Recently a new friend asked if I knew about what Francis Chan was doing in California. My friend thought that our work here sounded similar to “We Are Church,” The ministry Francis Chan started a few years ago. So I visited their website and this is how they describe their “structure.” What do you think?
Now it’s one thing to identify these four values, but it’s certainly another thing to be part of a body that actually exhibits these qualities. In truth, these biblical values aren’t new at all, and many contemporary churches claim to pursue these values, but both the Bible and experience have shown that these qualities don’t just come about by accident. We pray that, by the Holy Spirit, God would guide the intentionality behind our church structure. Our structure isn’t perfect, and being part of a body like this isn’t easy at all, but we’ve already seen God do powerful works among us.
- Each church meets in a home.
- Each church has two pastors, both of whom aren’t paid.
- Tithes and offerings are collected, but all are set aside to be used for missions locally and abroad.
Since there isn’t any rent to pay, no staff salaries, and the tithes and offerings aren’t used to run the church, this structure means that the church effectively costs no money to maintain. As such, the pastors are able to make significant ministry decisions without worrying about if they’ll run out of money, for the structure never depended on the money from the beginning.
Meeting in a home forces the size of the gathering to be small, which means that the members can actually get to know everyone in the church, and by the Holy Spirit, these members can become family. But as we all know, family is difficult, but if we really are going to exhibit this Christ-like love that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can’t shy away from people who are different from us. No, not only do we invite these different types of people into our church gatherings and into our homes, we’re inviting them into the body of Christ—a genuine family—with all of the ups and downs that go along with that.
In this same line of thought, meeting in homes also means we meet within the neighborhoods of some of the church members, and many of our leaders have chosen to live in more difficult communities. This means that when we do outreach, we’re reaching out to the folks in our very own neighborhoods. Further, the simple truth of the matter is that we can only spend a limited amount of time with the many people we know and love, and when it comes to our church family, this only gets more and more difficult as the size of the body gets larger and when people live farther away.
Nevertheless, we can’t settle with just being a “family” and not a “Christ-centered family.” As such, while we’ve seen amazing love bind our small church families together, we can’t forget that we were put on this earth to proclaim the name of Jesus. Therefore, for the sake of the Kingdom, once a church grows to a sufficient size and new leaders are equipped, it multiplies (think “splits”) into two churches. To help keep us focused on the mission, we aim for our churches to multiply in six months to a year.
Essential in these multiplications is the equipping of leaders. The current pastors of all the churches meet together to train and sharpen each other under the guidance of the elders. Within the individual churches, each church has two pastors, and these pastors prayerfully disciple its members in hopes that two are identified that could pastor a church one day. In God’s timing, when the time comes for a church to multiply, the two subsequent churches are each lead by one of the original pastors and one of the new pastors.
To maintain a sense of unity across the multiple churches, one Sunday out of the month all of the churches come and do church together, aptly named “Church Together.”
We all are on the same daily Bible reading plan (here) and come together to teach, learn, and discuss God’s Word on Sundays under the oversight of the pastors. This allows for questions and participation by every member.
This takes place before, during, and after our gatherings. In particular, we all share a meal after our gatherings. Also, since we meet in homes in our communities, our fellowship extends beyond Sunday mornings as well. (Heb. 10:25).
We take the Lord’s Supper in a reverent and biblical manner and keep the cross as central. This universal act connects us with believers of the past, and it proclaims the death of Jesus to those observing (1 Cor. 11:23-29).
We strive to be praying churches. We lay hands on each other, praying for needs and more boldness, and we commission new leaders with prayer. Also, each of our churches has a prayer night during the week to encourage our commitment to God in prayer. We believe the Creator of the Universe hears our prayers (James 5:16).
I continue to be encouraged by how God is leading his people all across this country on a similar path with similar understanding. Is it just a fad or is God really doing a fresh work in North America?
Visit WeAreChurch.com for more details on their work and their training opportunities.