This is an excerpt from a comment I just made in response to a blog post at www.faithpreacher.blogspot.com in regards to what the purpose of the church really is and the benefit of small groups, and home churches. Most people if you mentioned you were involved in a "home church" would think you were W*E*I*R*D! So, here are my thoughts on this...
I see the importance of small groups that multiply, and meet (sometimes) in homes, instead of church buildings. That is exactly what Dr. Platt is trying to teach at Brookhills. A few weeks ago he said -- Don't invite the lost to 'come to church'. When you're with them, they are with THE CHURCH. You are the CHURCH! It's much more important that when the 4000 or so people leave that building that they take the CHURCH to be among the people.
We could meet so many more people (lost or not) and meet more needs if we would get back to the hospitatlity that the Word teaches. We (Christians in general and our family in particular) hardly ever have people in our homes anymore, unless we know them really well. That is certainly not how the early church worked, and lest we say that times are different now and that just isn't safe to do, we must remember that these people were eventually martyred! They weren't worried about their safety, or the fear that someone might see their stuff and come back later to take it when they weren't home! That is the greatest problem with reaching out only to those within our own "class" of people.
Interestingly enough, when Dr.Platt first came to Brookhills, I understand that they were trying to get a gymnasium built. (This was before we began visiting and joined, but others have told us about it.) He put a stop to that ASAP! He said that the only way he would go along with that was if they built it in Avondale (downtown B'ham) to minister to those who really needed a safe place to be. From what I understand, he has basically said there will be no more buildings built at Brookhills, not while he's there.
Our church works in conjunction with M-Power ministries (among others), M-Power works with women and children, and hopes to begin working with men soon as well. We have men and women from our church who do small groups there during the week to teach the Word and to invest in the lives of the people on the other side of "the mountain".
During the week, they serve about 150 children with a place to go after school for help with their homework focusing on literacy, provide a snack, and a medical clinic. They really love these kids and their parents. These are kids who would normally go home to an empty house, which is when they usually find trouble as they grow-up. They teach adult literacy classes as well and also help single moms with GED classes and job searching.
Anyway, we went with a group from BH to do work on the building back in August to get it ready for the kids - just before school started. As well, we (as a family) were able to provide new school supplies for some children that otherwise would not have any. Most of these children are in single-mom homes, on a more than tight budget. The work we did to the building was painting, organizing their supplies, etc... Todd did plumbing work. Our oldest (11 year old) went with us. We want her to learn early the importance of ministering to the needs of others. She also went with us on a trip to Lousianna about a year and a half or so ago to do work. She hasn't "gotten it" yet I don't think, but hopefully as the years go by she will begin to understand.
To me, that is the importance of the church. We need to have our resources freed up to meet REAL needs! The very idea that people would give up their hallowed week of vacation, to go on a mission trip in a third world country is too much for most people. What about Mickey Mouse, or the beach, or a cruise, etc...??? NO church needs more buildings for more programs to meet during the week. Brothers and Sisters, all that does is keep the believers so busy "doing church" that they can't BE the CHURCH!
Dr. Platt has really turned things upside down at our church. Shepherding so many of Birmingham's wealthy residents, he continues to challenge their thinking. We are not called to Christ to get "stuff" he always says, we come to Christ to get GOD! (Period!!) He has continually reminded us that our lives are not to be about the accumulation of stuff, about getting our kids name brand clothes, making sure they have the "right" friends (read that connections), buying them popular stuff, and sending them to the "right" college, so they can get the "right" job, and make lots of money. GROSS!! My goal with my children is that they learn through relationship with their dad and I who God is. <<>>
Lately Dr. Platt has been preaching on feeding the hungry, caring for widows and orphans, etc... and our responsible response to the gospel. (Jas 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
Quite honestly most people who are believers in America look for churches based on their percieved "needs" and what the church can do for them. That is so backwards, and yet they don't even realize it. Following Christ really isn't about being in "church" 3 x or more a week. That doesn't make you a good Christian, it only makes you busy. I can't tell you how many churches I've been in during my 38 years of life that have hammered that thought into it's members. You weren't a good Christian if you didn't come on Sunday night and/or Wednesday night. That is NOT what CHURCH is about. <<>>
Todd told me he'd heard this week that he (Dr. Platt) had put his home on the market to scale down and free up his own resources to be able to do more for the poor and the hungry, and that around 300 other families had followed his example. Hallelujah! May God be glorified in their desire to change their lives to meet the needs of others, and may God show US clearly what HE would have our family to do. Now, I'm not saying (and neither is Platt) that having nice things is evil, just that we should be careful where our focus is and be aware of what we are doing.
Okay, okay, I'm done!
God's blessings and wisdom to you and your's.
Abiding in His grace,