Answering Questions about our Church Family was written by Kieth Giles and offered to the Organic Church Page on Facebook, so I thought it extremely helpful to those asking questions. Folks, this is not a movement but the future of authentic Christianity.
Much love, Jose
“Someone asked me some questions today about our house church and since I’ve already taken the time to write up these answers, I thought I’d share them here, too.
If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to add your own.
Do you have a leadership team? Elder/Deacon board, or what?
No, nothing formal. However, we DO have people who function as elders and overseers/facilitators, we just don’t call them that or recognize these officially.
Why? Partly because we don’t want to create any artificial offices and create the impression that only a select few of us are authorized to serve in the Body. Everyone can serve without reservation or hesitation as God leads them.
What authority do you have over your church?
None, really. I mean, I suppose I do have influence, but not authority. In other words, I wouldn’t tell everyone, “This is what we’re doing now,” but I might make some suggestions and ask people to weigh in on the subject so we can decide what to do.
But everyone in the Body has that exact same opportunity.
Who makes the decisions?
We, the people, make most decisions together as led by the Holy Spirit. On some issues people have requested that Wendy and I handle some things because they trust our judgment when it comes to working with the poor, etc. However, we try to involve the entire Body whenever possible.
For example: We sometimes go to the Body to ask whether we should use collected funds to help someone that we know personally but not everyone in our Body knows as well.
We make sure that everyone knows that we are open to helping this person out of our own personal money and to allow Mission funds to be designated for other things.
We all talk openly, people ask questions about the situation, and the consensus among the Body is always desired.
I WOULD ADD: We are striving to allow the Body to make decisions collectively rather than assign a few among us to decide for everyone else. So far this has been wonderful and people appreciate being part of the process.
How do you handle church discipline?
Ah…here’s the real test of “leadership” in the Body, right?
We try to consider who the person would most likely accept/receive loving advice and correction from? This is always based on relationship, and the goal is always reconciliation and healing. It’s never about control.
I would also add that there have been a few other times when Wendy and I were not involved at all, but one brother would ask another brother out to coffee to inquire about the spiritual health and well-being of someone and to offer loving counsel and correction.
Those times are sweet and I love hearing about them after the fact.
How are your roles defined?
My role? I’ve intentionally worked very hard over the last 4 years to graduate myself from founding pastor of the Mission to one of the many active and contributing members of the Body. I am now officially one of the brothers in the Mission Family. Jesus is our Senior Pastor now. The rest of us are members of His Body.
How does your church handle finances, offering, tithes, etc.?
We’re a cash-only operation. We do not have a 501(c)3, and we do not have a church bank account. If people need to receive a tax break at the end of the year, we encourage them to give their money somewhere else.
However, if people do give to our house church, we guarantee that 100% of every single penny given will go directly to help the poor in our community – and sometimes even others in our own church family who are in need.
We have complete transparency with all funds received, and we give regular updates for how much is received, where it was spent, and how it impacted people.
As people begin to see their offerings being used to help actual people in need, their desire to give increases and they become ‘hilarious givers’ to the work of compassion.
Why don’t you have a non-profit status?
Several reasons. First, we don’t need the state of California to tell us that we’re an official church. God has lavished us with His love, and we have been called the children of God. That’s enough for us.
Second, since we do not use our funds to cover salaries, utilities, rent, etc., there is no benefit to us in receiving tax breaks. We do not operate as a business, so there’s no need to register ourselves, or run ourselves, like a business.
Who is your pastor?
Jesus is our pastor. It used to be me, but I finally realized that the only leader among us was Jesus and since it was His church anyway, it was time to surrender things back over to Him. He’s done a much better job than I have, anyway.
Who is your spiritual covering?
Jesus is our spiritual covering. We do not require the authority of any person or denomination to make us an official Body of Christ. Jesus is what makes us a Church, and we are covered by His blood and filled with His Spirit.
The concept of Spiritual Covering is not a NT concept. Covering is not required, but accountability is. I am accountable to everyone in our Body, and they are accountable to one another and to me. We are also accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ for our behavior and our witness of Christ in the community.
Who does the preaching?
No one does. We do not have sermons, or a pulpit. We do spend a lot of time in the Scriptures together. Anyone who is present in the meeting has the authority to open God’s Word, share an insight, give a testimony, or encourage the Body as God’s Spirit leads. Our fellowship is blessed to have a great number of gifted teachers, and once in a while one of them may bring us a study on a passage or a topic as God leads, but not every time, and not the same person every time.
Children, women, and men are all free to share from God’s Word with the rest of the Body and all are free to comment, agree, disagree, or continue the conversation as God leads.
Answering Questions about our Church Family
If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask below. I’d love to share what God is doing in our midst.”