Let’s get the easy/hard stuff out of the way. I LOVE my denomination. Okay, I love a lot of denominations, but I love mine. I do not love it over the Church, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Back on the 19th of September, I quoted Ed Stetzer (on Google+ & Facebook) regarding his views on the house church and mega-church models.
…I think that the megachurch is a growing trend and the house church is also a growing trend– at the same time. For what it is worth, I am excited about both. God has used the megachurch to reach Korea and the house church to reach China. Let’s hold our models loosely and our Jesus firmly.
It was with great sadness that I read about Shaun King’s resignation from the Atlanta-based Courageous Church. It was an even heavier heart that I read his wife’s emotional response to the turmoil. I don’t know either Shaun or Rai King, but I can “hear” the breaking of their hearts. I also cannot help but feel that there was a tad bit of gloating over at Stories From the Revolutions: The Journal of the LK10 Community, but that really is an aside rather than the point. If Ed Stetzer is correct (and demographically, he probably is), what does that mean for a denomination like the Church of the Nazarene?
The Church of the Nazarene is a collection (in the United States, at least) of many churches, of many sizes. Most are not house churches (though, there are more every year, but still, not the fastest growing segment), nor are most mega-churches (though, we have a few of those, too). The Church of the Nazarene is primarily made up of churches with a population of 50 to 150. This range doesn’t fit into either “model”. As the demographics of the church head toward the “well-curve” of the house/mega-church extremes, where does a denomination that is more of a bell-curve fit?
It doesn’t. Ooops. I said it. We, the Church of the Nazarene, don’t fit.
I think I’m okay with that. No. I don’t think I’m okay with that, I am okay with that.
I don’t think the extreme of house/mega-church will last long, it really can’t. Neither one really fits American tendencies particularly well. They seem to, on the surface, but they have no particular balance. I could be wrong, but I do think the face of the American church will change…for the better. Mega-churches will have their mega-star pastors who hold their churches together by force of will or by almost in-human organizational skills (this, by the way, is a stereotype, and does not apply to all). House churches will rise and fall almost as much as breathing, especially as many (as shown far too often by history) will start to split/form based upon personalities and minor (and not-so minor) theological differences. Both seem (again, a stereotype) to be non-denominational either by intent or by nature, so there will often not be a larger body that can provide the balance that often seems to be needed to the local body.
For whatever reason, the Church of the Nazarene seems to live/survive/thrive between the extremes of house/mega-church. I strongly suspect that much of that is based upon our Holiness heritage. Much of what the mega-church seeks is a body driven to serve Christ in a huge way (at least in their words and mission statements). The Holy Spirit is the best driver of that, rather than human will and desire. The house church seeks/demands discipleship (rightfully so) of the body, but often seems to leave that to individual desire (not always bad), with little balance or boundaries (can lead to very bad things). The Holy Spirit brings those with open hearts to Christ to do His work in the world, shaping them more and more to be like Him. That is Holiness.
Once the dust settles, which it will, from the church-size wars, the Church of the Nazarene will still be here, preaching Holiness to His people who have been called and have answered, and preaching it to those called, but have yet to answer.