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Word Time in the House Church PDF Print Write e-mail
Monday, 02 June 2008 16:27
bible-study-group.jpgThe house church context provides a unique environment for the study and application of God’s Word. When you have 10-20 individuals gathered in close proximity, it is different than speaking to 1000 people in an auditorium or even 40 people in a classroom. The house church gives a great opportunity for people to ask questions, to develop their understanding in a group, to share what the Holy Spirit is saying to them, and to develop points of application in community.
In the context of the house church setting we do not want to be the “Sage upon the stage but the Guide along the side.” As such, we have the following guidelines for those who lead the “Word Time” in the House Gathering setting.

Our Goals:

  1. Life Transformation The target of our time in the Word is not just to grow in knowledge but to change lives. Knowledge is a beginning step…it must move on to understanding, motivation, and obedience. If what we are studying does not lead to application in our personal lives, we have missed the target. As we apply and obey the Word, we are transformed by the Spirit into the image of Jesus. The content of the study, then, is always the servant of application and obedience. Jesus told us to “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.”
  2. Growing Self-Feeding Followers of Jesus From early on, we want believers to be able to go to the Word, have the Spirit speak to them, and be able to feed themselves. Too often believers have relied upon others to feed them. Too often those who have been fed learn to stay in a dependent state for much of their spiritual lives. Jesus said in John 14:25-27, But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. We seek to grow followers of Jesus who can go to His Word and by the work of the Spirit receive spiritual food for growth. Our time in the Word in our House Gatherings then, will emphasize everyone getting into the Word, hearing from God, obeying what we hear, and contributing corporately together.

Our Philosophy:

  1. It is Bible Based: Whereas there are many great books out there written by people, our Word Time is focused on the Bible. The majority of time we will focus on a passage of scripture that is a part of a book study or the controlling text of a topical study. In topical studies we want to avoid jumping around to scores of individual verses. Some studies might need to be that way but that is not to be normative for our gatherings.
  2. It is Simple and Reproducible: We see ourselves starting new groups with new believers. These new believers will be trained in a “Word-Time” method that can be easily applied thereby avoiding dependency. If we modeled a method that required seminary-trained leaders, everyone would likely stay in a dependent mode. That means we will de-emphasize the preaching/teaching model for our House Gatherings and lean on an interactive, application oriented, corporate study of the Word. We want to initiate the process of “divine discovery together.”Again we are more interested in people obeying the truth they are hearing than having 10,000 bits of new information crammed into their heads!
  3. It is Relevant: The Word of God is relevant. It speaks to all cultures and all people throughout all of time. That means a big part of our Word Time will be discussing and applying biblical truths. Word Time must touch our heart, lives, relationships, identities, our failures, our sins, our purposes, our struggles, our missions, and our humanity
  4. It is Engaging: Very few of us can hold an audience and keep them engaged for very long. That means we do not see our Word Time as one person doing all the talking. The role of the leader is to open the Word, have it read, and then lead the group in discovery and exploration arriving at a point of personal application. They must study the Scripture first, let it raise provocative and relevant questions, and then guide the group into interacting with the Bible. For the teachers and preachers among us, we must put aside our biases and preferences for the good of the group. Our preachers and teachers will need to find other venues outside of the House Gathering setting to express those gifts. We envision times during our Celebrations, retreats, trainings, and workshops where the teaching/preaching gifts will be more employed.

Our Methodology

Some are rightly concerned that it is important for people to know how to interpret Scripture in context. Some texts are fairly straight forward and directly apply…others will take a little more explanation of the context. One of the best ways to teach people how to do that is to practice it corporately in our House Gatherings. Some basic questions that those who are leading the Word Time should ask include the following:

1. What does the passage say?
* What happened?
* What is being said about God…people?
* Is there anything in this text that seems odd to us today?
* What questions does this passage raise that you want to explore?
2. How was this understood by people in its original context?
* Is there any background information we need to know to help understand? (This is where the leader can do some background study and act as a resource.)
* What was going on when this passage was first written?
* Are there any events leading up to this passage that help us understand it?
3. What are the truths to learn, principles to apply, commands to obey, examples to follow, or promises to claim that apply to us today?
* How does this impact your relationship with God?
* How does this impact your relationships with others?
* How does this change the way you see your own identity?
* What area of your life is being challenged here?
* What is the Holy Spirit showing you about this passage?
* Where are you struggling as it relates to this passage?
* How does this impact God’s mission and call in your life?
* How would you live differently as a result of this passage?
4. What do I need to apply, obey, confess and repent, or put into action as a result of this study?

Our goal is to make followers of Jesus like Jesus. We thank God for gifted teachers and preachers but we also recognize that growth and transformation must go beyond information. What a unique setting we have in our House Gatherings to move towards teaching techniques that lead to application and obedience. The House Church model provides a unique setting where each member helps others to learn how to read, study, come to the Word, ask questions, and hear from the Holy Spirit. The House Church model provides a unique setting where Word-Time can be reproduced and multiplied in thousands of homes.

David Gschwend




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