It was a long trustee meeting at BTSR yesterday, but afterward we all went to Baker’s Crust for dinner and it was there—while I was having a goat cheese and avocado panini—that Susan Rucker asked me about an idea I had brought up at our last meeting. I had asked if the seminary could create a curriculum to train pastors of house churches. Wouldn’t that be a great way to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia? To train a hundred house church pastors and turn them loose on the city?
Susan said she had given it a lot of thought since then, and she had some excellent ideas about how we could go forward. By the time dinner was over we had come up with an action plan and assigned responsibilities. But during our conversation I told her the story of my recent visit to Lucy Corr Village.
It must have been six months ago that I got email from a woman named Linda, a hairdresser at Lucy Corr. She wondered if I would ever have time to come for a visit. She said there were about ten people in the assisted living wing who got together each Sunday to watch the service from First Baptist Church. She said, “They are one of your microchurches.”
I think I’ve told you about the microchurch concept before, but it’s simple: we encourage people who watch our services on television to invite two or three others to watch with them (based on Jesus’ promise that he is present wherever two or three are gathered in his name). We encourage them to share a simple meal afterward and then to share prayer concerns and say prayers for each other. Finally, we encourage them to take up an offering, and use the money to bring heaven to earth right where they are.
Apparently the folks at Lucy Corr were doing that, and Linda thought they would appreciate a visit from their “pastor.” So, we worked out a time for a visit. It took a while, but we finally settled on a date that would work for everybody and I followed my GPS to an address on Lucy Corr Drive, behind the Chesterfield County courthouse. I met Linda at the front door and she took me back to the community room, where everybody was waiting. But they didn’t know who was coming. It was a surprise. And when I walked in they gasped, and somebody said, “That’s my pastor!”
I felt like a celebrity.
We ate lunch together, and I reminded them of the microchurch concept. I said, “I don’t only want you to watch our services on TV. I want you to pray for each other and take care of each other and maybe even take up an offering, but don’t send it to First Baptist Church. Use it to bring heaven to earth right here at Lucy Corr Village.” And they promised that they would.
I drove home encouraged, believing that even if the Kingdom wasn’t coming everywhere, it was coming there, and that if we could multiply the success of that microchurch by a hundred, five hundred, a thousand…the effect would be noticeable.
So, not a megachurch—a microchurch—rather, hundreds of microchurches. And maybe hundreds of house churches, too, until they are in every neighborhood, every community. Maybe that’s why Jesus said the Kingdom is like a mustard seed—tiny—but capable of growing up into something so big the birds of the air can build their nests in its branches.
Makes me excited just to think about it.