The Church That Sacrificed Itself For The Nations
In Baptist circles, church anniversaries are celebrated with a large homecoming, fellowship, stories, and a potluck to die for. But every once in a while, it is a church funeral that pleases the heart of Christ.
I want to tell you the story of a rare assembly of devoted Christians that reached the finish line before they could celebrate their 7th anniversary. Still, the impact of this little church reverberated over at least eight countries and bore fruit multiplying 100-fold.
First, let us establish that this was no ordinary church. Well, it would have been ordinary in the first century because they met in a home, shared a weekly meal together, had no leadership hierarchy, and were spirit led in their worship style and order of service. They didn’t fit the mold of the evangelical brick-and-mortar churches that populate every street corner in the south.
They did things differently. Not because they were rebels and hated traditional churches, but because they loved the simplicity of the first-century church we read about in the New Testament. Additionally, they wanted to be a mobile force for the kingdom that could multiply, relocate and even disband if the Lord commanded them to do so. In fact, that is precisely what happened.
This little church was started in 2005 by the Brady* family in their home in South Fort Worth. It was part of a more extensive network of house churches in the DFW area. At the peak, there were seven churches in the City on a Hill Connection. They started these churches to provide a community for believers who could not meet on Sundays because of work. The little church in South Fort Worth had no fancy name (just The Way), and there were no bylaws or committees. They were simply unified by a love of Jesus and His church, plus a Christian desire to serve.
Multiple families and several singles worshiped together with this close-knit spiritual family. It was indeed a beautiful body of believers. We crossed paths with “the little church that could” back in 2009 while we were home in Texas on our missionary furlough. We met with them for three months before returning to South America.
Their meetings looked different every time they gathered, but there were common themes that replayed most weeks. An abiding love for Gods Word, a desire to obey Jesus’ commands, and a passion for providing hope to the lost and hurting led them into evangelism. A commitment to pray for the harvest fields both in America and abroad drove them to their knees in supplication, but ultimately, the “demise” of this church was its willingness to die for the sake of the Gospel.
Their mustard seed ecclesiology believed that multiplication and obedience were higher callings than longevity.
In fact, this little church didn’t survive long. It flamed out in less than seven years. But it died in the most beautiful and biblical of ways. 80% of its members packed up their lives and moved to the mission field. In fact, the little south Fort Worth church didn’t really die at all, at least not in the eternal sense. The seeds of the church were obediently planted, only to sprout and germinate as new house churches both in America and on foreign soil. This little church bore so much fruit that even after hours of research, I couldn’t track it down all the fruit.
Two families went to South Asia, One to Colombia, and another went to Turkey. We went back to Peru and later to Uganda. Then later, two other families went to The Dominican Republic and Kenya.
The only church members who did not move overseas were the Fino family, and they sent two of their daughters to the mission field as they maintained a posture of prayer and support.
Overall, the shift in “The Way” resulted in hundreds of new believers and scores of churches. God has done mighty things because of this church’s sacrifice and I think there is a lesson here to be learned.
Things are not always what they seem on the outside. Detractors of house church ideology might say they are short-lived and flame out. They may prefer a more western style of ecclesiology.
But from an insider’s perspective, this church didn’t burn out and die. It was a seed pod that exploded and perpetuated the kingdom into exceedingly dark places worldwide. In fact, these are the very kind of New Testament Churches that go on to change the world.
*name changed for security reasons