The Innovate series takes a look at Christians who are doing things outside-the-box. They see the principles of the New Testament and are attempting to follow them in fresh ways that they view as more compatible with our culture.
This does not mean that they throw out solid doctrine or orthodoxy. It just means that they are solve problems on issues that are not clear-cut in Scripture.
Interestingly, the “resource center” (which I’m about to get to) is taking hold in cities around America. I personally know people who have started a resource center through their churches in Rockford, IL and Ames, IA.
A New Form of Church
So before we get to the resource center as a concept, we have to explain what circumstances even allow for one.
Many of you have heard of house church movements around the world. In China, it’s a necessity. In India, it is the only way to accommodate the large number of new believers. And even in America, this movement is beginning to take shape.
The goals are to meet in homes to promote hospitality, true family-like community, neighborhood outreach, and to give each person a greater opportunity to use their spiritual gifts (in America, many times the only ones who use their gifts are the pastor and the worship leader. But we are all a priesthood, as Peter said, and as Martin Luther confirmed during the Reformation, and we all must use our gifts).
Not to mention, it is exactly how the Apostle Paul planted churches.
Obviously, there are problems with the house church movement. But I think any problem thrown at the concept can be boiled down to 2 main problems – lack of leadership development and lack of a strong network. And my contention is that if we do those 2 things right, the problems solve themselves.
You say that house churches tend to fall into heresy? It’s because these movements traditionally do not have strong leadership development to protect the churches from that heresy. Moreover, without a strong connectedness between the churches, there is no accountability (and I might also add that any churches which meet in buildings are susceptible to the same things).
Maybe your problem with the house church concept is that house churches are born out of a desire to separate from the evangelical church, and that disunity alone is sin enough. But again, with strong leaders we protect against sinful arrogance. And with a strong network, we not only partner with other house churches, but also with traditional churches in an attempt to take care of our cities and bolster the unity of our faith.
Those are two examples of objections answered, but there are many more. And I believe they can all be answered with biblically-qualified leaders, and a network for accountability and the sharing of resources.
But this article is not about house churches. The house church model is why the resource center idea is taking off. This brings me to my next point –
Why a Resource Center?
Just because churches meet in homes does not mean there is no use for buildings.
If we want a quality leadership development program, there has to be a place to meet where all the leaders in the network can be trained (and no, I’m not talking about seminary. See a previous article to see why theological training is beginning to change drastically throughout the world).
In addition, we need a place out of which we can base our network in the city, as well as use for different community outreaches.
What is a Resource Center?
Simply put, a resource center is put in place in order to meet the needs of the community, which include the needs of the church.
Forest City Church is an example of a network of house churches which utilizes a resource center. They generally tend to use it as a city resource.
- They have a private elementary school which meets in the building.
- A non-profit (which is unassociated with Forest City Church) also runs business out of their resource center.
- They hold public baptisms there.
City Church of Ames-Des Moines also has a resource center, and they use it for many things. Their usage is based more on the inner-workings of their church and its partners.
- They teach courses for their Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development.
- They hold yearly conferences for the leadership they network with all over the world.
- Their worship guild meets there for rehearsal, meetings, and training.
- They hold general leadership development which takes the place of their traditional Sunday morning services.
- They house their non-profit, BILD, International, under the same roof.
- They have their weekly network leadership meetings at the building.
- They have researchers studying bibliocultural and historical issues at their research center.
A resource center is meant to help everyone in the city.
The larger community knows that if they need help with problems in their life (or even just a place to play soccer for the afternoon), that the resource center is a place that meets urgent needs.A resource center is meant to #help everyone in the #city. Click To Tweet
The church knows that they have a place for leadership development and general meetings.
Families know that they have resources available to them.
Individuals can go there for one-on-one mentoring or counseling.
It is a beautiful picture, and very innovative indeed. Praise be to God!