House churches in the U.S. for the sake of missions -- a radical proposal

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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Originally Posted by Herald
Originally Posted by elnwood
If anyone else has creative ideas to support our missionaries who are constantly struggling with undersupport, I'd love to hear them.
Don, is this really what this thread is all about?
You'll have to be more forthcoming, Bill. I can't read your mind -- what are you implying that this thread is really about?

Don, was this thread all about missions support? By that, I mean, is your main motivation for this thread to suggest that by moving to house churches missionary support will increase?
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Originally Posted by Herald
Originally Posted by elnwood
If anyone else has creative ideas to support our missionaries who are constantly struggling with undersupport, I'd love to hear them.
Don, is this really what this thread is all about?
You'll have to be more forthcoming, Bill. I can't read your mind -- what are you implying that this thread is really about?

Don, was this thread all about missions support? By that, I mean, is your main motivation for this thread to suggest that by moving to house churches missionary support will increase?

Primarily missions support, but also other things that are often neglected: caring for the poor and needy, supporting pastors, etc. (I also mentioned these in the original post). The present church I am attending while I'm in the area is very small, but very self-sacrificial, has two bi-vocational pastors, and I believe they support as many missionaries as they have members. We worship in a converted home, but I wouldn't call it a "house church."

Again, I'm trying to read your tone, but I feel like you're implying that this is not my main motivation, and that I have some hidden motive for bringing this up. Is this the case? If so, are you able to be more forthright about it?
 

yourjewishbrother

Puritan Board Freshman
The church building plays an important roll in the community, I am a member of a church plant in Atlantic City NJ which focuses on racial reconciliation and mercy ministries and missions. Our church building is a big part of how we reach into the poor inner-city communities and spread the word of Christ, Missions does not have to be a journey overseas, all Christians at all times are on "missions" everywhere we go, and the church building should be the beacon of this mission in the community, you bring up a good point but i also think the church in America needs to start looking at how we define missions trips, I only have to travel 2 miles from my home to find kids with not enough to eat going to sleep to the sound of gunfire and do not know the peace and grace of God, our church building is the anchor of our missions to the city
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Originally Posted by Herald
Originally Posted by elnwood
If anyone else has creative ideas to support our missionaries who are constantly struggling with undersupport, I'd love to hear them.
Don, is this really what this thread is all about?
You'll have to be more forthcoming, Bill. I can't read your mind -- what are you implying that this thread is really about?

Don, was this thread all about missions support? By that, I mean, is your main motivation for this thread to suggest that by moving to house churches missionary support will increase?

Primarily missions support, but also other things that are often neglected: caring for the poor and needy, supporting pastors, etc. (I also mentioned these in the original post). The present church I am attending while I'm in the area is very small, but very self-sacrificial, has two bi-vocational pastors, and I believe they support as many missionaries as they have members. We worship in a converted home, but I wouldn't call it a "house church."

Again, I'm trying to read your tone, but I feel like you're implying that this is not my main motivation, and that I have some hidden motive for bringing this up. Is this the case? If so, are you able to be more forthright about it?

Don, I have no hidden motivation. I surmised your primary intent was to focus on missionary giving. I simply wanted to confirm that.

There is no empirical evidence to support the belief that total dollars given to missions will increase if the American church left traditional church buildings and adopted the house church model. Common sense would dictate that just the opposite would probably happen. You cannot expect a 1:1 correlation between traditional churches and house churches. What I mean by that is a church with 500 active members will not necessarily translate into 500 house church members. Imagine the chore a missionary would have trying to canvas as many house churches as possible to raise support. Instead of adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology, it would be better to labor within existing churches to increase sensitivity to missions.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Imagine the chore a missionary would have trying to canvas as many house churches as possible to raise support. Instead of adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology, it would be better to labor within existing churches to increase sensitivity to missions.
Bill, that shouldn’t be an issue if those house churches are linked with one another as a community or city wide association, with house church pastors working together to ordain, send out, and support in pray and financial means missionaries.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Imagine the chore a missionary would have trying to canvas as many house churches as possible to raise support. Instead of adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology, it would be better to labor within existing churches to increase sensitivity to missions.
Bill, that shouldn’t be an issue if those house churches are linked with one another as a community or city wide association, with house church pastors working together to ordain, send out, and support in pray and financial means missionaries.

David, it's no secret I'm a skeptic on the success of that type of set up. Theory is great....in theory.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Imagine the chore a missionary would have trying to canvas as many house churches as possible to raise support. Instead of adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology, it would be better to labor within existing churches to increase sensitivity to missions.
Bill, that shouldn’t be an issue if those house churches are linked with one another as a community or city wide association, with house church pastors working together to ordain, send out, and support in pray and financial means missionaries.

David, it's no secret I'm a skeptic on the success of that type of set up. Theory is great....in theory.
I am not supporting a house church model (for my own reasons), but we as Baptist actually formed associations, such as the Abington Association in 1652, for the purpose of training new ministers, church planting, and accountability. Now I don’t know this, but how much of the early particular Baptist worshiped together in a home? I do not have an historical answer, because I do not know. If you do then please share. But as we can see as evidence on this board, they did grow; therefore this is more then just theory, but instead something that much be reflected on with respect to both the NT context and our own baptistic historical context.

---------- Post added at 02:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:54 PM ----------

On a side note, there are plenty of Baptist churches that have building bought and paid for that are shrinking and dying. But this should not be seen as being reflected by a church owning a property. The reverse of the home church theory should be applied even in this context of growing and giving, but such growth and giving is not necessarily the case with churches with established buildings in a community.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
There is no empirical evidence to support the belief that total dollars given to missions will increase if the American church left traditional church buildings and adopted the house church model. Common sense would dictate that just the opposite would probably happen. You cannot expect a 1:1 correlation between traditional churches and house churches. What I mean by that is a church with 500 active members will not necessarily translate into 500 house church members. Imagine the chore a missionary would have trying to canvas as many house churches as possible to raise support. Instead of adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology, it would be better to labor within existing churches to increase sensitivity to missions.

In no way was I suggesting that moving to house churches would somehow make missions giving just automatically increase!

Ultimately, this type of "radical" sacrifice and giving will depend on the leaders in the church. If the elders of the church teach the importance of the Great Commission and the need to support those works, present their vision to move the church away from a burdensome and expensive property, and do this explicitly and specifically to move more funds toward missions, and model this type of sacrificial giving in their own lives, then I think it can and will happen. But it will not automatically happen. It does require purposefulness.

You'll have to explain what you mean by adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology. What have I suggested that you would consider quasi-emergent? I'm assuming you wouldn't call the NT churches meeting in homes "quasi-emergent."
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The church building plays an important roll in the community, I am a member of a church plant in Atlantic City NJ which focuses on racial reconciliation and mercy ministries and missions. Our church building is a big part of how we reach into the poor inner-city communities and spread the word of Christ, Missions does not have to be a journey overseas, all Christians at all times are on "missions" everywhere we go, and the church building should be the beacon of this mission in the community, you bring up a good point but i also think the church in America needs to start looking at how we define missions trips, I only have to travel 2 miles from my home to find kids with not enough to eat going to sleep to the sound of gunfire and do not know the peace and grace of God, our church building is the anchor of our missions to the city

Welcome to the PB!

Please fix your signature as per board rules. See the link to 'Signature Requirements' below my signature.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I'm assuming you wouldn't call the NT churches meeting in homes "quasi-emergent."

Meeting in homes out of necessity is not the same thing as meeting in homes by choice. Your repeated reference to the early church has little bearing in regards to what you propose.

That is not to say that all of us don't share your concern that too much is being spent on unnecessary things. Does a church really need a cafe? I don't think so. But i think it is unnecessary and dangerous to throw the baby out with the bath water.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Ultimately, this type of "radical" sacrifice and giving will depend on the leaders in the church. If the elders of the church teach the importance of the Great Commission and the need to support those works, present their vision to move the church away from a burdensome and expensive property, and do this explicitly and specifically to move more funds toward missions, and model this type of sacrificial giving in their own lives, then I think it can and will happen. But it will not automatically happen. It does require purposefulness.

Don, but why the need for this "purposefulness"? Why not work within existing churches to increase both the sensitivity and support of missions? It seems like moving towards a house church norm is the reinvention of the wheel which serves no useful purpose.

You'll have to explain what you mean by adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology.

There is a strong counter-culture house church movement that is either in league or sympathetic to emergent ideals. Decentralization of authority, disdain for orthodoxy, privatization of worship; these are not marks of a healthy church. I realize you are not advocating this sort of abuse, but this is where these things go. Under a strong control group a house church, or a group of house churches, may thrive. But given time, and the way movements have a tendency to go off trajectory, the house church movement will become an anarchism.

Don, you also have a dog in this hunt. You'll soon be candidating for support. As and elder in a church who has a very tight budget I know how frustrating it is to turn missionaries away. We have relatively low expenses in our church and have a high missions budget. We wouldn't have it any other way. But while missions support should be an important attribute of a local church, so is pastoral care. I know you would agree with that. To suggest a church divest its real estate holdings, in part, to increase missions giving may be putting the cart in front of the horse In my humble opinion. I still think the church is best served by being faithful stewards of whatever assets are entrusted to it. If that means re-evaluating expenses and trimming the fat, so be it.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ultimately, this type of "radical" sacrifice and giving will depend on the leaders in the church. If the elders of the church teach the importance of the Great Commission and the need to support those works, present their vision to move the church away from a burdensome and expensive property, and do this explicitly and specifically to move more funds toward missions, and model this type of sacrificial giving in their own lives, then I think it can and will happen. But it will not automatically happen. It does require purposefulness.

Don, but why the need for this "purposefulness"? Why not work within existing churches to increase both the sensitivity and support of missions?
I would be in agreement with Harold here, but perhaps for different reasons. If one is called to be a missionary to a foreign land then he should be called by his church to do so and then supported by his church with some help by the association. There should not be the call and the lack of financial support to go with that call from a particular church. Therefore I do have issues with the raising of support outside of the context of the local church in which the missionary in question is a member. If the missionary in question does not have the support that is needed then the fault lies not with him but with that local church and with that pastor, who should be doing exactly what Harold is promoting you to do.

There is a strong counter-culture house church movement that is either in league or sympathetic to emergent ideals. Decentralization of authority, disdain for orthodoxy, privatization of worship; these are not marks of a healthy church.
But these are all marks that we can see promoted and taught in Evangelical and Baptist churches today that have buildings, including in the SBC. I do not think it’s necessarily wise to call home churches as emergent, but instead to look at the foundational presuppositions that is being established for a home church instead of the giving of labels that may not be helpful. Like some home churches are FIC (not all), and they have authority issues, but not because they own or not own a building, but instead have boundary issues in regards to a minister and the minister role in someone’s family. Which I would say is a bigger issue then say the owning of a property for corporate worship. Perhaps, a home church could promote neighbors in a localized area to come by the house and at the same time build relationships with the Word of God being taught? Perhaps not. This is not an issue of reinventing the wheel, but considering how God has blessed the church and wisdom as stewards to use what the Lord God is given. If God has given a property to a church then it should be used for ministry, but at the same time the property should never, ever, be a burden on the church; for if it is then the elders need to reevaluate their priorities and come to a conclusion so that it is not. By the way, I am not only against churches being in debt, but also seminary students as well. The reason is so that we can be freer to serve God, his people, and proclaim the full council of God through the Scripture.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
They are necessary in oppressive governments, such as China.

Off topic, but I'm not sure that that is still true. I've talked to a couple of folks who have worked over there, and there do seem to be registered churches where the gospel is taught.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Ultimately, this type of "radical" sacrifice and giving will depend on the leaders in the church. If the elders of the church teach the importance of the Great Commission and the need to support those works, present their vision to move the church away from a burdensome and expensive property, and do this explicitly and specifically to move more funds toward missions, and model this type of sacrificial giving in their own lives, then I think it can and will happen. But it will not automatically happen. It does require purposefulness.

Don, but why the need for this "purposefulness"? Why not work within existing churches to increase both the sensitivity and support of missions?
I would be in agreement with Harold here, but perhaps for different reasons. If one is called to be a missionary to a foreign land then he should be called by his church to do so and then supported by his church with some help by the association. There should not be the call and the lack of financial support to go with that call from a particular church. Therefore I do have issues with the raising of support outside of the context of the local church in which the missionary in question is a member. If the missionary in question does not have the support that is needed then the fault lies not with him but with that local church and with that pastor, who should be doing exactly what Harold is promoting you to do.

There is a strong counter-culture house church movement that is either in league or sympathetic to emergent ideals. Decentralization of authority, disdain for orthodoxy, privatization of worship; these are not marks of a healthy church.
But these are all marks that we can see promoted and taught in Evangelical and Baptist churches today that have buildings, including in the SBC. I do not think it’s necessarily wise to call home churches as emergent, but instead to look at the foundational presuppositions that is being established for a home church instead of the giving of labels that may not be helpful. Like some home churches are FIC (not all), and they have authority issues, but not because they own or not own a building, but instead have boundary issues in regards to a minister and the minister role in someone’s family. Which I would say is a bigger issue then say the owning of a property for corporate worship. Perhaps, a home church could promote neighbors in a localized area to come by the house and at the same time build relationships with the Word of God being taught? Perhaps not. This is not an issue of reinventing the wheel, but considering how God has blessed the church and wisdom as stewards to use what the Lord God is given. If God has given a property to a church then it should be used for ministry, but at the same time the property should never, ever, be a burden on the church; for if it is then the elders need to reevaluate their priorities and come to a conclusion so that it is not. By the way, I am not only against churches being in debt, but also seminary students as well. The reason is so that we can be freer to serve God, his people, and proclaim the full council of God through the Scripture.


David,

You wrote:

If one is called to be a missionary to a foreign land then he should be called by his church to do so and then supported by his church with some help by the association. There should not be the call and the lack of financial support to go with that call from a particular church. Therefore I do have issues with the raising of support outside of the context of the local church in which the missionary in question is a member.

It is an extremely rare church that can cover 100% of a missionary's full support. Many small churches are good at raising up and mentoring missionaries, but some of them (most of them) cannot send the missionary alone.


I know a few churches that desired this, and several churches with strong convictions practically insisted that the missionary raise no support outside of their local assembly and that they, their sending church, needed to provide 100% of that support or else they (not the missionary but the sending church) would raise it on behalf of the missionary. Of the 3 churches with this conviction that I know of, every single missionary suffered needlessly for their church's needless conviction.

One such missionary tried to convince his home church to allow him to go and raise support on his own (with the sending church's approval), but the sending church said, "No, this is our job...we have the duty to raise your support for you." And this sounded commendable at first...but no one will work for you as hard as you will work for yourself and having a church committee which meets weekly to be in charge of your daily needs is a recipe for disaster.

Maybe this needs its own OP, but you seem to be saying that God will not call a person as a missionary without supplying the needs for that missionary, and that this means much be his own local church - but I have not seen this. I have seen many qualified people without the physical means to go.



A missionary is served better by a broader base of support so that the loss or split of any one church is not devastating.

also, yes, it is true that when a missionary begins to raise support, he becomes aware of just how wealthy US churches are and how misplaced many of their priorities are.

---------- Post added at 02:11 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:09 AM ----------

There is a strong counter-culture house church movement that is either in league or sympathetic to emergent ideals.


I have never yet met one of these ememergent house churches then, and I don't think emergent traits occur any more within house churches than with "regular" church buildings.

---------- Post added at 02:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:11 AM ----------

P.s. One way in which congregations can maximize the use and the stewardship of their buildings is to use folding chairs and use their sanctuary as a playground or basketball court or gathering area throughout the entire week (like a youth center or similar idea) during the week, so that the building is not merely used 3 or 4 times and for less than 10 hours out of every week, but could be used every day as a gathering place for believers. Or have books stocked at the building and have the doors open more than just on Sundays to allow members to come and sit quietly and read (like a church library).
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Pergamum, maybe you missed a couple of key words, “with some help by the association.” I did not say that 100% of the support must be done by the local church. However, I do think that the association must accept the calling of the missionary before the missionary is sent forth on behalf of the church and the church’s association. This is meant to protect the message and office of the missionary to establish churches in the Gospel in accordance to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Churches, like individual Christians, are not meant to stand alone; therefore help should be given, but not necessarily outside of one’s own committed association of churches or denomination. The call of additional support should not be by a missionary walking around asked for more money and partners, but instead should be done in my option by the missionary’s local church and association to bring in more additional funds when needed to assist the missionary in his work.

You do not and should not send yourself to the missionfield, but instead it is by the church sending out in accordance to the great commision of Christ. And the Lord will provide what is needed for his work to be done. To deny such is to deny the sovereignty in accordance to his ordained means to accomplish his purposes.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Pergamum, maybe you missed a couple of key words, “with some help by the association.” I did not say that 100% of the support must be done by the local church. However, I do think that the association must accept the calling of the missionary before the missionary is sent forth on behalf of the church and the church’s association. This is meant to protect the message and office of the missionary to establish churches in the Gospel in accordance to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Churches, like individual Christians, are not meant to stand alone; therefore help should be given, but not necessarily outside of one’s own committed association of churches or denomination. The call of additional support should not be by a missionary walking around asked for more money and partners, but instead should be done in my option by the missionary’s local church and association to bring in more additional funds when needed to assist the missionary in his work.

You do not and should not send yourself to the missionfield, but instead it is by the church sending out in accordance to the great commision of Christ. And the Lord will provide what is needed for his work to be done. To deny such is to deny the sovereignty in accordance to his ordained means to accomplish his purposes.

In real-life, most home/sending churches still provide a minority of support such that, rather than saying "with a little help by the association" most missionaries are funded by a broad network of churches with a minority of financial help from one's sending church.

The platitude of "The Lord will provide" is true, but doesn't give the full picture that 20% of missionaries (each sent and attested by local churches) drop out during support raising and about 1/4th of the missionaries I know serving on the field are in a state of constant under-support.

The sovereignty of God also encompasses the disobedience, and half-hearted lack of care and attention of many sending churches as they send out their missionaries.

---------- Post added at 03:31 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:27 AM ----------

The call of additional support should not be by a missionary walking around asked for more money and partners, but instead should be done in my option by the missionary’s local church and association to bring in more additional funds when needed to assist the missionary in his work.

This overly-strict viewpoint is what is responsibility for the chronic under-support of several men who I know (one of which had to come off the field for over 2 years because his home church just wasn't getting it done). A committee of many men who are not, themselves, impacted by a lack of support, will always be less diligent than a man needing to provide for his own family.

A better approach is for the home church to release the missionary to be free in arranging his own schedule and to be on hand to personally call and write letters of recommendation and correspond on the missionaries behalf, even as the missionary takes the lead in scheduling and setting his support-raising plans. Thus, the sendign church takes an active role, even as the individual missionary takes the lead (with the permission of the sending church).
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Ultimately, this type of "radical" sacrifice and giving will depend on the leaders in the church. If the elders of the church teach the importance of the Great Commission and the need to support those works, present their vision to move the church away from a burdensome and expensive property, and do this explicitly and specifically to move more funds toward missions, and model this type of sacrificial giving in their own lives, then I think it can and will happen. But it will not automatically happen. It does require purposefulness.

Don, but why the need for this "purposefulness"? Why not work within existing churches to increase both the sensitivity and support of missions? It seems like moving towards a house church norm is the reinvention of the wheel which serves no useful purpose.

Bill, I am working within existing churches to increase sensitivity and support for missions. I am also suggesting creative proposals that would help churches rethink their idea of church, be more conscious of missions, and seek to be more effective with their funds. It's not an either/or.

You'll have to explain what you mean by adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology.

There is a strong counter-culture house church movement that is either in league or sympathetic to emergent ideals. Decentralization of authority, disdain for orthodoxy, privatization of worship; these are not marks of a healthy church. I realize you are not advocating this sort of abuse, but this is where these things go. Under a strong control group a house church, or a group of house churches, may thrive. But given time, and the way movements have a tendency to go off trajectory, the house church movement will become an anarchism.

Perhaps that is a tendency, and one that we should be conscious of and avoid at all costs. Interestingly, those "tendencies" sound remarkably similar to Presbyterian critiques of Baptist ecclesiology, with its autonomous, congregational form of church government. Yet, I still believe that this is the most biblical form of church government, despite the potential for those tendencies.

Don, you also have a dog in this hunt. You'll soon be candidating for support. As and elder in a church who has a very tight budget I know how frustrating it is to turn missionaries away. We have relatively low expenses in our church and have a high missions budget. We wouldn't have it any other way. But while missions support should be an important attribute of a local church, so is pastoral care. I know you would agree with that. To suggest a church divest its real estate holdings, in part, to increase missions giving may be putting the cart in front of the horse In my humble opinion. I still think the church is best served by being faithful stewards of whatever assets are entrusted to it. If that means re-evaluating expenses and trimming the fat, so be it.

Bill, I appreciate these words. They show much pastoral wisdom and insight.

As for me having a dog in this hunt, I don't feel like this is something personal to me. I don't anticipate any major hindrances to going overseas. My church is fully supportive, with over 20% of the budget going to missions, and about 10% of the membership serving overseas. For the record, I don't think my church should sell their building. We are using our facility well, and we're doing just fine as far as supporting our missionaries financially. When we've had to cut back on our budget, missions never gets cut, and our pastors have demonstrated self-sacrifice in refusing paychecks when giving is low rather than cutting other things.

In any case, we are all Christians who belong to the church, and the church is charged with carrying out the Great Commission. We ALL have a dog in this hunt!
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Perg, this difference I think should be further explored in another thread, not necessarily here, because it getting off topic.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I am saying that the priority of the church is making disciples ... if a church can cut major costs regarding a building and allocate that toward missions, this is better overall for the priority of the church.

I'm not so sure this is the historically reformed position. The church is "for the gathering and perfecting of the saints." It equips us to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If you have to choose one priority, it is worship. Expand to the traditionally held marks of the true church: the administration of the sacraments, the discipline of the saints, and the proper preaching of God's word, and you get the idea of missions as part of the work of the church.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
I am saying that the priority of the church is making disciples ... if a church can cut major costs regarding a building and allocate that toward missions, this is better overall for the priority of the church.

I'm not so sure this is the historically reformed position. The church is "for the gathering and perfecting of the saints." It equips us to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If you have to choose one priority, it is worship. Expand to the traditionally held marks of the true church: the administration of the sacraments, the discipline of the saints, and the proper preaching of God's word, and you get the idea of missions as part of the work of the church.

The "gathering and perfecting of the saints" is for all of the elect, and so the gospel must go out to the elect who have not yet heard the gospel. Rev. 5:9-10 says that Jesus' blood was given for people from every tribe and language and people and nation. If we take Limited Atonement seriously, it means that we need to go out to every tribe, language, people and nation and gather the elect from all of them.

Preaching IS evangelism. If you look up "preach" in the New Testament, in every (or nearly every) case, it is sharing the gospel with people who do not know the gospel.

Also, many of the Reformers did not have their missiology as developed as it should have been. Many thought that the Great Commission was fulfilled in the first century.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think it's rather hard to discuss this outside of a specific situation. Other than to say that yes, churches should keep a close eye on their financial priorities.

My church has its own building and spends $0 on said building. (Other than, you know, electricity.) Healthcare insurance reform would be the thing that could increase our church's missions spending the most...anyone want to discuss that? :lol:
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Originally Posted by Herald
Originally Posted by elnwood
If anyone else has creative ideas to support our missionaries who are constantly struggling with undersupport, I'd love to hear them.
Don, is this really what this thread is all about?
You'll have to be more forthcoming, Bill. I can't read your mind -- what are you implying that this thread is really about?

Don, was this thread all about missions support? By that, I mean, is your main motivation for this thread to suggest that by moving to house churches missionary support will increase?

Primarily missions support, but also other things that are often neglected: caring for the poor and needy, supporting pastors, etc. (I also mentioned these in the original post). The present church I am attending while I'm in the area is very small, but very self-sacrificial, has two bi-vocational pastors, and I believe they support as many missionaries as they have members. We worship in a converted home, but I wouldn't call it a "house church."

Again, I'm trying to read your tone, but I feel like you're implying that this is not my main motivation, and that I have some hidden motive for bringing this up. Is this the case? If so, are you able to be more forthright about it?

Don, I have no hidden motivation. I surmised your primary intent was to focus on missionary giving. I simply wanted to confirm that.

There is no empirical evidence to support the belief that total dollars given to missions will increase if the American church left traditional church buildings and adopted the house church model. Common sense would dictate that just the opposite would probably happen. You cannot expect a 1:1 correlation between traditional churches and house churches. What I mean by that is a church with 500 active members will not necessarily translate into 500 house church members. Imagine the chore a missionary would have trying to canvas as many house churches as possible to raise support. Instead of adopting a quasi-emergent approach to ecclesiology, it would be better to labor within existing churches to increase sensitivity to missions.

The house churches that did support me seemed to give at a disproportionately high rate, and also seemed to work harder at recommending me to their friends. One elder remarked, "We can give you more because we don't have to bother with a building fund."

Granted, this is not empirical proof and only represents a couple of churches (one of which folded last year). But I do think Don's main point is valid - if we simplify, then we can prioritize more outreach with money that would otherwise be eaten by a building. I also know several churches that possess very, very (purposely) plain buildings - no frills churches- and these have adopted an ethic of profound simplicity in order to prioritize outreach funding. No pews, old carpet, no weekly bulletins, and these have also given much towards outreach.
 
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