It would have to be called a.. "not for the faint of heart".. group. The make up of the group would be people who have been redeemed and know to whom they really belong but who are tired of trying to measure up to the standards of religion which have nothing to do with the reality of Christ in life. The membership would also consist of people who are tired of failing relationally, even as Christians, and are willing to honestly assess their own failures before the group so REAL growth can happen with ONE ANOTHER.
This would be possible ONLY after building a "safe" atmosphere for all in the group by agreeing with one another to a few guidelines like.. 1) No shaming or condemning anyone who has guts enough to share where they REALLY are in life.. 2) No trying to correct or fix someone who actually does honestly share where they are unless they request help with it all.. 3)No speaking for another [if a spouse is present for example) or trying to explain what someone is saying or means by what they are saying.. 4) No speaking of what is talked about in the group with specificity outside the group without permission to do so.
The agenda would be set ONLY after gathering for a meeting and, while a gifted couple would perhaps co-facilitate, they and others who are gifted as well, would lead a time of basic instruction of the scriptures that might apply to any given subject. Such instruction would come at any proper time that presents itself along the way. They might even sing a little before the meeting time is over.. who knows!!
This group would NOT be comfortable with a frustrated preacher want-to-be who talks all the time. Certainly not with a closet Messiah, male or female, who has all the answers for those smart enough, in their opinion, to listen to him/her. They would not be comfortable with a helper who only feels good about themselves if it's obvious he/she has been able to correct someone who misses the mark in his/her opinion. The people of the group might even share that uncomfortableness with the offender in the proper way and the proper time.
But it WOULD be a comfortable place for anyone who's wounded, broken, hurting or just plain honest about struggles in life and wants to experience Jesus in ALL of life and who is ready to get some handles on things that make sense biblically as well as a healthy dose of good old fashion common sense.
The people of this group would then go out to live in a world that has a totally different emphasis and value system than do they, but would, out of real love, be willing to share the message of Christ with other hurting and lost people they meet along the way. Those who are found to be ready, able and willing to hear that message will be loved into the Kingdom.
If the message is rejected the people of the group would continue to live with and love those people in the world regardless BECAUSE their goal is to live out the reality they are learning as a group with all people in or outside the group NOT to make group members.
Were someone to respond in faith and become a believer, the people of the group would then share and care enough to get them connected to the gathered group where they too may grow and learn about what it means to REALLY belong to the Lord Jesus and live relationally with all kinds of people both in the group and outside the group.
Wait a minute..I think I've just described the gathered church of the New Testament.
A cool quote that may relate to the above post...
“Twentieth century Christians must re-learn the language of Scripture with respect to church. For the original meaning of countless Biblical terms like “church, “minister,” “pastor,” “house of God,” “ ministry,” and “fellowship” have been largely lost, thus eroding the landscape of the New Testament assembly. What is more, these words have been invested with institutional power – a power that was foreign to those who originally penned them in the Bible. Consequently, a pressing need in the church today is the rediscovery of Biblical language.”
Frank A. Viola from “Rethinking the Wineskin.”