August Ministry Update
Over the last year, I started a prayer gathering in my home town, modeled after the prayer time I experienced when I was with my friends in San Francisco in August of 2018. After praying together for eight months, we officially joined together as a house church. Nothing I have done in ministry over the past thirty years has brought me as much joy as our little gathering. The Holy Spirit is clearly moving. I am helping to oversee the church, but I am not the pastor. This was a strategic decision on my part. I help with oversight, but not in the day to day role of shepherding. I believe the role God has for me is to plant prayer gatherings, not to pastor house churches. My hope is to plant multiple prayer gatherings with the intention of seeing house churches planted as a result. I am interested in seeing people connect with the Holy Spirit through prayer. Out of that connection, God may lead to a house church. He may not. Either way, people will connect with God in intimate prayer gatherings. That is what matters most.
I know this sounds odd, but I am not interested in planting house churches for the sake of planting house churches. I am concerned that with the house church movement, we may merely create another model of ministry that does not rely upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead of relying on the work of the Holy Spirit through prayer, we may depend on our creativity. We may depend on good programming. We may depend on good branding. We may depend on good Bible teaching. We may depend on beautiful worship experiences. My concern is that if we do not solely depend upon the Holy Spirit, we have nothing that will last. Just as the traditional church model is struggling, so will the house church model if we do not build upon the right foundation. It will not last. Ultimately, my prayer is that both the traditional church model and the house church model would be built on a foundation of prayer. This remains to be seen.
This is why I am interested in planting prayer gatherings instead of planting house churches. Our local group gathered for weekly prayer for eight months before we talked about becoming a house church. As a result, our DNA is set. We pray. When we became a house church, our focus on prayer did not change. Prayer is the heartbeat of our gathering. Our DNA is that we pray and connect with God. Out of those prayer times, the Holy Spirit leads, and we follow him. Yes, we enjoy deep community with other followers of Christ. Yes, we enjoy deep fellowship with others seeking to live out their faith. Yes, we meet each other’s needs. Yes, we study the Scriptures to learn what it means to follow Jesus. But beneath it all is a dependence on the Holy Spirit through prayer. It is the one non-negotiable item when we gather together.
Typically, our house church meeting is unstructured compared with a traditional church service. Usually, we meet for three to four hours on a Sunday. We share a meal together. At some point in our gathering, we devote an hour or more to prayer, using the model I wrote about here: https://timothymark.com/teach-us-to-pray/ This is the heartbeat of what we are about – the richness and beauty of intimacy with God in prayer.
Our local house church is still an infant, but we are already developing leaders to establish house churches in two neighboring communities. We currently meet weekly on Sunday mornings. I love spending time with these folks. At a recent meeting, one of the members said, “I wish we could meet like this more often.” That made me smile.
Beyond my home area, I’m excited to see how God is opening up opportunities to model the prayer gathering in other regions. I am currently in the beginning stages of mentoring a prayer gathering in Southern Michigan. In September, I travel to Santa Cruz, Bolivia through the invitation of a friend there to establish a prayer gathering in that region.
God is also moving in Singapore. At a recent conference in New England, I met a man from the small island nation. We talked at length about what God is doing there. I was excited to hear story after story of how God is at work. After I returned home, I received an invitation to attend a Christian conference and meet with other Christian leaders there. I am excited to travel to Singapore on August 6. I will be there for two weeks. I am most interested to learn how God is at work there. I will also attend prayer gatherings with men who are meeting daily for prayer in a model similar to ours. I can hardly wait to see what God has planned for me there.
In all, these are exciting days. You may wonder what my plans are for the days ahead. The truth is, I have no idea. All I know is God is moving. I try to join him in what he is already doing. My plan is to pray and seek God’s direction one day at a time. My plan is to surrender in love to him. I think that’s a pretty good plan, don’t you?
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