Focus on home, not headquarters
Mary Pride rightly teaches that religious people are wrong to focus on headquarters and big buildings. They should witness from their home. She says men have overlooked the power of women in fulfilling their role as described in Titus 2:3-5. They could be the most powerful ministry on earth. She says a woman can "create a gracious home for her family" and use it "for a wider flock. She knows the Bible and how to answer serious questions. She knows how to create a warm and loving atmosphere and is sensitive to people's needs in the way only a mother learns to be. She has, in short, been trained to be an evangelist." I remember seeing other books at the Christian book store near me that had a whole section on Christian women witnessing. I remember two titles that stood out. One was No More Lone Ranger Moms and another was titled Titus 2 Ministry. Instead of depending on Father being a superman to witness for us by persuading big shot leaders in this world to send their followers to be blessed and knowing nothing of three day ceremonies, let's become super families to attract many people with heavenly hospitality. As Mrs. Pride says then "Instead of fishing for souls with a pole, bent paperclip, and worm, you can start scooping them in with a net!"
She mentions several books as guides on how to accomplish this. The first is by Alvin Jennings called How Christianity Grows in the City. Mary Pride says he teaches that we should "readopt the New Testament scheme of using the homes of qualified church members for basic work of the church, with occasional large-group meetings in rented facilities." Another book she mentions is House Churches Among the Churches of Christ During the 1980s. One example from the book was a church in Lexington, Massachusetts: "Set up as a 'normal' church, in 1979 it had shrunk to forty members. In six years after adopting a format increasingly reliant upon home churches, it had increased to 1800 members and was renting the Boston Opera House for congretional meetings." I like this idea. Why bother with church buildings?
Another book on witnessing is The World at Your Doorstep: A Handbook for International Student Ministry by Lawson Lau "that shows how your family can have an international ministry outreach -- all from your living room! As The World at Your Doorstep points out, international students are much easier to reach than overseas non-Christians. They speak English, are here in our climate wearing our type of clothes and eating mostly our type of food. They appreciate your friendship and hospitality all the more, being cut off from their own families. And as the book says, 'It is rare to find any of them who do not love children.'"
"Your warm family life is your greatest asset in dealing with these students, according to those who have this ministry. International students are not searching for 'programs' to attend in a building, but for a family to belong to." Different couples tell their story of this ministry. Les and Penny Gioja of Illinois say, "Statistically, 80 to 90 percent of the international students in the United States never see the inside of an American home. They frequently have no friends here and greatly desire companionship. Many are also very interested in learning all they can about Jesus and Christianity. So the need is great." They go on to explain they have made friends with the International Student Affairs Officer at their campus. If a student is coming in after hours he calls them and they pick the student up "at the airport and take them to our house for the night or the weekend."
"Meals are nothing special, unless the student makes them; we just set out an extra plate whether it's lasagna or leftovers. We just share what we have and they really appreciate it." They make friends. Help them move. The students love simple things like weddings or painting the house. This couple has witnessed to 150 students, and some have become Christians and those others went back to their country feeling good about Christianity and America. Mary Pride says, "Church growth is not the job of some superman of a pastor, or of the visitation teams alone. As I see the Scriptures [we have the Home Church book], much church growth is supposed to come through quiet discussions over a cup of coffee. ... Husband and wife combine their talents of teaching, parenting, and home management to surround the visitor with the evidence of the power of God."
She tells the story of a couple who built a world-wide ministry from their home, "The most widely-known example of this kind of team, where both husband and wife played an equally important part, is in the ministry of L'Abri. The work of Dr. and Mrs. Francis Schaeffer has become internationally known, not because of any publicity-seeking on the Schaeffers' part, but because of the unending stream of converts from their house to all parts of the earth." They grew by word of mouth and others duplicated them in other countries. Mrs. Pride says a friend of hers visited L'Abri and told her that "as many people were brought to the Lord through Mrs. Schaeffer's cinnamon buns as through Dr. Schaeffer's sermons!"
Dr. Brenda Hunter writes in Home by Choice how she was healed at a L'Abri. She says, "A friend sent me a book by Edith Schaeffer called L'Abri. L'Abri, which means 'shelter' in French, is an account of the Schaeffers' desire to offer spiritual shelter to" people who came to their home. She quit her job and flew to live in a L'Abri community in England. She writes that she and her children "were nestled in a caring community that was affiliated with L'Abri Fellowship, in Ealing, London, and I had what every mother at home needs daily: emotional support from other women. Two mothers of older children took the three of us under their wings. As Katie and Judy nurtured me, I was in turn able to nurture my daughters. No longer trapped alone in a suburban house, no longer living the frantic life of the employed mother." She eventually left after being healed and now has a book that everyone should read on why mothers should stay home.
Mrs. Pride says women shouldn't have titles but work intimately in the background: "Those agitating for ordination for women are throwing away with both hands the biggest ministry we could ever have in favor of a mere second-rate shadow. Two Dr. Schaeffers would not have been nearly as appealing as one Dr. and one Mrs." Wellesley college protested Barbara Bush for speaking at their college because she focused on her M.R.S. degree. I hope the UC can have the ears to hear God speaking through such people as Mrs. Pride when she encourages women "to consciously do what God gave Mrs. Schaeffer by accident. Be a homeworker. Work to build up your husband, and help him attain an elder's qualities. Exercise hospitality. Serve people in your home. Be creative. Worship and praise the Lord, first with your family, then with others the Lord will bring .... What a day it will be when all God's women return to homeworking and every wife has a church in her home." And what a day it will be when all God's men return to being Godly patriarchs in the home and in the state.
Your house is better than mine
This chapter is about witnessing. We witness to people so they can hear the truth. They must also see some of that truth in us. Blessed couples should witness by showing superior families. Father says, "Now is the age of family salvation. We should restore the family; there's no better witnessing than that. A couple should pray in tears holding the children's hands at break of day, so that the children sing songs of yearning for their parents when they are away from home." Father teaches us to witness by creating the most loving families so that when someone visits they don't want to leave: "You have to make them say, 'Your house is better than mine. This meal is more delicious than at my house. Can I stay here one more night?' When you make your house a place where every guest or friend wants to come and live, even abandoning their own families, you have the Kingdom of Heaven of a family." Father is not into titles; he's into results. God's ultimate power is in exemplary UC families that will overcome Satan's power and usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let's build the greatest home churches and the greatest communities the world has ever seen. Let's start winning in America.