Having a Life-Giving Household


(Part 130)


July 24, 2015

Households are small pastoral groupings of members. They are essential to the life and mission of our CFC-FFL community. They are where members are cared for, and where members are helped to grow in the Lord.

A household is led by a servant leader assigned to it. However, every member of the household needs to take responsibility for the good conduct of the household, and help ensure that it becomes life-giving for everyone. If there is anything amiss, household members should speak up and discuss the problem, and together, under the direction of the leader, take steps to change the situation. The leader, being a servant, must be open and even desirous of such inputs, as a way of ensuring that the household members themselves find the household life-giving.

What makes for a life-giving household? First are the technical aspects.

(1)   It must be regular. Household meetings are never cancelled, unless getting to the meeting becomes physically impossible, such as in the case of flooding. It must be held at the same time and day of the week, so that household members can put household meetings for the whole year in their calendars, and protect that time.[1]

(2)   It must start on time. There is an arrival time, and there is a starting time, about 15 to 30 minutes after. Members should strive to be at the meeting venue at the arrival time. This gives some leeway to unexpected traffic.[2] If one arrives early, then all the better, so that there is some settling in and fellowship time. One does not arrive and immediately jump into the worship portion. The meeting should start on time at the agreed-on starting time even if not everyone has arrived.[3]

(3)   It must have the three basic ingredients: worship, discussion/sharing and fellowship. [4] It must follow the prescribed times for each aspect. Worship is about 30 minutes, discussion/sharing is for one hour, fellowship is for 30 minutes to an hour. Overall it should be from two to three hours.

(4)   It must NOT become a service meeting.[5] There are other designated times for service meetings.[6]

(5) It must end on time, and not too late in the evening (if it is on an evening). [7] A household meeting certainly should not spill over into the next day (that is, after midnight). [8]

In all the above, the household leader must be the one to ensure these happen. Members who violate the above must be reminded and exhorted to do better. If they continue to do so, they must be corrected more forcefully.

Secondly, what makes for a life-giving household is the fraternal aspect. The household members are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are journeying together along the path of Christ, which is the way of holiness. They have a responsibility, as they themselves grow in the Lord, to help the others grow as well.[9]

A relationship as brethren in Christ can mean a number of things.

(1)   It is a relationship of love. Household members are to love each other as Christ has loved them.

(2)   There is fraternal correction. Such is not just left to the household leader, but everyone else has the responsibility to correct whatever is amiss.

(3)   It is a relationship of friendship. Household members should desire to grow in their friendships and to the ties that bind. It should be such that they look forward to being together for the household meeting, and eagerly anticipate it.

(4)   It is a relationship of loyalty. Household members guard their hearts from anger, resentment or the like. If there is any personal problem, it is resolved quickly.

(5)   It is a relationship of trust. Household members trust each other enough to become vulnerable, such that they can openly share their lives, especially their challenges and shortcomings. [10] The principle of confidentiality is to be strictly observed.[11]

Thirdly, what makes for a life-giving household is the pastoral aspect. We have households so that we will grow in the Lord. The household, normally being held in the church that is the home, is a school of spirituality.

Thus a number of elements are important.

(1)   Worship should be alive and vibrant. Household members must participate actively in the singing and the prayers. They should be open to receiving and sharing words from the Lord. They must have the faith to know that they are in the presence of Jesus, and accord him the praise and worship that is his due. Worship must have the basic ingredients of songs,[12] words from the Lord,[13] and individual prayers of thanksgiving and petition.[14]

(2) There should be serious discussion and sharing. Normally the men meet separately from the women.[15]

(a)   For the first year, the discussions follow a specific track, based on the teaching courses that are taken up.

(b)   For the succeeding years, there is flexibility as to content. It can be Bible sharing,[16] personal sharing, or discussion of a particular topic.

(c)   For discussion of topics, there are many resources available in the Church. In particular, the books and writings of the Servant General [17] provide a lot of topics that can be taken up.

(3) The household leader must strive to be a true servant leader. [18]

Finally, since the household meeting is basically a spiritual activity, there is the needed spiritual preparation. All members of the household, especially the leader, should spend some time, before arriving at the household venue, praying to God about the meeting.

(1) Ask God to bind any spirits that are not of Him, and to send His angels to stand guard along your way and over the venue.

(2) Ask for wisdom and discernment.

(3) Be sensitive to whatever words (prophecy or inspired scripture reading) the Lord might want you to share with the others.

(4) Ask for the grace by which every member of the household will be joyful and loving.

There are many life-giving elements in community. There is our personal prayer and Bible reading. There are the many teachings, formation tracks, and leaders training. There are the assemblies and other activities. But the household is unique in that the receivers are also the givers, and vice versa. The household is thus the basic cell of community – for formation, for fraternal relationships, for moving the whole community forward.
*     *     *

Note: This paper should be taken up for discussion in all households. Then agree to work at the elements outlined above. Then look forward to truly life-giving households.

[1] If there is a good reason, the household meeting date can be moved, but enough time notice should be given to members.
[2] When someone is late, he often says it is because of the traffic. Indeed there was traffic, but if you ask him what time he left his home, you will see that he did not leave early enough, especially in anticipation of traffic.
[3] It is possible to wait some more minutes, but not too long, perhaps just 5 or 10 minutes.
[4] Unless the whole household meeting is just a time for fellowship, which normally happens once a quarter, that is, whenever there is a fifth day of the week in the month.
[5] If there is an urgent need, the fellowship portion can be turned into a service meeting.
[6] In fact, the household members are not necessarily engaged in the same service. Further, spouses are not part of the service meeting, unless they themselves are also doing that particular service.
[7] For example, 7pm to 10pm. If members can meet earlier and end earlier, all the better.
[8] When it is already the time of fellowship, those who need to leave earlier than the rest should feel free to do so.
[9] While the household leader is the basic pastor, every member, sharing in the priestly ministry of Christ, helps minister to everyone else.
[10] It is not necessary to bare all secrets.
[11] What is shared in the household should not be shared with others outside the household, unless what was shared was a positive happening.
[12] Three songs, with two fast songs followed by praising and then a worship song followed by singing in tongues.
[13] Prophecy and/or inspired scripture verses.
[14] Every member should be encouraged to say at least one prayer.
[15] This is very important. Only in rare times should the men meet together with the women for this portion (worship is of course done all together). This is basically so that the men will grow together as men of God, and the women as women of God. Men and women have different needs, and different dynamics in relationships. Further, this allows them to take up different topics for discussion and sharing.
[16] Using the Liturgical Bible Study (LBS) method.
[17] All members with email should receive the From the Servant General articles. The territorial areas should arrange for these articles to be passed on down the line to each member.
[18] Let your other “bible” be the book Servant Leadership.

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