Someone asked me recently how I define a micro-church. I think this has yet to be determined and defined, but there are some basics attributes of what makes a healthy micro-church that shouldn’t be too difficult for us to understand.
First off, it’s probably a good thing to ask ourselves how do we define “church”, before we can dive into what makes up a micro-church. After all, we are borrowing a term that has been used for centuries to mean one thing and we’re adding to it one of the most emblematic terms, symbolic of the technology revolutions (micro). I didn’t hear anyone talk about micro-churches until just recently Lance Wallnau actually did talk about this trend in one of this Facebook video chats. In fact, I wrote to Lance to thank him and let him know that as an early adopter I got so excited about what the Lord began to show me already 4 years ago, that I purchased the domain www.microchurch.us! Lance brought some very needed affirmation to those of us who have seen this wave rising across the world.
So what’s the main idea with micro-churches?
The whole idea here is to marry (in the right way), something ancient to something modern and come up with a working model of a functional vehicle for Christian life in a community that represents adequately the Body of Christ. Actually, the task of defining “church” might be a lot more challenging than defining “micro-church” in and of itself. In fact, if we take a good, long, fresh look at what “church” really means, based on the teachings of Jesus, the apostles and early Christians, defining “micro-church” might simply boil down to describing the mechanics of how to do micro-church, rather than get too dogmatic about defining it.
However, since the task of defining (or redefining) the very word and concept of “church” as it has been known traditionally in Christendom, is quite a daunting and challenging endeavour, I’ll skip it for now and will jump right into the micro-church idea as a stand alone concept.
The way I see it after much prayer, research and observation can be summed up this way: *a micro-church is a small, sustainable body of believers, which allows for the healthy development of a believer from the point of coming to faith in Christ, all the way to releasing people in who they are meant to be as a whole person, spiritual and natural giftings working together towards and life of peace, joy and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.”
I’ll try to break this down to its most essential attributes:
- Small: possibly anywhere between 5 on the low end, all the way to 15 members, which might be pushing it.
- Sustainable: being able to stand on its own feet, not critically dependent on the “mother ship”.
- Healthy development: the leadership and the people understand the process and are aware of the pitfalls and the possibilities. People choose to go through the process and pursue desired personal and body-life outcomes. Boundaries are well accepted and honoured. Warmth, empathy, and common sense carry the group through the tough seasons in this sustained effort.
- Releasing: leaders understand the lifecycle of discipleship, how people work, how life circumstances play out and what role spiritual gifts play in it all. Activation is key to avoiding stagnation and thus preventing the religious spirit from gaining a foothold.
- Guidance: the process of oversight and ongoing equipping. The leader of a micro-church is someone who has a clear understanding of the spiritual authority God has given them, what this means, who they are accountable to and what larger context they are part of and why.
Ideally, micro-churches will get planted or adopted by an “Antioch” type of a local or regional apostolic team (the apostolate), which will usually be made up of the three leading gifts listed by Paul in 1 Cor. 12:28
“…God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers..”
The apostolic team, identifies (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit), the right overseer/leader for a specific area. This future overseer of a micro-church must be trained and nurtured to a place of activation. The apostolic team is part of the initial effort of planting a micro-church or adopting it and bringing oversight to it. The next phase is development, growth and potentially the micro-church branching out into other areas.
One apostolic team might serve in a city or in a rural area where tens or even hundreds of churches are part of its conglomerate. Periodically the micro-churches come together as one body to share their testimonies, to get “baptized” into the spirit of unity and receive inspiration for tomorrow. These can be monthly or bi-monthly gatherings, or whatever the leadership and the people deem feasible based on their local context, culture, and preference.
The structure is kept light and straightforward. No need for permanent, excessive buildings and big staffs. Most resources: people (time, energy and expertise) as well as money, are being poured into helping or developing people, not building projects or programs.
There are definite differences between the micro-church concept as compared to house churches and cell churches. These differences will be discussed in future posts at length.
PS: To lighten things up a bit, check out this funny (and well produced) video by RightNowMedia.org 🙂
And the sequel of course 🙂
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