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Founder, House2House, a group that encourages the home church movement
Started House2House magazine with 2 other leaders of home church leaders in Texas (2001)
Helped found Caring Professions Concern, now Christians in the Caring Professions (CiCP), group working w/ doctors & nurses in UK to daily live in the power of the Holy Spirit
Both are physicians trained at the world famous Royal and Ancient Hospital of St. Bartholomew (a.k.a Barts) in London, England
WHAT IS A CHURCH?
Tony says the definition of the church is what Jesus said in the Bible, where 2 or 3 are gathered together, there is Jesus' in the midst of them. Tony also says the house church is any opportunity where people can come together where Jesus is at the center of everything, a community; not a fixed concept, like time and place – it is more fluid, and a life style. He encourages people to think of church like in the bible passage Acts 2:42 that says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
Tony and Felicity had a wonderful ministry with Christians in the Caring Professions (CiCP) in England. This ministry helped those in the medical field bring their faith into their professional lives. The Dales saw God bless this ministry. Then they felt God called them to move to Texas. In Texas they felt they moved from spiritual abundance in England, to a spiritual desert in Texas. They tried to fit into the traditional churches, but found they didn't. In retrospect they see that God was dealing with their character and giving them an insight into American church life. After a time, what the Dales thought God was going to do with them in America didn't seem to be happening. They gave God a deadline for something to happen and it did. They started having a Friday night group with about 12 people to discuss the Bible and their own home church began
WHO IS YOUR FINAL AUTHORITY?
With this model, like the New Testament church, the home churches have leadership, but no hierarchy system like in today's traditional church. The home church really lives by Christ being head of the church and the Holy Spirit is the safety. Since the home church consists of families, the leaders are the parents, who spiritually parent the children and for the most part, everyone is equal. There is also accountability to other home groups. The house churches aren't trying to get bigger, they are trying to multiply and plant other churches. This is different from a church cell group, because the cell group is trying to support and grow the larger church organization, where the house church is trying to plant more churches. For skeptics who wonder about the authority and accountability systems in home churches, Tony tells people to look at church history. Heresay usually came from the top and church growthand revival usually came from the bottom, the grassroots movements.
For those who say this approach is too simplistic, Tony says around the world these apparently simplistic churches are experiencing growth & power while the more academic approach to Christianity has become more powerless. According to the Barna Group, the latest study (6/19/2006) says that house church involvement is growing and 10 percent of the American population goes to home church, which is larger than the largest denominational church growth (S. Baptist convention). The study also shows that the house church in the last 10 years has grown 1000 percent.
For the skeptics, Dale says people have to look at the larger context – grassroots movements usually spark revival and renewal in the church. An example of this is when Rolland and Heidi Baker went to Mozambique in 2000. They saw the results of this church group firsthand. They were doing medical relief work and saw 100 people get saved in a day, virtually everyone who came for medical help. Everyday they would see a new church planted.
Recently, for the last 18 months they have been working in various countries. They've worked with a ministry that has seen hundreds of thousands people get saved – thousands of churches planted. He says there's been 5,000 churches planted in Africa. Also, in India, in the last eight years, 50, 000 churches have been planted.
Lay people can start churches in their own homes. Tony says if God is telling you to do something, you don't need man's permission. There's a getting started manual and DVD for over six-week period. There are huge numbers of groups getting started and many people resources and coaching available.
For more information, go to their web site: www.house2house.com
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.