Mission: Out of the Building and into the Home

Much of the Kingdom activity of Jesus and the early church was centered around homes.

Home: An Outpost for Mission

Home: An Outpost for Mission

Jesus – Mark 1:29-35, Mt 8:14, Lk 4:38, Matthew 9:9-12, 13:1-52, 17:24-27, 26:1-13, Mark 2:1-11, 7:17-23, 9:1-28, 33-50, 10:10, 14:3, Luke 7:36-39, 8:41-56, 10:38, 14:1-24.

Early Church – Acts 2:2, 46, 5:42, 8:3, 9:11-19, 10:1-8, 16:40, 18:1-10, 20:20, 21:8, 30, Col 4:15, Philemon 2, Romans 16:5 “Greet Prisca and Aquila and the church that meets in their house.”

Did their activity center around homes because there were no religious buildings to use?  Obviously not because there were synagogues and public buildings all around Jesus, Paul, and the early church and they used them.  I think one important reason homes were frequently used had to do with the nature of God and what He is building, a family.

The accounts of Jesus sending the twelve and the seventy to labor in the harvest (Luke 9-10 and Matthew 9-11) presents amazing instruction and context of how God wants us to engage in mission as we are sent.   On phrase that expresses this  is “God’s Family together on mission.”  It is God’s family on earth, connected with His family in heaven (Father, Son, Spirit Jn 17:21-23), sent on His mission in the earth.

If we look at Mt 9-11 and Luke 9-10 we see an amazing family relational context.  He sent them out “in pairs”  with a fellow family member.  The rest of the family would join them later.

Luk 9:4  “Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city...10:1-10 Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself (He and the others)  was going to come....(5)  “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’  (6)  “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.  (7)  “Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house…eat what is set before you;  (9)  and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you. (Matthew 10:11…stay there until you depart).

He tells them to look for houses with people who were receptive. If found they were to enter into that home (not moving from house to house), eat what is set before them, serve and bring blessing, and base their Kingdom missional work there.

Homes Represented Households

See Our Homes as Missional Tools

See Our Homes as Missional Tools

Why does He tell them not to move from house to house?  One reason has to do with developing a sense of family and relationships.  A house represents more than just a physical structure.  Homes are usually connected to relational circles of life.  This is what the Bible calls a “household.” It was friends, family members, and associates.  By entering into a home they were really entering into a web of relationships.   We see an example of this with Peter entering into Cornelius’ house and impacting his whole household  Act 11:12-14  “…he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’

Most statistics regarding evangelism reveals that the majority of people hear the gospel and receive Jesus through a close friend or relative.  When one person gets saved they instinctively begin to share it with their family and close friends (household).  Often when one person finds Christ it like pulling a loose string on a sweater.  You don’t always know where it will stop.  The influence on one person will tend to spread through their household.

Spirituality of Eating

This home based emphasis also lies behind His instruction to “eat what is set before you.”  Some have a hard time seeing food as being relevant or connected to Kingdom activity.  When you visit other cultures food creates a hospitable and relational atmosphere.  In almost every culture if someone offers you food they are generally offering friendship and relationship. If you reject food you are doing far more than saying you don’t want to eat. You are rejecting the opening of relationships.

In the Gospels you see a lot of Jesus’ activity around dinner tables.  His mission strategy often included a long meal stretching into the evening. He often did teaching, evangelism, and discipleship around a table.  In most of Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either on His way to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.  In fact Jesus did so much around meals that it caused His detractors to accuse Him of being a glutton Luke 7:34.

  • Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
  • Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.
  • Luke 9 Jesus feeds the five thousand.
  • Luke 10 Jesus eats in the home of Martha and Mary.
  • Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law at a meal.
  • Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals rather than their friends.
  • Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus.
  • Luke 22 Account of the Last Supper.
  • Luke 24  The risen Christ has a meal with the two disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem.

As God’s family together on mission we need to connect with people in the context of homes and households.  Biblical hospitality is a key (Rom 12:13, 1 Tim 5:10, Heb 13:2). When we invite people to enter into our homes it is often a step towards entering into their households.   Lets get out of the pews/buildings and into the mission field of homes.

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The Blessing of God’s Family Together on God’s Mission

Family on missionI just received a great message from our friend Harold Forbis.  His family was recently sent out from Bread of Life Church in Fresno to help a church in another city (see post http://c2cfamily.org/2015/12/missions/expansion-in-fresno/).  He preached a message in the new church in which he showed pictures of the spiritual family he was sent from and joined to (Bread of Life, C2C, and the Salt and Light Family).  He was revealing his spiritual family in the new place that was central to the vision he carries.  As I read his message there was a great sense of something God has put deep in all our hearts which is expressed in our motto, “God’s family together on God’s mission.”

Jesus’ example (Mt 9-11, Lk 9-10)

When Jesus walked on this earth He was the “fullness of the Godhead in bodily form” (Col 2:9).  He demonstrated what God was like and showed us patterns of how He intended His people to operate as He began to build His church (Mt 16:16-18).  One thing He clearly did was join people together in family relationships as they engaged in His mission to the world. 

In Matthew 9-11 and Luke 9-10 we see examples of how He sent out the twelve and the seventy (those He joined and walked with) on mission.  They went out “in pairs” to work in receptive places and He with the others would eventually join them in their mission. The church continued to operate this way throughout the NT.

We see references to these types of family missional relationships with Paul and others. They used strong family connection words to describe those they were joined with in mission,  “fellow worker/fellow soldier/partner/beloved son/beloved brother.”

Rom 16:9  Urbanus our fellow worker,  Stachys my beloved,  21  Timothy my fellow worker, Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen, 1Co 3:6-9 we (Apollos, Cephasare) God’s fellow workers, Rom 16:3  Prisca, Aquila my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 2Co 8:23  Titus my partner and fellow worker among you, Php 2:25 send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, 1Th 3:2 we (Paul and Silvanus) sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker, Phm 1:1-2 Timothy our brother, Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, 22-24 Epaphras my fellow prisoner,  2Ti 1:2 Timothy my beloved son, Php 4:1-3 true companion Clement (Euodia, Syntyche) and the rest of my fellow workers, Col 4:7-11  Tychicus our beloved brother and faithful servant, Onesimus our faithful and beloved brother, Aristarchus my fellow prisoner, Justus fellow workers, Phm 1:1  Timothy our brother, Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, Col 1:7  Epaphras, our beloved,  fellow bond-servant, fellow prisoner, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers, 3Jn 1:8  (2 unnamed brethren),  fellow workers with the truth; 2Pe 3:15  our beloved brother Paul.

 A wonderful example

It is a great thing when we see these types of missional ventures in a family context.   I was once involved in a church service in which a young couple was being sent to another geographic location.   It was a tremendous event in which the entire church family celebrated with great joy and faith.  There was a note of sadness at the departure, but it was swallowed up with the joy knowing the rest of them would be able to participate at various levels in the future.  It echoed what Isaiah mentioned in 55:12  “For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace. 

The whole church family laid hands on them and there was a great sense of corporate faith as they were all participating in the sending.  One of their own was being sent out by God and they would be working together with them in the future.  As I witnessed it I had my own fond memories of my sending many years earlier.  I also had memories of others who were sent out by God with a church family continually involved in the mission.

My mind filled with stories of people walking in mission together over the years.  There were celebrated victories as well as encouragement and comfort that came when facing challenges.  There were experiences like those that happened with Jesus and the seventy as they connected back with the family and gave reports of the great things God had done.  Luk 10:17 NASB  The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

A contrast in the same service

After the service, I encountered a stark contrast to what I had just witnessed.  I was Family missionintroduced to a young girl who had connected to that church for a while.  As we exchanging “get to know you” stories she made an unusual announcement in front of others who had been walking with her.   She said she was moving to another town shortly and was getting engaged.  It was like a small hand grenade had gone off in the group.  There was a shock on the faces of those close to her.  Apparently no one knew anything about it.

The people recovered from the initial surprise and found out more details.  As we continued the conversation it became clear that the young girl was stepping into something that even she acknowledged “may not be right” but was going forward with her plans anyway.

What a contrast in the same service!  One family was being sent out with the faith, blessing, and involvement of a whole congregation and another one was leaving on her own without any sense of future mission together.

Over the years in many places I have seen similar types of departures.  Some were motivated by unresolved conflict (unforgiveness, bitterness, and sin) while others had little vision for “Gods family together on mission.”

May we see more family missional ventures among His people that were like those of Paul, Barnabbas, Timothy, and Titus etc.  They went out together, stayed connected, and there was a great sense of family together on God’s mission.  The ongoing connection brings great encouragement in the new places as well as the places they were sent from,  just like we saw with the church in Antioch.

Acts 13:3-4  Then, when they (the church family) had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away…14:26-28  they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended…(27)  When they had arrived (back at Antioch) and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles

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Invasion of the (relational) Body Snatchers

invasion-of-the-body-snatchers1Jesus declared that all of God’s life is tied up in two aspects of relationships, “loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength” and in similar way “love your neighbor as yourself.”  He said “all the law, prophets, commandments, and life revolve around these two things” (Mt 22:37-38  Deu 6:5, Deu 10:12, Deu 30:6; Mar 12:29-31, Mar 12:33; Luk 10:26-28).  It is kind of like two sides of a God’s relational coin, both are connected and essential.

Consequently the enemy always seeks to disrupt these two things in order to take us captive and lead us away from God’s life.  Most of the critical problems that individuals and churches face are not so much theological or circumstantial, but relational.  The underlying relational element in most of them follows a similar path.  People become offended, are unwilling to forgive, bitterness begins to infect them, the enemy torments them, then those relationships and many others become defiled (polluted and destroyed). Hebrews 12:14-15  Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  (15)  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.

I remember an old movie that was made in the 50s and remade in 1978 called “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”  Both plots revolved around people discovering  that the population of the earth was being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.   The people that were “snatched” looked the same on the outside but their insides were different. They were frozen emotionally and unable to respond normally to people they knew.  For those who knew them before it was awkward to see them because they knew something was different. The outside was the same but the inside was different! 

This is what happens on a relational level among God’s people who have been captured by offenses, unforgiveness, and bitterness. What used to be warm heartfelt relationships become like the movie “frozen emotionally and not able to respond normally.”  

It will get worse in the last days

Those us who have been alive for several decades have seen the tremendous relational breakdowns as our culture has drifted further from God and His covenant ways.  Failed marriages, broken families, fatherless children, and relational confusion is increasing.  Paul said in the last days people’s love will disappear and they become “irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5  But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  (2)  For men will be…(3)  unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control…Avoid such men as these.

Paul Sartre described the cultural breakdown as a heart issue.  “Culture is not neutral.  Life proceeds from the heart of man, and if the heart of man becomes wicked and perverted, so culture will be shaped by that wickedness and perversion.”

Jesus said this condition would happen frequently in the last days.   As He did a pattern cold lovecan be seen in His instruction.   Matthew 24:3-13…what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?…(10) And then many (Gk means the majority) will be offended, and will betray one another, and will hate one another.  (11)  And many false prophets will rise and deceive many.  (12)  And because lawlessness/iniquity shall increase, the love of many will become cold.  (13)  But he who endures to the end, the same shall be kept safe.

Note the progression. Many will be offended (many means a majority of people will face offenses), then betray one another, hate one another, be open to the deception of false prophets, becoming increasingly lawless (not under God’s rule), causing the love of many will grow cold.  Just like the movie, the relational spiritual life will be snatched from them.  Unfortunately this things usually spill over into others through strife, angry tempers, gossip and slander (1 Cor 12:20).  This is why God’s people are so strongly instructed to avoid these things

Hebrews 12:14-16 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  15  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;  

Eph 4:31-32   Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  32  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Recognize it and Run

What are some of the signs alerting us that we have crossed a line and our relational/spiritual life is becoming “snatched” by the enemy? 

  1. A biting or repulsive feelings towards a person at the thought or sight of them. You begin to care very little for the person you are bitter against.  You will be cold with feelings of hurt or resentment when around them. 
  2. You become moody or emotionally touchy especially when the person or the event is brought up.  You holding grudges and finding it difficult to forgive.  You are overly sensitive to the actions or inactions of that person.  I have seen people abruptly run out of a room when the person they were offended at spoke to them!
  3. You lose love for that person and become alienated. Usually in the form of direct hatred or what the Bible call “cold love” Mt 24:12. It isn’t always negative feelings but emotional numbness. 
  4. It is easy to slip into slander, gossip, or murmuring. Murmuring is defined Biblically as a “low roar” or complaints about someone  that are veiled or they can’t directly hear (in our day snarky veiled online comments are a frequent form of murmuring).
  5. You become less and less grateful.  This is especially true towards that person.
  6. It is hard to pray, worship, or act normal when the other person is in your presence (you become spiritually and emotionally locked up in their presence).

If we find these things in our hearts we need to practice spiritual running!  Run to Jesus to deal with our hearts.  Run to repentance.  Run to forgiveness, both asking for and giving it.  Run to confess your sins.  Run to confess and ask for prayer to be cleansed by Jesus (1 Jn 1:6-9, Jam 5:16).  Remember love covers a multitude of sins and “keeps all accounts clear” (1 Cor 13:5).  


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