Since announcing the launch of The Crowded House Network in December and then officially launching in January, we have received all kinds of encouragement and support. We have also received numerous questions about what this network is, what we do, and what we believe. We wanted to create a quick place for some of these questions to be answered and allow people to ask us questions. Here are the three questions we get asked most often with the simplest of answers:
Q1: Is The Crowded House a Church?
Q2: Is The Crowded House a Mission?
Q3: Am I welcome at The Crowded House?
The Crowded House is a Church
The Crowded House is a church in every sense of the word. We are a community of people who follow Jesus together. We reflect the nature of God to each other and the world. We join God on mission in our various communities. We participate in the practices of the church often called the sacraments. With all of this in mind, we believe that we are becoming a physical or tangible manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. So yes, we are a church.
We are a unique church in that we do not have a centralized gathering place. We do not own a building or have a campus. We meet in homes, cafes, bars, and parks. We believe this helps us compliment institutional/building-centric churches. We are not acting in rebellion to institutional forms of church. We simply offer a different expression of the church.
The Crowded House is a Mission
The Crowded House is a church that is on mission. This does not mean we latch on to the social justice cause of the day. This does not mean that we volunteer at local soup kitchens (though we might). When we describe ourselves as a mission, we mean that we exist for the other – whoever that might be. Everything we do, from discussing Scripture to pool side cookouts, is done with the other in mind. Our practices require us to extend outside of our homes and neighborhoods revealing the lordship and presence of Christ to a watching the world.
We believe that our God is a missionary God. He sends himself to, is present with, and offers hospitality to all. As a church, we do the same. This means our ecclesiology (theology of the church) and our missiology (understanding of mission) blend together into a singular belief marked by similar practices.
The Crowded House Welcomes All
I remember when the first house church launched that is now part of The Crowded House. It was almost three years ago in a living room in Sanford, Florida. I looked around the room and there was a 3-year-old sitting with a 32-year-old. There were multiple ethnicities and races. The women outnumbered the men, and the women had equal authority and influence. The economic spectrum of the group included people on government assistance to soon to be millionaires. There were conservative Christians, progressive Christians, Catholics, and Charismatics. There were people who didn’t know Jesus and didn’t know if they believed God existed at all.
Since our beginnings we have committed to practicing radical hospitality and inclusion. This has not been easy. We have had many tense conversations about what we believe, what we practice, and where we are going. However, at the end of the night or week, we welcome all back into our living rooms and tables. We believe that the Gospel is bigger than our differences. In fact, we believe the Gospel is bigger and fuller BECAUSE of our differences. We will never be a church or mission in which all participants believe the same things or act the same way. For us, this tension creates a strength that we are happy to embrace. It is often uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Stumbling Toward Jesus Together
The Crowded House is a network of churches and gatherings that are stumbling toward Jesus together. We are a church that is clumsy, messy, and hard to define.
What keeps us together?
Our commitment to be a spiritual family that by the very act of gathering together in homes, cafes, and parks reveals the lordship of Jesus to a watching world.
The Crowded house is spiritual family on mission together, extending the presence of Christ from one table to the next.
Let us know your thoughts and ask us questions by commenting on this blog!