Church as the Gathered

Here in the West, we think of church as “gathered.” No doubt, you must gather to accomplish some of the “one anothers” and other functions of church (as the body of Christ). But what we generally fail to recognize is how much our cultural individuality impacts how we understand “gathered.” We often overlook the household language of scripture.

The gospel was planted into existing households.

Church was not primarily isolated believers who come together to act like a quasi-family. The gospel took root in the families, friends and employees that were 1st Century Roman households. It is not that church took the household structure.

Because we start from an individualistic bias, we miss this. Because we start from an individualistic bias, our strategies and tactics are often damaging to households, and thus extractional. Yes, there are times when some members of a family will come to trust in Jesus and others will reject them because of that, but Disciple Making Movements want that whole household to hear the gospel, interact with the gospel and not make their decision just because they incorrectly view the gospel as a Western oppressive intrusion.

This is why we evaluate our approaches to insure that they can be reproduced within any existing culture that highly values close-knit, multi-generational families. This is why we work to disciple the whole household to faith. The last thing we want is for the household to feel like Christian families do when one of their children converts to the Moonies or another cult–“they kidnapped and brain-washed” her/him.

Too much of the church planting talk is about gathering unconnected individuals and trying to get them to act like family. Real movements come when the gospel is being planted into existing family/friendship structures where people are discipled to trust and obey Jesus.

[NOTE: I originally wrote this as a comment on an article by Felicity Dale ( She moved it and a couple of other comments to her main page and there has been some interesting dialogue there. I decided to re-post it here on my site so that my networks could interact with it, also. You probably ought to check out the other dialogue.]


    1. Jim, I am collaborating with David Broodryk in this Urban DMM project, so I am honored to send my readers to his web site. If you read through the 198 articles on my blog site you will find many that will prove relevant to urban settings. In actuality, there are no totally Urban movements, yet. Many of us keep praying for wisdom from above to reach the threshold of 100 churches, four generations deep in a 2-3 year time frame among 3-4 generation city dwellers. To see rapidly replicating movements in Hong Kong, Mexico City, Shanghai, etc. will require much cooperation and collaboration and an overcoming of competitive spirit that has infected too many people. Thanks for contributing to the dialogue!


      1. Will you be at the North American DMM conference April 2 – 5 in Kansas City (Pleasant Valley)? I look forward to meeting you there. Registration is at:

        Or you can find the link at:

        FYI, I am starting to experiment with some of David’s “midsized-gatherings.” How do you utilized Discovery Groups (DG) within a gathering structure? I have been partially using this “gathering” concept in my training for some time, but was not doing it intentionally. I liked what I saw when I used it with the Ugandans that I trained on Wednesday and will try to use a similar model with the missionaries here Jinja in their house church on Sunday. If you are interested I can keep you and your readers on the results.

      2. I have them do an oral Discovery time with a full group debrief in lieu of a sermon as their means of hearing from God.

        Yes, keep us informed. I do intend to be in Kansas City. Will look forward to meeting you there.

  1. Right on. One focus of training and equipping, as found in Eph. 4, would be to focus on making each household an outpost of the Kingdom that reaches into the community, provides a place of refuge and healing, and is picture or preview of the coming Kingdom.


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