My Church Journey

A Little Lessons Series

In this Little Lessons series, David Servant shares his church journey. He talks about his years as a pastor, his itinerant teaching ministry, the formation of Heaven’s Family, and his recent involvement in the House Church Movement. Discover the unforgettable event that forever changed David’s ministry and understanding of church.

Picture of Church

My Church Journey (Part 1)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

I wanted to share in this Little Lesson series about my church journey. A lot of believers have been on church journeys. I had some friends years ago who, when I was a pastor, came to my church and then left my church and then came back to my church and they said jokingly to me, we’re not Roman Catholics but we’re ‘roaming Christians’. There’s a lot of roaming Christians out there.

They tell a story about a guy who was discovered on a deserted island and he’d been stranded there for like seven years before they discovered him. And as they were rowing away with him to deliver him from captivity to this island in this little rowboat, the guy rowing noticed that there were three little huts on the beach. And he said, “Hey, what are those three huts by the way?” And he said, “Well, one of them’s my house.” And he said, “Well, what are the other two?” And he says, “Well, the one next one over there, that’s my church.” And he said, “Well then what’s, what’s the third little hut?” He says, “Well that’s the church I used to go to.”

So kind of a humorous commentary there on how Christians move around because we just can’t get along with each other. Well, I’m not going to really address the getting along part, but I am going to tell you a little bit about my church journey because I have a pretty interesting journey and I think there might be something to be gained from sharing it with you.

I grew up as a Presbyterian and in the church that I attended, it was a very liberal Presbyterian church. So they didn’t share the Gospel. We didn’t know that Jesus died for our sins. At least if they said it, we didn’t hear it and they weren’t calling anyone to repent and believe in Jesus and be born again and obey Him. So I had to get the message outside of my church and I got it outside of my church just reading the Bible that they gave me when I was confirmed at age 12. So I kind of stumbled upon Jesus by just reading about Him in the four Gospels.

And I thought I was the only person in the world who was like I was at that time, certainly nobody in my church was like I was. I was excited about Jesus and following him and nobody else seemed to be so excited. So in any case, I began my church journey and I landed first of all in a Bible study that was conducted by a seminary graduate, actually a seminary student, he hadn’t graduated yet. And he was teaching us on some of the finer points of some deep things about theology and it really confused me. And I can’t say that it helped me in the least because it wasn’t, as I look back, sound teaching. And so from there, I moved on to my freshman year of college and I got involved in a charismatic fellowship of mostly college students that was unlike anything I had ever, ever experienced.

The sermons, the messages, were relevant and biblical. And I remember going up to the leader of that fellowship the very first time I went there and I told him, you just gave the very best sermon I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m sure he was blessed by that. And the worship was wonderful. Oh my goodness. They didn’t just sing the old hymns of the reformation. They sang songs that they wrote and songs that were written by others in churches like theirs. And the worship was worshipful. People closed their eyes and people lifted their hands in adoration up to God. And you felt a transcendent feeling. It was so beautiful being in that church with other like minded people who were excited about God, who loved Jesus, who wanted to know Him more intimately and loved to worship Him. And it wasn’t just an old pipe organ upfront. Anyone who could play an instrument, they said we’re going to put you to use to help us worship the Lord. And it was a beautiful, beautiful aroma, I’m sure that rose up to the Lord. So that was my first really positive, good church experience. And they certainly were trying and they certainly were sincere, sincere folks. Nothing, nothing negative to say at all about them.

But then I went off to Bible school and I learned that I could be a pastor and I could lead people. And so I got a vision for a church that well, guided me for quite some time because I then entered into full time vocational ministry and actually pioneered and pastored my first church in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And we started by just meeting as a little Bible study but the goal was to get a church building as fast as we possibly could so that we could have church services. Because in order to have a church, you’ve got to have church services, or so I thought.

And so we eventually did a find a building, an old vacant church building. And we started having services on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday nights and people came and it grew and eventually we bought a building and so forth. And that’s a whole other story.

Now I want to take a pause in my story right here to tell you that we’re apt to make a mistake in our understanding of what church should be and what church is when we don’t understand some of the basic fundamentals of what Jesus is looking for. All right? And if you’ve been watching Little Lessons for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that I’m going to say that right now, that what Jesus is looking for is he’s looking for disciples. Because that’s what he clearly indicated in the Gospels and one of the last things he said was go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe or obey all that I’ve commanded you.

So with that foundation, then we can begin to understand what does the church exist for? Well, the church exists, maybe not in its entirety, but certainly a major reason why the church exists is for the making of disciples. Right? Right. Because that’s what Jesus wants. So if we’re going to measure our success as in our church, we ought to be asking ourselves that question. Well, are we succeeding at making disciples? Or another way to say it is, are we succeeding in helping people to become progressively more obedient to the commandments of Jesus Christ? Okay, so now back to back to my story.

So was I successful at making disciples who are progressively becoming more obedient to Jesus Christ? Well, that really wasn’t even our vision. I know that’s going to be hard for you to understand, but I didn’t know everything I know now. Our vision was to build a church and to get people to come and our success was determined by how many people were coming. And then another secondary means of measuring our success was, how much money did we get in the offering this week? Because if we have more money, we could maybe get a bigger building or we could hire another staff member and we can build our business as it were, just like any business would say. More money, more income, we can expand and make more money.

All right, well, I’m out of time for this additional lesson, so we’ll have to pick up here on the very next one. Hope you don’t miss it as I share with you more about my church journey. God bless.

My Church Journey (Part 2)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

I want to tell you a little bit more today about my church journey. If you missed the last Little Lesson, well, I’d encourage you to go watch that one first because you’re going to miss the first part of this story. But when I left off in our last edition of Little Lessons, I was talking about the very first church that my wife and I pioneered and pastored in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was sharing about how right from the outset, the whole goal was to initially get a building where we could have church services.

The focus was on the events, and I call that today kind of event-focused Christianity. It’s all about the event. We come and we have a gathering, and we hear a speaker or we listen to this special talented worship leader or singer or something. Or we go to a conference and we hear multiple speakers, and oh, isn’t it wonderful.

Well, it is wonderful, as long as it lends itself to accomplishing the goal that Jesus wants to see happen. He wants to see disciples being made, disciples. Those are people who are progressively becoming more like Jesus because they’re progressively becoming more obedient to his commandments. And so we ought to judge everything in light of that test. Is this helping to make disciples? And I confess that in my church that I pastored, I really didn’t have that as my goal.

I wanted to help people know how to have more blessing from God, which again, nothing really wrong with that except if we’re not tying it in with obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ. Because that’s where all the blessing is, and the blessing isn’t necessarily measured in material things, because the most valuable things are spiritual things and eternal things. And Jesus repeatedly sends us the message and so does the apostle Paul and all the rest of New Testament writers that our life is but a vapor, and we don’t want to be wasting our time focused on temporal things, we want to be focused on eternal things and obedience to Jesus is an eternal thing. We can lay up treasure in heaven by being obedient to Jesus, all right?

I pastored that first church for, I guess, about three, three and a half years, and our congregation grew to about 300 people. But I didn’t know what I eventually stumbled upon. My church journey continued by taking some time away from pastoring and doing some itinerant teaching and traveling and ministering overseas, and then going back to pastoring for a couple of years, and then going back to itinerant teaching for a while, and then going back to pastoring for a third time.

In all three of those cases, I was focused on church services, and measuring my success by how many people were attending. Now I was a frustrated pastor at times, as are most pastors, most honest pastors, most Christian pastors, because it didn’t seem that in every case the people of my churches were super hungry for God. Many times, going to church was just kind of a ritualistic thing. We don’t want it to last too long, because it kind eats  into our list of activities that we have scheduled for Sundays, and there could be a football game coming on after church. We need to hurry up and get home for that.

That becomes a little bit discouraging, and you begin to question and wonder, “What is really the point of all this? Are we just putting on a show here so that people feel good and they’re entertained and they get a good feeling when they spend some time in singing songs because the musicians and the singers are so talented, and a little bit of a kind of a rock concert feeling? Is that really what it’s all about?” And I really began to have questions about the whole church thing. What’s the point?

I was gradually beginning to realize that we should be making disciples. In fact, in the third church that I pastored, I definitely had an epiphany of sorts. I was reading in Revelation, Jesus’ message to the seven churches, and I noticed that some of those churches were really off-base and they were blind to how far off-base they were.

So I’m going to give you the very short version here. I began to pray and ask the Lord, “What do you think of my church?” And He directed me then to Matthew chapter 25, verses 31 through 46, the future judgment of the sheep and the goats, and asked me the question, by the Holy Spirit, “Hey, Pastor David, you want to know what I think about your church? Well, let me ask you a question. If everybody in your church today died and stood at this judgment of the sheep and the goats, and they were judged by this criteria: I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty, you gave me a drink; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick or in prison and you visited me; I was a stranger, and you invited me in, if everyone in your church died, and they were judged by that criteria, how many would be sheep, and how many would be goats? And in answering that question, you will have a better idea of what I think about your ministry and your church.”

Of course, that was a killer, an absolute killer for me. I went from thinking I was this wonderful man of God, to realizing that I was failing miserably in the eyes of my Lord, and I needed to repent. So, repent I did, and I confessed my sin to my congregation, and I told them, “I have not been a man of God. I have not been making disciples. I have not been what I’m expected to be by the One who’s the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. So, I ask you to forgive me, and I’ve repented, and you’re going to see a different person in this pulpit from now on.”

So, my sermons changed. In fact, I think the very next Sunday, I preached about the sheep and the goats and I asked everybody in my congregation that was there that day the same question the Holy Spirit asked me, “If you died sitting right here in this church right now, and you went to this judgment and you were judged by this criteria, would you be a sheep or would you be a goat?” And I said, “Don’t answer it out loud, but if the answer that you’re giving right now in your mind is, ‘I would be a goat,’ you’re a goat. And that means you’d go to hell, and that means you’re going to hell. And I know that some of you are thinking, ‘Well, I go this church! And I prayed a little prayer to receive Jesus, and I give money, and I listen to Christian music.'” And I said, “Well, okay, but this is what Jesus said.” And that’s what I began to focus on. I tried to begin to actually make disciples because that’s what Jesus said to do.

All right. Well, I’m out of time for today’s Little Lesson. I’m going to pick it up here on our next Little Lesson. I hope to see you then. Don’t miss it.

My Church Journey (Part 3)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

I’ve been sharing here on this beautiful Florida beach, as the sun is rising over in the East there, about my church journey. In the last lesson, I was sharing about my experience in the third church that my wife and I pioneered and pastored. And specifically the story of how the Lord led me to reading Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31 through 46. The future judgment of the sheep and the goats. And he asked me the question, “If everybody in your church died today, and stood at this judgment, how many would be sheep and how many would be goats?” Of course all that just ruined me in a good way, and so I repented, I asked God to forgive me, and I asked my congregation to forgive me, and I began to try to make disciples by teaching the Word.

Never underestimate the power in one sermon, spoken, written, no matter what. Because if it contains truth from the Word of God, well then it’s powerful. Because God’s Word is powerful. Jesus is not here on the Earth today in the flesh modeling before us how we ought to live and so forth. We can’t see him according to flesh, but we certainly have his Holy Spirit living in us, and we have the stories in the Bible about him. Who would ever underestimate the power of reading something that Jesus said, or anything that’s inspired by the Holy Spirit in the Bible? I mean, that’s the Word of God.

So a sermon based on the Word of God, never underestimate the power of one sermon. So I’m certainly not downplaying the importance of preaching and teaching in the church, it can be powerful. As I did that, after I repented as a pastor, and began to focus on teaching more of the truth, we did see some results. Now, we also experienced some things that were not so good. Because some people didn’t like it. Which was surprising. We’re all claiming to be Christians, but we don’t want to hear about obeying Christ’s commandments. Something is very wrong with that.

Wow, it’s just hard even to know where to start there. I mean, if we have faith in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God before who we will stand before one day and give an account, well, it stands to reason we’d want to obey all his commandments, right? Right.

So, I ultimately was released from that pastorate and began teaching pastors all over the world in pastors conferences. What I would do is I would tell them my church story. What happened in my last church. I would just tell them about Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 31 through 46. And how that impacted me, and the question the Holy Spirit asked me. And I wouldn’t point my finger at those pastors who were in those conferences. I’d just tell my story and, of course, I knew what all them were thinking, they were thinking, “Wow, what if everybody in my church died today and stood at this judgment of the sheep and the goats? How many would be sheep and how many would be goats?”

So many of them began to evaluate, of course, the real fruitfulness of their ministries. And why? There was significant impact. And I ultimately wrote a book called The Disciple Making Minister, that contained that kind of teaching. It’s been translating into something like 30 languages, and there are lots of people from around the world reading that. So that stuff is still impacting people. People write to me rather frequently, I bump into people rather frequently, who tell me how some of that teaching impacted them and changed their life, and set them on a new course.

But I’m talking about my church journey here, and I’m bringing up more to the present. When I left my last church, I was itinerating as a teacher, but I was home some of the time. So my wife and I would visit churches. And was the very first time that we got our perspective from the pew rather than the pulpit. I’m going to tell you, it was eye opening. I remember saying to my wife one time as we were driving home, I said, “You know, honey, the best part of church is when it’s over.” I’m sitting there looking at the back of somebody’s head, and watching this show up on the stage, and I was used to being a part of that show. So it was a little tough for me to be sitting out there with the viewers and not up in the front with the performers.

Looking at the back of people’s heads and oftentimes listening to sermons that weren’t always entirely biblical, and oftentimes wrongly motivated, and listening to pastors that really weren’t trying to make disciples, just trying to build a church and get more people to come, I became kind of disillusioned. I said to my wife, “You know, the best part of church is when it’s over, because at least then you can talk to people, and you can kind of interact with them, and interrelate with them, and you can have spiritual conversations.” “What’s the Lord doing in your life? What’s the Lord showing you? Is the Lord opening any doors for you to serve him?” The real stuff of Christianity, not just listening, listening, listening to the endless sermon.

Sometimes I would look at those parishioners out in the pews, and I’d look around the church, and think to myself, “Does this pastor not realize that no one is listening to what he’s saying right now?” He’s up there droning on, and yes, people’s faces are facing towards the front, but I could tell by looking at them that no one was really listening, they had that thousand-yard stare in their eyes, and I just thought, “This is insane.” People are coming pretending to listen, and someone’s up there speaking, fooling himself that they are listening, and even if they were listening, it’s not going to change their life much at all. Because it’s not really biblical, it’s not challenging, it’s not lending itself to making disciples. I just thought, “Something is wrong with this picture.”

So I was sitting there one time in my living room, one Sunday evening, and I said to my wife, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could strip away all the non-essentials from church and just like meet in your house?” Kind of like a Bible study. You know, you could sit in a circle, but we could say this is church, because it has all the main components of church. You don’t have an ordained pastor there, and you don’t have a choir, and you don’t have a baptismal tank, and pews and so forth. But you’ve got the essentials. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst,” so obviously Jesus is willing to come into our living rooms.

I said, “We could just sit around, we could worship the Lord. Maybe a guitar, maybe a cappella. We could study the Word together. People could interact, people could ask questions and so forth. We could take our money instead of giving it to the mortgage, and the electric bill, we could help the poor. Help the ‘least of these’ like Jesus said the sheep do.” My wife said, “Yeah, that would be great.” I said, “Let me just Google this and see if anyone has ever thought of this before.” I Googled it, and I said to my wife, “Oh my goodness, Becky, not only have people thought about this, a lot of people have thought about this. And a lot of people are doing this and they’ve been doing it for decades all over the world. They call it The House Church Movement.”

It was happening in China, millions of people were in house churches. I realized that actually maybe it was possible, very possible, that in the wider body of Christ around the world, the true believers in Jesus, more of them probably meet in houses, or in apartments, than meet in churches, because of the explosion of the gospel in places like China and India, and so forth. Okay. Well, I’ll tell more about my church journey on the very next edition of Little Lessons. Thanks for joining me.

My Church Journey (Part 4)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

I’ve been sitting on this beautiful spot on a beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida while the sun is just rising over the palm trees over here in the east, sharing my church journey. And this is the fourth time I’m talking about this. I hope you’ve watched the other three because otherwise you’re breaking into the middle of a great story here, okay?

I left off sitting there in my living room after I had left my last church that I pastored and pioneered, and I said to my wife, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a church that was just the bare bones essentials? You meet in a house, you know, you just worship with a guitar or a harmonica, or just a cappella. You share the Word. People ask questions. Instead of taking up an offering to pay the mortgage, you can give the money to the ‘least of these’ or help evangelists, or help missionaries around the world, you know.” And my wife said, “That’s a great idea.” And I said, “Let’s Google it and see if anyone’s ever thought of this before.”

Now this was about 20 years ago, and I Googled it, and I was so shocked to find out that there were tens of thousands of hits, and people were talking about it. People were doing house churches. There were house church movements all over the world, and oh my goodness, I began to read and read and read and study, and I bought books about house churches. It was tough for my wife and I to start a house church because we traveled so much internationally and domestically, and so we weren’t around, and so it was tough for us to lead a house church.

So we looked for a house church. We had some friends, and we do have some friends who are in house churches, but they’re different flavors. And I don’t want to go into all that. But, I’ll just be honest with you. Amongst the house churches that exist in America, there’s a lot of different kinds. Some are centered around some pet doctrine that the leader has discovered that nobody else knows, and he gathers his little group around him, and he indoctrinates them so that only they have the truth, and everybody else is wrong.

Some house churches are just a bunch of disgruntled people that got hurt because they used to play the piano, but a better piano player started coming to their church and they got demoted, and the other person got promoted, and they’re all bitter about it, and so they left. Or, the pastor preached a sermon they don’t agree with, you know, and so many house churches consist of just bitter people. And you can tell because that’s all they talk about. You don’t want to be a part of a house church like that.

And if you’re a part of a house church like that, either leave or just say, “Hey folks, Jesus did say something here about forgiveness. Maybe we ought to think about that.”

So you have all these different flavors of house churches. It was tough for us to start one, but eventually we did and we invited folks. Some folks came. Some folks came and went. But, it didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Of course, many places overseas, that was all there was. I mean, the house church movement in China was huge, and I’ve met house church leaders in China who themselves have planted, you know, scores of churches that have planted many other churches. It exploded. A house church explosion, and they truly are disciples of Christ who are endeavoring to follow Him. They’re fervent in their love for Jesus and in their prayer and their witness. It’s the real deal.

But the house movements in the West, in many cases as we visited them, studied them, oftentimes I came away with the feeling of people have found the least committed version of Christianity that they could find. We all come to somebody’s house. We sit around and flap our gums about the Bible, you know, and give our, many cases, ridiculous opinions and twistings of Scripture. And we have a meal and we watch football, and we call it church. It’s great. We don’t have to give any money. We don’t have to volunteer for Sunday School, no pastors wagging his finger at us, you know. We love this.

And, so that really disappointed us, because by that time we had figured out that the point of coming together is to help to make disciples and to be challenged in the Word of God, and to grow spiritually, and to seek the Lord. To become more like Jesus, okay? So, we tried that in our house church by going verse by verse through a book of the New Testament, but looking back now I recognize that we made some mistakes. Because I’m going to finish off this whole story by telling you about a house church I’m involved in now in my house that I’m absolutely loving, because I learned a few things that we were missing in that first house church.

And the one thing above all that we were missing in that first house church was really an intentionality to grow spiritually. And we were still kind of mistaken into thinking that the more we studied the Bible and the more knowledge we gained, we were accomplishing the goal. We were growing spiritually. And unfortunately there were a few people in our house church who had some funny ideas, and they were kind of locked into a babyhood phase of Christianity, and they weren’t really open to any real challenges as far as their thinking and their interpretation of the Word of God. And so, that kind of sucked the life out of it week by week.

Again, don’t get me wrong. If you’re in the Word of God and you’re discussing the Word of God, and truth is coming forth, it’s going to benefit somebody, and there were people that were benefited, and there’s fruit that exists today because of our house church. But eventually we had to shut it down because I just wasn’t happy about it.

So, we went from, in my journey as I’ve shared with you over the last four times, from dead unsaved church to kind of a theological Bible study, to a good charismatic fellowship to the ministerial phase of my life starting churches that needed buildings, and trying to get more people to come and so forth, to then ultimately to a house church, and then ultimately to no church.

And I quit going to church, or doing anything that would resemble what looks like a gathering of believers, other than the fact that I happen to direct a ministry called Heaven’s Family, and I’m interfacing with Christians every day, okay? Even not going to church, I was interfacing much more with the body of Christ than way, way, way beyond any Christian who goes to church. Because I’m teaching around the world, teaching when opportunities are given in the United States, interfacing with our staff members, all devoted followers of Christ, so I’m not missing out on those elements that most people need from church.

There was no danger of me backsliding by not going to church. It might not be the case with you, okay? So I’m not telling anybody don’t go to church. But my story has a happy ending because now I’ve come this complete circle after 40-some-odd years of this church journey of mine. And and I can’t wait to tell you about the happy ending of this full circle.

Okay, hope to see you next time. God bless.

My Church Journey (Part 5)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

I’m so happy that you’ve joined me here once again on this beautiful morning on a gulf coast beach in Florida as the sun is rising and shell-seekers are walking by me here. And you and I are talking about my church journey, and I hope you’ve watched the first four, because if you have, you know what everything’s leading up to this episode of Little Lessons, because I want to tell you about the happy ending. And the happy ending has brought me to a place where, once again, I’m involved in a house church that meets in my home with about eight or so people.

And what makes it so different than anything that I’ve ever done before is that it is very, very intentional. And if you’ve listened to my journey here over the last four episodes, you know that that’s been part of the journey. Because when you don’t know what you’re gathering for or what the purpose of it is, well then, it’s hard to reach a goal when you don’t know what the goal is. And as I described to you in my journey before, there were times, when I was a pastor of a box church, when the goal was just to just to get as many people as I could inside that box on Sunday mornings, and I went home happy if we had more people this Sunday than we had last Sunday. But I woke up to the fact that what we’re supposed to be doing is making disciples, people who follow and obey the commandments of Jesus Christ.

So I gradually found myself getting closer and closer to that, and now it has me in a house church, stripped away of anything I don’t consider and I don’t think the Bible considers essential to have a healthy, fruitful, God-pleasing church. And I’m actually, in my house church, I’m more typical than Christians who meet in official church buildings. Because if you take all the churches around the world and add them up, there’s millions more house churches out there where Christians are meeting at homes and apartments than there are church buildings because of the explosion of the Gospel in the non-Western world. Okay, so don’t look at me like I’m some weirdo. I’m no weirdo. I’m more typical. Okay?

And when we get together, our meetings are divided into three components. And the first component is looking back, and the next component is looking up, and the next component is looking forward, and it’s all centered around getting closer to Jesus and obeying his commandments. So I’m going to start with looking up, and you’ll understand then looking back and looking forward after I talk about looking up. That’s the middle part of our meeting. And we look up. We look up to God. He’s the one we love and adore and worship and want to obey and please, because we’re going to stand before him one day. We’re actually going to see His face, so we better be looking up. And we’re self-feeders. We don’t have any person giving the sermon. Of course, I’ve been studying the Bible for 40-some odd years now. But others within our group have been Christians for quite some time, and they have the Holy Spirit, and the Bible does say when you come together, each one has a teaching or a Psalm or a prophecy or tongue or interpretation. So apparently, according to the Bible, it’s not supposed to be a one-man show.

And so we look at a passage of scripture and we talk about it, and we ask four questions: what do you like about this passage of scripture? Number two: what do you find challenging about this passage of scripture? Number three: what does this passage of scripture teach us about God? Number four: what does this passage teach us about people? And so everyone gets to give their thoughts, and we get different insights from different people. Weird insights get challenged. People say, “Oh, you don’t have a professional there. You could have heresy.” Well, come on, now. Think about that. We have heresy being taught by professionals. Right? You know, whole denominations. So don’t worry about that heresy thing. When everybody gets to give their thoughts, you mitigate the heresy risk, and you’re not studying difficult-to-understand passages. You’re looking at the ones that make some sense to all of us.

And then at the end of it, you say, “Well, let’s pray and ask God to speak to us by His Holy Spirit. God, we’ve just studied this. We’ve just discussed it. How do you want me to adjust my life accordingly? How do you want this to impact me? What do you want me to do this coming week differently than what I was doing before today?” And we all pray, maybe 5, 10 minutes, and then we all share, “Here’s what I think the Lord’s telling me.” So if we studied the parable of the unforgiving servant, maybe someone’s saying, “I think God wants me to go to my brother, with whom I’ve been estranged for many years, and try to reconcile with my brother. That’s what I feel the Holy Spirit’s telling me to do in reaction to this message.”

See, unlike so many church services … and I’ve been guilty of this on both ends of the spectrum, leading them and sitting in them … you hear a sermon, and it might melt you into your chair in conviction, and then after the last hymn, you walk out and do your best to forget it, and you succeed while you’re eating the donut or watching the football game. That’s not happening in my house church, because we’re verbally, publicly saying, “Here’s what the Lord’s telling me to do this coming week.” And so then we make a commitment, we’re going to obey it, and we pray for each other, that the Lord will help us. So that’s that looking forward. So when we come together next week, then we start off by looking backwards, and we say, “Okay, how’s your week been? Hey Joe, remember you said you were going to go talk to your estranged brother and try to reconcile with him? How did that go?” Whew, oh my goodness, accountability! Oh my goodness, actual expectation that we’re actually intentional in trying to grow and follow Christ!

What a amazing, simple concept that’s missing in most churches where you just hear sermons and walk out and no one ever asks you, “How did that impact you and what are you going to do?” And they never ask you once you said what you were going to do what you did do. And so we have loving accountability. We are admonishing one another, encouraging one another. If Joe says, “You know, I never did talk to my brother, because I was afraid to.” “Well, okay, but do you still think it was the Holy Spirit that told you?” “Well, yeah.” “Well, let’s pray for you, that God will help you, give you the boldness. And maybe we can talk about some pointers as to how you could broach the subject, because we love you and we want to see you reconcile to your brother, and that’s what you said the Holy Spirit’s telling you to do. So I want to help you obey God.” Hallelujah. That’s church, buddy.

And I’m not trying to present a negative thought about any kind of church out there, but I am sharing a principle that ought to be included. It’s totally biblical. And many churches have instituted accountability groups and small groups, and sometimes they’re just like Bible studies. You hear a sermon, and then you forget it. We think we’re growing because we’re just adding more knowledge to our brains. I’m talking about loving accountability where we really love each other and we’re really intentional, trying to obey Jesus. Okay. So that’s it. That’s my church journey, and it’s ongoing, and there’s more I could tell you, and I think I probably will tell you more in future little lessons. Okay. Thank you so much for joining me. God bless you.