I find myself falling into the trap of putting too much focus on the church as a gathering and forgetting that the church, in its fullness, is more about going and being than about gathering.
Yes, the church gathers to fellowship, break bread, and pray. But there is much more written in Scripture about the church going and being than gathering...
"the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people..." (Acts 5:12)
"Stephen... performed amazing miracles and signs among the people..." (6:8)
"But the believers who had fled Jerusalem went everywhere preaching the Good News about Jesus." (8:4)
"Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah." (8:5)
"As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, 'Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.' So he did, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia..." (8:26-27)
"Meanwhile, the believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the Good News..." (11:19)
"Sent out by the Holy Spirit, Saul and Barnabas went..."
I think the point is made: we are not just a group of people that gathers. Who we are is much more than that. We are a group of people, with power from above, who take the message of God's Kingdom and love everywhere that we go because that life and power is with us and in us. He is where we go!
This is important because we still are in an identity crisis as a church. We define who we are incorrectly. We are still defining ourselves as "church" by how we do church "meetings": "house church," emrging church," etc. In doing this we are placing, still, a lot of focus on the gathering, where we gather, and what we do when we gather. This continues to cause us to mis-identify who we really are: Spirit-empowered believers who collectively and individually carry the presence of Christ into our world.
I need to continually remind myself that the church is a people-movement, a Holy Spirit infused and led avalanche of God's people going and being sent, with His Spirit, into a world that needs His life.
My friend Tammy recently grasped this while participating in one of our house church gatherings. She suddenly felt stifled, smothered, and uncomfortable. She began reflecting on all of the people "out there" who need the life that Jesus Christ has for them. She has been "attending" a house church for a little while, but the light suddenly dawned: it's not about a different type of church, it's about going out there and being the church. She caught the vision of finding a lonely woman on a park bench and taking church to that woman; being led to a homeless person and taking church to that person; asking God to lead her to wherever it is that He wants her to go and be the church there.
Yes, yes, and yes. This is what I so hope people will grasp. We are not seeking to just set up a different way to "do" church, i.e., a different way to gather. I long to see the whole church just going and being, taking the presence of Christ everywhere and letting the gatherings be truly secondary. They will take care of themselves quite naturally and powerfully when the church is being itself--the glory of Christ--in the world.
The primary reason that I seek simple expressions for church gatherings is so that we do not expend all of our time, energy, and resources on these gatherings and miss the point of who we really are and how we are to go and be in the world!