Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Jesus Hospital...

Lots of people start house church with noble visions of a well trained, fully functioning team of elders. There's at least one elder in each five fold ministry gift and everyone is working together to reach their city, neighborhood by neighborhood for Christ. Everyone shares their lives, their food, their wealth, their hearts with everyone else. Church, "first century style."

Well. Yeah. I mean that's the idea.

For now, we seem to be a hospital. Since we began, God has brought us people who need a Jesus hospital, a place where deep wounds and horrific trauma can be healed.

Last fall we sheltered and ministered to a woman and her children who had suffered unspeakable pain. A lot of healing was done in this single parent family before they returned to their home and a restored marriage. This fall, we have a family who, betrayed by those dearest to them, are gathering with us. They're learning to hear God's voice for themselves, that following Christ will cost you something but the reward is everything, that God, who is for them and not against them, is and will always take care of matter what lies rage against them.

How has this family grown us?

At one point, our new family was in deep trouble, in true despair. To my astonishment, my husband took off in the car and headed for their house...did he lay hands on him? No. Did prophesy to him? No. Did he lead him in worship? No. He was just there for him. They didn't even get really "spiritual" but it meant a lot to them. Later that evening they came to the meeting (just us and them over dinner and scripture) and were ministered to. I can remember a time when my husband, somewhat reclusive, would never have done that...major growth there.

I see more now than ever how important it is to train people to know God for themselves. I tried to "help" this family in a situation and it seemed the right thing to do since it was within my ability to do so...but it didn't work. We tried to call a special prayer meeting but we all "flaked out." I was pretty bummed and scratching my head but the result of our failed attempts was that God performed a miracle on their behalf and not a one of us could take any credit. It wasn't because of my efforts to pull a few strings. It wasn't because we called an emergency prayer meeting and cried out passionately to God. No. This was the result of their prayers. When God answered their prayers, He proved Himself to them and their faith skyrocketed! An elder is not a mediator or a "Moses on the mountain" elder is more like a coach who teaches them how to play the game but its up to the player to play the game and live with the score. I'm not the mediator...that's Jesus. I'm just coaching here.

A successful ministry isn't about the number of people who's about the quality of your fruit. Rather than have a house full of people who say they love God but aren't following Him, I'd rather have a handful of people who are being transformed because they're knowing Him more each day. I'm determined to be patient with what God is doing in us and not despise small beginnings.

We're learning that discipleship isn't a class you teach once a week or a program. It's being a friend. It's feeling their sadness, their pain...and yes their joy on the other side of it. Discipleship is about living God's Word with other people, not just in front of them as a distant example.

It seems almost surreal to realize that Christ has been like a surgeon and we've been the tools; the gifts of the Holy Spirit within us have been like prescribed medicine...and one day, we know they'll leave our Jesus hospital, start a one where they move and keep the Gospel going. I can't wait to see how it turns out!