Journeying With Jesus

The Adventure of Faith

Problems or Polarities?



        Problem Solving vs. Managing Polarities

Organizations, be they highly structured or organically based, all have to resolve tensions arising from conflicts or differing perspectives. A key leadership skill is to discern whether the required intervention is to solve a problem or to manage a polarity. I want to explore in this blog the differences.

We are very familiar with problems to solve. Generally, we analyze the problem, search for and evaluate solutions and implement the best choice. Problem solving usually has an either/or dimension and then closure ensues. At that point you move on.

One example in the early church was when the Greek-speaking Jewish widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. Another case was when a Corinthian man was found sleeping with his father’s wife. In both cases these were seen as problems to solve and the church leadership came up with specific solutions. Once the solutions were implemented the problems were solved.

Managing polarities presents different levels of complexity and skill. The polarities have core values associated with them. Polarities don’t respond to right or wrong thinking. If a polarity is treated like a “problem” then you end up with a win/lose scenario. Usually interventions fall into the both/and camp. It often means we are looking at ways to balance polarities not to eliminate them. Polarities never disappear; they are ongoing. That is why leadership must learn to “manage” polarities because they are ongoing.

Some examples of polarities we face in the Gathering include:

Corporate needs                                       vs.     Individual needs
Outward focus                                         vs.     Inward focus
Contemplative worship style                       vs.     Demonstrative worship style
Priesthood of all believers                           vs.     Five-fold Leadership
Letting experienced believers minister          vs.     Giving opportunity for gifting in others to develop

Both sides of the ledger reflect important values held by the Gathering. We will never sacrifice one for the benefit of the other. But we will find an ebb and flow in how these polarities are balanced. During certain seasons we might emphasize one polarity over another. At times we might get out of balance and have to swing back. We might find our House Churches emphasize one polarity more while our Celebration Gatherings emphasize another.

When we see how Paul handled polarizing issues in the church, he warned against division, as well as attitudes of contempt and judgment. Those can be side effects if polarities generate hostility and hurt. He also emphasized love, unity, sacrifice, and edification of the body. As a leadership we hope to find appropriate balance in our polarities as the Lord leads.

What do you think?


February 20, 2013 Posted by | House Church, Lessons learned | , , | 1 Comment

Word Time in the House Church

The house church context provides a unique environment for the study and application of God’s Word. When you have 10-20 individuals gathered in close proximity, it is different than speaking to 1000 people in an auditorium or even 40 people in a classroom. The house church gives a great opportunity for people to ask questions, to develop their understanding in a group, to share what the Holy Spirit is saying to them, and to develop points of application in community. In the context of the house church setting we do not want to be the “Sage upon the stage but the Guide along the side.” As such, we have the following guidelines for those who lead the “Word Time” in the House Gathering setting.

Our Goals:

1. Life Transformation The target of our time in the Word is not just to grow in knowledge but to change lives. Knowledge is a beginning step…it must move on to understanding, motivation, and obedience. If what we are studying does not lead to application in our personal lives, we have missed the target. As we apply and obey the Word, we are transformed by the Spirit into the image of Jesus. The content of the study, then, is always the servant of application and obedience. Jesus told us to “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.

2. Growing Self-Feeding Followers of Jesus From early on, we want believers to be able to go to the Word, have the Spirit speak to them, and be able to feed themselves. Too often believers have relied upon others to feed them. Too often those who have been fed learn to stay in a dependent state for much of their spiritual lives. Jesus said in John 14:25-27, But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. We seek to grow followers of Jesus who can go to His Word and by the work of the Spirit receive spiritual food for growth. Our time in the Word in our House Gatherings then, will emphasize everyone getting into the Word, hearing from God, obeying what we hear, and contributing corporately together.

Our Philosophy:

1. It is Bible Based: Whereas there are many great books out there written by people, our Word Time is focused on the Bible. The majority of time we will focus on a passage of scripture that is a part of a book study or the controlling text of a topical study. In topical studies we want to avoid jumping around to scores of individual verses. Some studies might need to be that way but that is not to be normative for our gatherings.

2. It is Simple and Reproducible: We see ourselves starting new groups with new believers. These new believers will be trained in a “Word-Time” method that can be easily applied thereby avoiding dependency. If we modeled a method that required seminary-trained leaders, everyone would likely stay in a dependent mode. That means we will de-emphasize the preaching/teaching model for our House Gatherings and lean on an interactive, application oriented, corporate study of the Word. We want to initiate the process of “divine discovery together.”Again we are more interested in people obeying the truth they are hearing than having 10,000 bits of new information crammed into their heads!

3. It is Relevant: The Word of God is relevant. It speaks to all cultures and all people throughout all of time. That means a big part of our Word Time will be discussing and applying biblical truths. Word Time must touch our heart, lives, relationships, identities, our failures, our sins, our purposes, our struggles, our missions, and our humanity

4. It is Engaging: Very few of us can hold an audience and keep them engaged for very long. That means we do not see our Word Time as one person doing all the talking. The role of the leader is to open the Word, have it read, and then lead the group in discovery and exploration arriving at a point of personal application. They must study the Scripture first, let it raise provocative and relevant questions, and then guide the group into interacting with the Bible. For the teachers and preachers among us, we must put aside our biases and preferences for the good of the group. Our preachers and teachers will need to find other venues outside of the House Gathering setting to express those gifts. We envision times during our Celebrations, retreats, trainings, and workshops where the teaching/preaching gifts will be more employed.

Our Methodology

Some are rightly concerned that it is important for people to know how to interpret Scripture in context. Some texts are fairly straight forward and directly apply…others will take a little more explanation of the context. One of the best ways to teach people how to do that is to practice it corporately in our House Gatherings. Some basic questions that those who are leading the Word Time should ask include the following:

  1. What does the passage say?
    • What happened?
    • What is being said about God…people?
    • Is there anything in this text that seems odd to us today?
    • What questions does this passage raise that you want to explore?
  2. How was this understood by people in its original context?
    • Is there any background information we need to know to help understand? (This is where the leader can do some background study and act as a resource.)
    • What was going on when this passage was first written?
    • Are there any events leading up to this passage that help us understand it?
  3. What are the truths to learn, principles to apply, commands to obey, examples to follow, or promises to claim that apply to us today?
    • How does this impact your relationship with God?
    • How does this impact your relationships with others?
    • How does this change the way you see your own identity?
    • What area of your life is being challenged here?
    • What is the Holy Spirit showing you about this passage?
    • Where are you struggling as it relates to this passage?
    • How does this impact God’s mission and call in your life?
    • How would you live differently as a result of this passage?
  4. What do I need to apply, obey, confess and repent, or put into action as a result of this study?

Our goal is to make followers of Jesus like Jesus. We thank God for gifted teachers and preachers but we also recognize that growth and transformation must go beyond information. What a unique setting we have in our House Gatherings to press into teaching techniques that lead to application and obedience. The House Church model provides a unique setting where each member helps others to learn how to read, study, come to the Word, ask questions, and hear from the Holy Spirit. The House Church model provides a unique setting where Word-Time can be reproduced and multiplied in thousands of homes across the Central Coast Region. This type of Word Time is part of the DNA of The Gathering by The Bay.

October 15, 2007 Posted by | House Church | , , | 5 Comments