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The Table

12-22-2019

Josh Simon

Spirit & Truth Foursquare 

17310 SE 256th St

Covington, WA 98042

Overview

This is a document outlining the vision I have, that has developed over the past four years, for church gatherings. I write this out so that it may be developed further and that others may read it and run with it. “And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2). I do not claim that this is a vision or revelation from God, simply a desire of my heart to adhere myself and my actions to the Word of God.

I have organized this in a way that allows for the vision to be expressed, clear goals and benchmarks to be outlined, and scriptural reasoning to be clear.

I do not present this as an “all or nothing” stratagem or procedural action plan to spiritual growth. I present it as something to be discussed, prayed over, honed and changed for the express reason of honoring and blessing our King. 

I believe that the core goal of leadership is to remove as many obstacles as possible from those who are following you and the goals you want them to reach. This document will remove obstacles of obscurity by giving clear measurable goals, practical actions, and scriptural backing while hopefully always allowing for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Vision

That Spirit and Truth would be a gathering of The Church that meets around The Table to be discipled by King Jesus, to both lead and submit to one another, and to prepare to/and fulfill The Great Commission.

Goals

  1. View The Church as the group not as the place of gathering or the function of the gathering
  2. Have weekly church gatherings of 8-20 people in homes.
  3. Habituate gathering around food
  4. Habituate taking of communion
  5. Read scripture aloud in community
  6. Make prayer a priority
  7. Create expectations of ownership and leadership amongst all church members
  8. Inspire personal worship through larger corporate worship 
  9. Experience personal growth of each member
  10. Experience church growth through personal relationships and the witness of salvation outside church gatherings

Specifications

  1. View The Church as the group not as the place of gathering or the function of the gathering

Every member of the church gatherings known as Spirit and Truth should get to a point where they view the Church as a group of people who gather due to their allegiance to King Jesus. The building located at 17310 SE 256th St, Covington, WA 98042 is a place of gathering not the Church. 

The Church is the Bride of Christ, she is labeled as such due to her relationship with the Groom. The Bride is not identified by her function or what she does, just as the Church is not identified by a program or things done during gatherings.

The Bride is changed and starts to look more like the Groom the longer they are in a relationship. The Church should start to look more like Christ until the Church is one with Jesus as He is one with the Father. This is achieved through habits and choices that bring individuals closer to Jesus and in turn brings the whole Church closer as well. The act of doing those habits is not the Church but the Church will gain habits that prepare her and bring her closer to oneness with Jesus.

(Revelation 19:7-9, Isaiah 54:5, Ephesians 5:25-27, 2 Corinthians 11:2) The Bride of Christ and the preparation of her for Him.

(John 17:20-26, John 14:19-21) unity and oneness with Jesus and the Father.

  1. Have weekly church gatherings of 8-20 people in homes

There is something important about the Church gathering in each other’s homes. Homes are castles with walls that make a person feel safe. This safety is both a physical safety but also an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual safety. When a person invites others to their home they are allowing that person into their life they are placing trust in that person. It also keeps people on their toes, habits formed in the home are put in check as others who share moral and spiritual ideals become witnesses. Opening up a home is opening up our lives and allowing people to be/ play a part in our lives. 

When entering another person’s home, a person is putting their safety in the other person’s hands. They are making a social agreement to live by an unknown set of rules, even a small thing such as taking off shoes in the house can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. They are choosing to be a guest and maybe with enough time a family member, which can be both uncomfortable and inconvenient. The choice to be a guest can lead to boredom, the partaking of bad food, uncomfortable or even hurtful conversation. When a person allows for all of this uncomfort and inconvenience they are in turn sharpened as a person, they are actively showing love, they are growing closer in unity with the host and in turn with the King.

In a culture that isolates; gathering together, especially in one another’s home, stands out as different and desirable. Giving up the comfort of meeting in a neutral place such as a restaurant and choosing intimacy is both Biblical and life changing.

8-20 people is strategic in that: it covers more than one family, it gives a goal of growth, it is realistic about the amount of people a house can handle and still be somewhat intimate, and finally it gives the Church an identifiable goal and reason for multiplication.

(Luke 5:27-29, Luke 10:38-40, Luke 19:5-7) A few times Jesus gathered in a person’s home.

(Acts 2:46, Col 4:15, Acts 12:12, Acts 16:40, Romans 16:3&5, Philemon 1-2) New Testament gatherings of the Church in people’s homes.

(Acts 2:47, Matthew 28:18-20, Titus 1:5) Church growth and multiplication.

  1. Habituate gathering around food

Entire social advocacy movement ad campaigns were made to encourage families to sit down and eat dinner together at the table.  The National Family Meals Month website states that kids who regularly eat with their families are more likely to make good grades, have higher self-esteem and exhibit positive social behaviors. They are also less likely to engage in risky behavior, abuse drugs or show symptoms of violence and depression. Beyond the social behavioral benefits for families and individuals there is also a spiritual significance to food and the eating and fasting of it.

Throughout the Bible we find that significant events are marked by special meals for God’s people. There is even a command to take ten percent each year of the harvest and either make a meal of it or sell it and buy all the food and drink a person desires and have a big meal with family; and every three years a person is to include the whole town in the meal.

Meals lower inhibitions and bring people closer together. There is a reason that Jesus was known for eating and drinking. The early church was known for eating meals together.

The major festivals of Old Testament Israel were, in calendar order, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles or Ingathering). After the exile, the Jews added memorial days for the fall of Jerusalem (eventually fixed as the Ninth of Ab), Purim, and the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah). In addition, the Israelites observed the Sabbath every week and the feast of the New Moon every lunar month.

(Deuteronomy 14:22-29) Party Tithe

(Acts 2:46, Matthew 11:19) New Testament eating

  1. Habituate taking of communion

Unless a person eats of Jesus’ flesh and drinks of His blood, they have no life! Communion is one of the only two ceremonies, and the only continual ceremony,  that Jesus instituted for Christians. Communion is an act of remembrance and joining in by Christians of Jesus’ death for our sins and iniquities. It is something that the early church did frequently, most likely every time they gathered in each other’s houses (seen by the fact that the richer were getting drunk off communion and leaving no wine for the poor in Corinth).

As the Church the goal is to make Communion a habit, serious in nature, and join in Jesus’ death and resurrection through an act of metaphorical elements together. 

(1 cor. 11:17-34) The seriousness of taking communion

(1 cor 11:18-21, Acts 2:42, Luke 22:19) The frequency of communion

(John 6:53) The first sentence

  1. Read scripture aloud in community

Reading scripture aloud is not something that many Christians think of as important or even as something they should do or is asked of us. While Michelle and I were in a discipleship program there was a rule that important conversations would not happen over text. The idea was that until you say it aloud you may not know how it sounds. The Bible through history has been read aloud and it even encourages the reading of scripture aloud. Hearing the word together creates questions, connections and shared understanding and culture. Reading scripture aloud is both something that is asked of us and also something that is good for our spiritual growth.

(1 Tim 4:13, Rev 1:3)  Read scripture aloud

  1. Make prayer a priority

Prayer is so important, it changes the world, it changes us and most importantly God desires us to pray. When a person prays they join in partnership with God to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. 

Jesus shared parables that his disciple would learn to “always pray and not give up” (Lk 18:1). Prayer is communication between us and the lord in that same lesson Jesus stated “Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7). Throughout God’s word we find that when God’s chosen cry out things change. Psalm 18:6 states that when we cry out it reaches God’s ears.

(Matt. 6:36, 39, 40-42, 44; 1 Thess. 5:17) Praying to not give up

(Eph. 3:17-19; Col. 4:2-3; James 5:16; Luke 6:28) Praying for the body of Christ

(Acts 28:8; James 5:16; 2 Chron. 7:14; Gen. 20:17) Praying for healing

  1. Create expectations of ownership and leadership amongst all church members

The church should be filled with people who prioritize their lives so that Jesus is number one, then family, then church. A sense of ownership but also a feeling that there is a responsibility that is important for spiritual growth. Common biblical metaphors for the church are the church is a body and the church is a temple. The idea being that there are many parts that make the whole and when one part is not well it affects the entirety. The failing body part needs to be healed or cut off from the body, the crumbling brick needs to be patched or replaced. It is easy to choose to be a part of the church and then to “mind your own business,” but the church is the business of everyone who makes up the church.

(1 Pet 2:5-7, Is 28:16, Eph 2:19-22) Church as a temple

(Rom 12:4-5, 1 Cor 10:17, Eph 4:12, Col 1:24) The church as a body.

  1. Inspire personal worship through larger corporate worship 

The personal worship of each member of the church is important and it is often a learned action. Being with others as they worship teaches and inspires our own worship. Through the act of worshiping as a whole, which is a virtue in itself, a person will learn how to worship by themselves. Worshiping corportaley should be a broad worship, Music being a key act, but also, prayer, reading, other arts, communion, and journaling should all be encouraged.

(Jn. 4:23-24; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:5-6) Spirit and Truth worship

(Romans 12:1; Luke 4:8; Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 10:31; Gal 1:10) Living Sacrifice Worship

(Ps. 100:3; Deut. 6:4; Ps 103:10; 1 Tim. 2:5; Ex. 20:5) Acknowledge the Lord as God

(Is. 29:13; Rom. 15:9-1; Ps. 145:2; Rom. 1:21; 1 Thess. 5:16) The Importance of Worship

  1. Experience personal growth of each member

Through the many acts of the church the goal is personal growth in members that leads to both numerical and spiritual growth in the church as a whole.

(1 Peter 2:2; Lk 2:46-47; Ps 119:105) Growth through the Reading of the Word

(Eph. 4:11-16; Lk 2:52; 2 Thess 1:3) Growth through Relationships

(Acts 2:47; Acts 5:14; Acts 11:24) Growth in Numbers

(Rom. 12:8; Mt. 6:4; Col 3:23; James 1:27) Growth in Giving

(1 Cor. 3:6-7; Col. 2:19; Is. 61:11; Jn 15:2,5) Growth in the Holy Spirit

  1. Experience church growth through personal relationships and the witness of salvation outside church gatherings

The goal of the church is to go out into the world and share the gospel. Leading people to Christ would hopefully happen outside church gatherings. Salvations that happen in church gatherings should be celebrated but there should be more outside of the church gathering. This happens only if church members are confident in Jesus and place the Great Commission as a priority in their lives.

(Matthew 28:19-20) The Great Commission

(Acts 2:47; Acts 5:14; Acts 11:24) Growth in Numbers

(Eph. 4:11-16; Lk 2:52; 2 Thess 1:3) Growth through Relationships

(Luke 5:27-29, Luke 10:38-40, Luke 19:5-7) A few times Jesus gathered in a person’s home.

(Acts 2:46, Col 4:15, Acts 12:12, Acts 16:40, Romans 16:3&5, Philemon 1-2) New Testament gatherings of the Church in people’s homes.

(Acts 2:47, Matthew 28:18-20, Titus 1:5) Church growth and multiplication.

Practical Steps

  1. Start Church on Scripture reading plan

The church should start a Bible reading plan that allows both freedom in reading but also a cohesion in the church

  1. Start Real Church Gatherings

Real Church Gatherings are the most important of the Church gatherings. If a person had to miss either Sunday morning or the Real Church Gathering they should miss the Sunday morning, though both are beneficial and recommended. A Real Church Gathering should include the actions of the Acts 2 Church as well as some other aspects.

  1. Sharing a meal
  2. Communion
  3. Prayer
  4. The Apostles’ teachings (The Scriptures)
  5. Reading scripture aloud
  6. Discussing scripture read 

A Real Church Gathering need not be longer than a couple of hours combining the meal and communion for half an hour praying, reading scripture and discussing for the last hour and a half. The Church may find that they want to extend the time spent together, or maybe there is alot of prayer needed and scripture is skipped once in a blue moon, this should be led by the Holy Spirit. If a group wants to rearrange the order of these 6 items they should do so. 

  1. Plant Real Church Gatherings and Church Leaders

Every Church member should have an expectation of growth and leadership and leaders should be preparing members to lead Real Church Gatherings (RCG) of their own. Planting a RCG happens in 6 steps

  1. RCG starts with 8-10 members with 1-2 members as hosts, 1-2 as gathering leaders, 1-2 as outreach coordinators and a prayer leader. (leader definitions and responsibilities are in the RCG Roles section).
  2. RCG members share the gospel and invite people to the gathering
  3. RCG doubles in size over the course of a year. (Yes, 52 gatherings).
  4. RCG members fast and pray with the rest of the church for guidance and blessing.
  5. RCG splits based on prayer and fasting to create two new RCGs.
  6. Leadership for new RCGs decided upon by leaders of old RCG and Spirit and Truth Pastors.
  7. Reduce Church events and increase outreach presence

Church events should be decreased to only Sunday morning and the RCGs. However, each RCG should be doing 2-4 outreaches a year that they decide on as a group and each church member should be encouraged to charity and the giving of time and money individually.

While a Sunday morning may have a Christmas or Easter focus they should not be considered special events and should not add significantly to leaders or members calendars. Unless, it is led by a RCG who has chosen to do an event.

Measurable Goals

  1. Double amount of RCGs every two years
  2. After six years goal should be to double the amount of RCGs every year
  3. Through surveys increase percentage of people who feel that they have ownership and leadership of Spirit and Truth
  4. Every four years increase giving both time and finances by 20% as a whole church.

Leadership Roles

  1. Host
    1. Will ensure a clean and welcoming place to Gather
    2. Will be in charge of food sign-ups
  2. Gathering Leader
    1. Will be in charge of scripture reading and guiding discussion
    2. Should be qualified (1 Tim. 3:8, Titus 1:7)
    3. Tasked with shepherding those in the RCG 
    4. Should know own limits and bring larger issues to Head Leadership
  3. Outreach Coordinator
    1. Work with RCG on coming up with 2-4 outreaches a year 
    2. Coordinate with pastors and leaders to make outreach happen
  4. Prayer Leader
    1. Will guide prayer time
    2. Should be qualified (1 Tim. 3:8, Titus 1:7)
    3. Should guide away from over complaining and gossip and keep things focused on a Kingdom mindset
    4. Should encourage all present to share
    5.  Keep a list of prayers for reference and for Sunday mornings

Outreaches: 

Outreaches should be things your group is interested in, capable of doing, and permitted by calendars; most importantly it should be something they believe the Holy Spirit is guiding them towards. Outreaches can be single events, they could be monthly events, they could be monetary giving, they could be outreach or evangelistic programs/studies/books that the group goes through. Figuring out outreaches takes imagination, discussion, prayer and fasting. Importantly the outreach coordinator should not allow “figuring out what to do” to stop the group from doing outreaches.

Examples: 

Single EventRecurring EventMonetary GivingEvangelistic programs…Other Ideas
Holiday EventProvide Date Night Child CareSalvation armyVacation Bible SchoolSocial Media outreach
Beautification ProjectSoup KitchenSupport a church or missionaryRead Learning Evangelism From JesusRandom acts of Kindness Challenge
Mission TripStorehouseSupport other RCGs outreachesDo a Walmart evangelism or door to doorFeed the firemen
Food DriveVolunteer tutoringSave to send kids to campTake charge of church visitors or write birthday and anniversary cards for the churchEach person join a club in the community and pray for Kingdom opportunity

Reading plan:

March 2022: Genesis

April 2022: Matthew, Galatians, and Hosea

May 2022: Exodus and Esther

June 2022: Hebrews, Leviticus

July 2022: Numbers, Amos and Jonah

August 2022: Luke and Nehemiah

September 2022: Deuteronomy and Daniel

October 2022: Acts and Ecclesiastes

November 2022: Joshua, Judges and Ruth

December 2022: Romans and Phillipians

January 2023: 1 & 2 Samuel and Obadiah

February 2023: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Song of Songs and Ezra

March 2023: 1 & 2 Kings

April 2023: 1 Chronicles, 1-3 John, and Ephesians

May 2023: 2 Chronicles, Lamentations, Joel, and Nahum

June 2023: Mark, Jude, Colossians, Philemon, James, and Malachi

July 2023: Job

August 2023: Ezekiel

September 2023: Isaiah

October 2023: Isaiah and 1 & 2 Thessalonians

November 2023: Jeremiah

December 2023: Jeremiah, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

January 2024: Revelation, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai and Zechariah

February 2024: John and 1 and 2 Peter

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