"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
— Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV
It has been six months since the lockdown began in Manila and to this day churches have not been allowed to operate fully. Restrictions on mass gatherings have severely crippled what we call “corporate churches” or churches that manages the ministry like a corporation, with paid pastors, board of elders, and facilities (rented or owned). For months we cried out to God to intervene so that we can go back to the way we used to do worship, but what if God has a new agenda for his church?
A few months ago we reported that our house church network has grown from 0 to 50 house churches. Today, we already have 85 house church groups under our Simbahay House Church Network. (The word "Simbahay" is a play of words which means house church. Simbahan is Filipino for Church; Bahay is for House). One young person came to know the Lord just a little more than month ago and in just two weeks, this young believer started her own Simbahay group.
If you think this is amazing, see what the Philippine government is promoting. This poster is advocating that Filipinos should make their homes into a church.
“Bawat tahanan sambahan,” means each home is a church and “Bawat pamilya may kapila,” means each family should have a chapel.
Although we have much apprehension about this government initiative and we have yet to know their agenda, what is clear is that the house church model is fast becoming an alternative form of church ministry.
If the church, at least in our part of the world, is beginning to move toward this direction then missionaries, missiologists, and theologians need to be a step ahead of these developments. This is the reason why we have begun working on the following:
- Produce resources on basic discipleship curriculums and practical guides for leading house churches that are friendly to lay leaders. Jason has produced resources on How to Conduct the Lord’s Supper at Home and How to Lead Family Worship. Currently, his book titled, “Leading the Church in Turbulent Times”, is being edited by Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM Publishing). We hope to see this printed soon.
- Create support groups for pastoral leaders adjusting to the house church model and for new lay leaders handling house church ministries. Many pastors and believers will encounter a paradigm shift in ministry and this is often confusing and disconcerting to some. Jason oversees a bi-monthly meeting of house church leaders while Donna meets weekly with pastor’s wives.
- Offer webinars that provide a good overview of the house church ministry. Please pray for Jason. He will be giving a webinar titled Leading the Church in Turbulent Times on September 19, 2020. This webinar is meant to introduce the house church model concept to pastors. However, he continues to struggle with his voice.
- Resist the temptation to control and manage the movement. This last one is very important because the surest way to kill a movement is to control it.
In light of these developments, we seek your support and prayer as our partners in ministry. Together, we hope to keep our momentum going ahead of what is happening on the ground.
We thank God every time we remember you in our prayers. You are our partners in serving God, and it is both a joy and privilege for us to pray for you as well.
Please do let us know how we can pray for you!
Jason and Donna Tan
- Related stories from Jason:
- Dr. Jason Richard Tan serves on the A2/Philippines leadership team. He is the father of Joshua and Elisha, and the husband of Donna. He is also the author of Man Up: 21 Lessons Every Man Needs to Know About Manhood. Dr. Tan has had over 10 years of full-time pastoral experience with the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (CAMACOP) and is currently the president of Great Commission Missionary Training Center in Antipolo City.