Why We Are Here

The purpose of Streams in the Desert House Church Network is TRANSFORMATION! This happens through outreach - transforming those that do not yet know Jesus into those that do know him, and discipleship - transforming those that do know Jesus into those that follow Jesus. 

Additionally, our fellowship, this house church network, is focused on the de-churched among us. These are people that love God but no longer feel attached or committed to the traditional, institutional church. There are large numbers of people that have found themselves in this category through no intentional effort of their own. We are finding that many of these de-churched people still want to be connected to God and to his people in meaningful ways. You may be one of those people - if so…welcome home!

Our fellowship is focused on all parts of this mandate of TRANSFORMATION through five critical and interconnected components - prayer, reading (the Bible), giving, going, and multiplying.

Prayer - Distinctive #1

The first component is PRAYER in all of its different forms. Prayer should never be a guilt inducing chore but a freedom inducing process of experiencing the presence of God. If you feel guilty or dissatisfied about your prayer life then you are missing the point. Sometimes it is helpful to have a list of items to pray for, I use my list at different times in my prayer experience. And at other times, times while I am just steeping in the presence of God, simply resting in his presence, I trust him to know the things that are on my list and to continue working in each situation. (I always pray for my wife and kids!) The important thing is to dedicate some amount of time to knowing God through prayer each day. It is good to develop a habit with a regular time of prayer... especially if that is the way your personality works. The issue is to know yourself and how you best experience God. Now, to be honest, there is a sense of self-discipline in this matter but self-discipline is radically different than legalism, which is a routine or effort that is put on you by someone else. In the area of self-discipline, when we do not accomplish our goals, we are disappointed. When we are functioning in legalism, when we do not accomplish our goals, we feel guilty. Revelation 12:10 in Today’s New International Version says that Satan is the accuser of the brothers and sisters. Guilt is from the enemy (Satan) not from God.

In our fellowship we use 3x5 cards for our prayer time. Each individual writes a succinct, personal prayer request that is read to the group and is then prayed for by someone that desires to pray for that request. This is sometimes done in small groups within the house church meeting and other times it is done with the whole group. The cards are then collected and prayerfully handed, one card to each person in the group. That card becomes that individual's prayer commitment for the week. Throughout the week each individual prays for the person whose card they received and the request written on the card, asking God to minister in that situation AND asking that he would give them a prophetic word, an image / picture, or an impression for the person for whom they are praying. That prophetic word is then shared with the individual and with the group in the next weekly meeting. This builds faith in both individuals as well as the group. This builds understanding and confidence that God actually speaks to us!

Additionally, our goal is to have the individuals in our fellowship pray for the salvation of the world and for the salvation of their world. One suggestion for praying for the world is to go to Operation World's web site - http://www.operationworld.org/prayer-calendar. Operation World has a prayer calendar with a daily prayer focus for different nations around the world. The site gives basic demographic information, religious demographic information, and then a suggestion for how to pray for the salvation of that nation. We also want everyone to pray for the salvation of their world. We want each individual to identify two or three people in their world that do not yet know Jesus. We then want each weekly prayer partner to pray specifically for the two or three individuals written on their prayer commitment card. In time we will be looking for a way to bring these people before our whole group for corporate prayer. We feel that these daily prayer efforts - for one person in our fellowship, for the world, and for our individual world - our two or three friends that do not yet know Jesus – are critical efforts in our discipleship journey that we at Streams are taking together.

Reading - Distinctive #2

The second component is READING the Word of God each week. The Word is life to the followers of Christ (see John chapter 1). Our goal at Streams is that we each will read the Bible, study the Bible, and expect God to speak to us about the Bible and through the Bible to our very life, to our soul...every day. Gone are the days where a professional will read the Bible and tell us what it means for our lives. 

The first step in our approach to the Bible is to announce ahead of time (at the end of the weekly gathering) the passage for the week, usually 10-12 verses. The plan is that everyone will read those 10-12 verses every day (at least four or five of the seven days each week), expecting God to speak to him or her about the scriptures that they are reading and how they apply to their lives. After this we will gather at our weekly meeting and share with the group what God revealed to us, individually, about the passage.

The "teacher" for the week will facilitate this discussion presenting additional points that may not have yet arisen in the discussion. The goal of this exercise is not to know about God or about the Bible but to be impacted by the Bible, to know God, and to hear what God would speak to us through the reading of his word. The main effort of the "teacher" for the week will be in the selection of the passage to be read by the group. This task will be approached with much prayer, as it is the direction of the entire group for the whole week. 

Giving - Distinctive #3

The third component is GIVING. This is a very hot topic for many de-churched people. Often times the de-churched feel that an inordinate amount of time is made in a self-serving effort by the traditional, institutional church to grab their money. At Streams we strongly believe in giving of our time and our resources. Additionally we value the concept of the tithe in regards to our resources using ten percent as a good guide from which to start. As my friend Tim Harrison has often said you can tell what someone's priorities in life are by looking at their calendar and their checkbook (for the younger readers, a checkbook is an historical collection of documents called checks that used to function similar to your Google Wallet - see...you learn something every day!).

That said, we at Streams don't agree that the church is the focal point of that tithe. There is a scripture in he Old Testament (Malachi 3:10) that says to bring the tithe into the storehouse. The institutional church has said that they are the storehouse. First, we do not believe that the church is a storehouse of God’s resources...if anything it is a conduit. Second, the area of finances is one in which the Old Testament does not necessarily inform the practices of the New Testament. At Streams we believe that any giving in the name of The Lord is giving to God...is a part of one's tithe. This includes any number of faith-based social justice or humanitarian organizations in the world. It also would include giving money someone on their street.

Additionally, at Streams we do not believe in the concept of giving to get...this is an Old Testament concept. Jesus seems to suggest that we just give…his instructions were that we be gracious. In this vein, it is not our plan to give tax receipts for any monies that may be given to the fellowship for special projects or efforts. This is giving to get and is not consistent with the values of this fellowship. We are not even sure if we will create a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation or have a bank account. This may change as the network grows but this is not the current plan.

Going - Distinctive #4

The fourth component is GOING. This component is found in a critical passage in the Bible – Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission. This verse has been interpreted by saying that the command is to GO! In truth the "going" is an assumption of how one would function in one's daily life... as you are going, not necessarily a command to pick up and go. There is a command in this passage of scripture, that command is 1) to make disciples; 2) to baptize those disciples; and 3) to teach those disciples. This is the core of the going component at Streams. This going includes going across the hall AND around the world.

The component of going is closely tied to the component of giving. We have identified five areas of giving / going for our fellowship. The first area is going to the people in each one’s own house church. This will include financial assistance if needed or physical assistance as opportunities arise. The second area is people that we know or become aware of outside of our house church. This would include people that may already know Christ or that do not yet know him. Again the giving of financial assistance or physical assistance would be included here. The third area is local faith-based ministries. This would include giving money to a local ministry such as Our Daily Bread or going down to their site to volunteer our time. Similar to this is national faith-based ministries like SF City Impact in San Francisco or the Dream Center in Los Angeles (the fourth area of giving / going). This idea is to support a national ministry financially and, at some point, to take a trip to their locale volunteering our time for a week or so. Finally is the area of global faith-based ministries. This would be similar to the national ministries except that these ministries would be located around the world. Again, we would send money or take a trip to volunteer in some locale around the world. An example of a global ministry is Water Wells for Africa

Bottom line, going involves investing our time and resources to help meet the needs of others, being God's loving hands to a lost and dying world, either across the hall or around the world.

Multiplying - Distinctive #5

The final component is that our fellowship be a MULTIPLYING fellowship. This is a part of the outreach value of this fellowship. 

In the traditional, institutional church world being a multiplying fellowship is difficult because, typically, each new fellowship needs to be lead by a paid professional in a special building. A key component in house churches is that the fellowship does not need to be led by professional ministers, people that other people have deemed to be worthy of the role of leader with the expectation that others would be followers. In the house church world there are leaders but they are typically called elders or spiritual mothers and spiritual fathers. These are people that God has deemed worthy of the role of leader. Not only does God deem these people to be worthy of the role of leaders by raising them up in the fellowship, he has called them, formed them, and anointed them to fulfill this role. In reality, each one of us is a candidate for such a role depending on God's calling or anointing on our lives. I look forward to the time that God might raise up a thirteen year old student to be a spiritual father or mother to a group of their school friends. Additionally, house churches do not need a special building…most of us already have a house, an apartment, a room at work, or a some kind of acceptable location to gather together.

Embracing this concept is the first step to being a multiplying fellowship...that God would speak to different individuals, placing a desire, a call, on their lives to assist other followers of Jesus in their journey of faith. As God raises these people up, and we are praying that he will do this, we will believe that he will also gather a new group of people to surround around these spiritual parents to form a new house church plant. This group will remain as connected to the Streams in the Desert House Church Network as they desire. Our commitment will be to support this new church in any way that we can. 

Part of that support will be to gather all of the house church in the network on a regular basis - possibly monthly but at least quarterly. While the purpose of each house church will be for fellowship and discipleship, the purpose of the larger gathering will be for celebration and vision casting. 

This is a quick snapshot of the purpose, values, and ways of the Streams in the Desert House Church Network. It is our hope that you would prayerfully seek God, asking if this might be a new home for you. We hope that it is! Please contact me at dave@davepowell.me for more information.

© Dave Powell 2014