two years, it's fair to say that microchurch is, in fact, an easier way to do the essential things — simply because we aren't trying to do non-essential things. But I've also noticed that once we take the non-essentials out of being church, non-essential things in other parts of life see their opportunity to become important. They crowd in to fill up the space, and they crowd out the essential things of being church.
It's there that we again discover our original conviction: Our flesh has a bias against the things that matter. "We have met the enemy and he is us."
I think a lot of people are attracted to microchurch for all the same reasons we were. But life keeps crowding out people's best desires to do something that's simply significant. For the same reasons that it's harder to run a conventional church, it's easier to attend a conventional church. Perhaps the only thing easier is not participating in any church.
I think the things that make it harder to belong to a microchurch are exactly the things that make it good. So, in this week's teaching, I decided to name the things that make it hard, so that we could lean into those good, hard things. I pray that it is for your strength and encouragement as you daily decide to spend your life on things that matter. And I pray that others will be drawn from the complacency of busyness to the devotion of simplicity.
For Christ's sake.
<TRANSCRIPT OF ABOVE VIDEO>
We've been doing microchurch for almost two years now, and it's wonderful. But I want to give you five reasons not to do it. Five reasons not to do microchurch instead of what we might say is "real church." And by "real church," I mean conventional church, like you show up on a Sunday morning, you attend a service that's prepared for you and you participate. But someone else is leading the way in the worship service.
Microchurch is different. Acts 2:42. "The believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." It says they continued to meet in the temple courts, yes, but also in each other's homes. They broke bread together. They just loved being together. And that's the core of this microchurch that we do. We meet in homes as compared to conventional church meeting in a church owned or rented space led by a pastor, preacher, song leader, the whole bit.
FIVE REASONS TO NOT DO MICROCHURCH INSTEAD OF "REAL" CHURCH.
1. It takes more effort.
It just does. It's not easy to do microchurch. It's not. it's not as easy as someone else doing all the work where you show up for the show, you show up and someone else has prepared a message, someone else has selected songs. It's not as easy. It takes more effort to do microchurch.
2. There's no show.
There's no show. After 22 years for me being on stage in conventional ministry, after that first time that we actually held church in our home, I was like, man, that was awful. Like, there was no feedback. There was no moment where I just had the crowd in my hands because I wasn't preaching a sermon. There was no moment where, man, that song really landed because we actually didn't even sing a song. There was no show, there was no stage. There was nothing to inspire.
But as I processed it and as I listened, the people who were a part of it said it was better than the show. So, if you like the show, yeah, microchurch has no show. There's no stage. There's no show.
3. You can't get lost in the crowd.
There's no anonymity. I think that's self-explanatory.
4. There's no motivational speaker to get you fired up or to get you beat down.
There's not a motivational speaker. You might be inspired by the presence of other people who have a gift, but there's not a motivational speaker. That's a shift. If you need a motivational speaker to get you fired up, to get you beat down, someone that you just follow and you hang on their every word. Yeah. You don't get that in microchurch. You just get the scriptures.
We open the scriptures, we talk them through. Now in my experience, the scriptures are way more motivating than someone like myself saying, here's something I thought you needed to hear today.
5. It's harder to skip.
It does create accountability. You can't just wake up and decide whether you're going to church today. We're planning how many people are showing up for a meal, and the expectation is we all show up. So if you're not going to, we try to communicate ahead of time. It's harder to skip. You can't just attend or not attend . It's a commitment.
Those are five reasons not to do microchurch instead of conventional church.
But I also realize these days many people who are full on believers have left church and they've left fellowship and they experience church by watching a show online with a motivational speaker. They listen to music that's been recorded and made available to them, and they're out of fellowship. And they open their scriptures every morning or whatever. They're in the faith, but they have no fellowship. And yeah, that's easier.
FIVE REASONS TO NOT DO MICROCHURCH INSTEAD OF NO CHURCH.
1. It takes devotion.
It does take devotion to do microchurch. It's a commitment. It'll call your bluff. It does take devotion.
2. It requires input.
It's a conversation. It's not just scrolling and liking and sharing memes and things. And it's not just reading something thoughtful and doing a prayer journal. I think those are beautiful things. But you show up and, not everyone always talks but, it does require input. You are there as one of six or eight or 10 or 12 people and you're supposed to bring something.
3. It creates faith friendships.
It creates faith relationships. Imagine taking the friendships that you have right now that are based in a common interest, and adding faith as not just a common interest, but a common goal and desire. It changes how you do relationship that way. And so, if that's not a good thing, don't do microchurch because it does create faith relationships.
4. It doesn't feel safe.
It's not always safe, it's just not. We do our best to create safe spaces and in my experience, I don't know of time that it hasn't been safe, in a true sense. But it doesn't always feel safe. You might be asked to share something. You might be asked, "What tension does this create for you?" And it might be different than something it creates for someone else. Or you might find yourself in a spot where you have to ask for prayer for something that feels vulnerable to you.
And of course, in our setting, we don't force anything unsafe. Of course not. Like we do it well. We do it wisely. But if you're looking for just the safety of a bubble wrap around you, where you don't get to know people and you have been hurt by fellowship and things like that, yeah, this won't feel safe to you. It is safe, but it doesn't feel safe.
5. It will challenge you.
It'll challenge you.
To open up the scriptures and go through them verse by verse, asking questions of the text, asking questions of the apostles who wrote them , seeking to understand where it even challenges your prior understanding, and to be in conversation with people who are seeking the same thing and doing it in a communal setting. It'll challenge you. All the above. For all the reasons why you shouldn't do microchurch, it will challenge you.
And so actually I would say those are 10 reasons why you should do microchurch. Those are 10 reasons to do microchurch.
I think those are good reasons to do it.
I believe it's better. That's not to say that conventional church is bad. I'm helping a church right now with conventional church, leading worship. And as I say, the heart of the believer wants to be wherever the believers are gathered, and so I don't care where that is. It can be a huge crowd. It can be a small crowd. My heart just wants to gather where believers are gathered.
And so there's nothing wrong with meeting in conventional settings, but I do believe this is better.
In the conventional setting, you go to "real church" and then, if you want, you can supplement that with a small group setting. The way we look at microchurch, that smaller setting is real church. And if you want, you can supplement that with a larger gathering.
So I actually do believe it is better for all the reasons why you shouldn't do it. All the things that make it hard. It is better. Such is the case with so many things in life, that it's the things that are worth it that are actually not always the easiest.
I also believe that we may one day have this as our only option. And if we do face persecution, which Jesus said we would, I believe the microchurch model — the network of microchurches where people are in close relationship with each other, and then with other people from other microchurches — that spread out network of microchurches, I think, will survive whatever the enemy would throw at it. And not just survive, but thrive. I believe it's better.
If you're interested in joining a microchurch, I'd love to talk to you. I'll put a link in the description below. Let's talk. Be encouraged. I believe that if you put yourself into this sort of a setting, you will grow in your faith. If you've found yourself disillusioned with church, this is what you've been looking for. It's what we were looking for.
So reach out, be encouraged. Even if there are 10 reasons why you shouldn't do microchurch, those are 10 reasons why you should do microchurch.
Part of my call is to strengthen and encourage anyone who's interested in this. And so reach out, please, wherever you live, reach out. Oh man, these are exciting times.