The following is a letter by Jay Ferris. It is in response to someone asking about a “membership agreement” for his house church. Whether you agree or don’t agree with Jay’s response, hopefully it will provide challenging food for thought for anyone who may be have this same question, or will be, about their own gathering.
Question: Is it ever necessary to have an agreement within a single house church, for people wanting to join?
J.F.: Probably not. I know it wasn’t necessary to get my children to sign one in the old creation use of my house. Seems like that might be worth thinking about for the new creation use of my house as well. What I have found is that there is a tendency of the living room itself to become Lord of relationship, even with our saying or putting anything in writing. People get in a place or a room together, Jesus shows up and we just assume that we belong to each other. That’s the problem with appearances. The Matthew 22 wedding guest probably thought that he belonged just because he was in the room in time for the “wedding feast.” The next thing you know, he’s out on his ear. Talk about “whip lash.” The building isn’t Lord; the property deed isn’t Lord; the 501k isn’t Lord; the living room isn’t Lord; the “group” isn’t Lord; human covenant isn’t Lord; what we did, and who was there last week isn’t Lord; the names we choose to call ourselves, they aren’t Lord. I could go on, but I learned that it’s faster and easier just to say that “Jesus is Lord!”
Question: If not, why not?
J.F.: In practice, even where 2 or 3 come together in His Name, these people are likely to be in relationships that transcend that gathering. These other relationships aren’t present, or recognized yet, and so it is very easy for those who see after the flesh to think that those who are in the gathering are “it.” When in fact some of those who are there might even be thrown out when the King shows up. No amount of paper work is going to be able to fix that. God has no regard for our paper work. True worship is agreeing with God about our gatherings, and our relationships. God has no use for the work of our hands. He doesn’t need it. It only causes trouble. It is misleading! Don’t go there! Jesus only asks us to “Love one another.” He prayed and died for that to happen. That’s the first, last, and middle thing for us to do. Not with the pre-cross kind of love, however. That kind goes away when iniquity abounds. (I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the mystery of iniquity is already at work, and been at work for some time now. You can tell by the lovelessness of those who claim to love Jesus. How about, “let’s choose love,” and leave the driving to Jesus. He is the only One who knows where we are going, and how to negotiate all the obstacles and turns.)
QUESTION: And if so, when there are multiple house churches in relationship to each other, should there be a common statement between them?
J.F.: Kind of like a neighborhood association? Those are really good if you want to keep undesirables out who ruin property values. You know, the kind of people that Jesus gathered around Himself.
QUESTION: In these statements, people would know what is expected of them and what they can expect from others.
J.F.: Now there’s a “covenant” for you. Wouldn’t you think God would have thought of that. Oh …wait, He already did. Sorry, it’s obsolete, and already fading away. Some things really do die hard!
QUESTION: …That way, they can decide if the Lord wants them to be involved with that network or not.
J.F.: Nice! :-/ Kind of puts “human decision and husband’s will” back in the picture. Yeah, that’ll work…. Not!
Snake oil has been out on the market for a long time now, even from the beginning. Even, “God knows in the day you eat/drink you will really be somebody…” Help us Lord!
There is another way. It’s a better way! It turns out to be Jesus! “He is the way, the truth and the life…” No need for a foot note here, just eyes to see, and hearing that understands.
Yours in Christ,