I’m an idealist at heart and deeply desire the best in all aspects of life even though I am an imperfect person (striving to be perfect) in a less than perfect world. My quest for living out the ideal (or what I imagine in my head as ideal) is as true in ministry and the life of the church as it is in other areas of my life. Because of this desire for the ideal I can sometimes either get in the way of what God really wants to do or become impatient in the process of reaching an ideal state of being. I prayerfully try to approach the ideas God gives me, especially when they seem like the ideal to me, in order to make sure I continue walking in the light of Christ. I just thought you ought to know this about me.
Several months ago I started talking about and promoting a way of being together called home church, and even made flyers with a place to sign up to be involved for the bulletin. Sadly, I have done a poor job of following up on the initial interest, and continuing to encourage involvement. For a month I have had writing this e-mail on my list of things to do, but am just now finding words coming to my mind to type. Hopefully, these words will come through in a coherent and organized manner.
Before I share some clarifying and invitation oriented thoughts on home church I would like to share some words from the book So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore: an unexpected journey by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman. (For your information, I am thinking about leading a book study on this book in the near future.) These words can be found on pages 148 – 149 of the book and occur during a conversation that takes place during a back yard barbecue. (Hopefully I am not breaking any copy right laws.)
“But what is the church, John, if it’s not getting together regularly?”
“I’m not saying it can’t meet, Marvin. I’m just saying that meetings won’t accomplish what you’re looking for. Look around you,” John’s hand swept the back yard, “Aren’t people together all over?”
“You’re calling this a church, John?” Marvin was as surprised as I was.
“Yeah! I thought it was a barbecue,” I added.
“No, I’m saying the church is here. Here are people who love him. Over the course of this day they will share a lot of his life together, I’m sure. Jesus said it only takes two or three and he never said anything about having to do it at the same time, same place, same way every week. He didn’t seem to think of the church as something we do at all, or even go to, but a reality we live in every day.”
“Don’t you see you’re already doing it? Living as his body we will encourage one another daily and stimulate one another to love more deeply and to live more graciously. It can be as simple as having a barbecue.”
“Even without worship or Bible study?” Marvin asked.
“We’re already talking about how Father works, aren’t we? And worship isn’t having a song service or prayer time, Marvin. It’s living as a daily sacrifice in the life of Jesus, which is letting him demonstrate his reality through you. This is the joy of living in the kingdom – watching him work in you. But I’m sure if someone here wants to pull together some people to sing, praise, or pray, others would want to too, and it would be awesome. It looks like those people over there are praying.” John pointed to a group on the patio who were holding hands in a circle.
“But it’s not what we learned to call church.”
“Of course not! It can’t be this easy. It can’t be this much fun. We have to work at it more, be more miserable. Don’t you see that’s how the life of the kingdom is snatched from your hearts?” John shook his head with a sigh. “There will be trouble enough as you move along in this world. wouldn’t you rather share life together as believers with joy and encouragement?”
“But how will new believers grow, John. Don’t we need teaching?”
“What are we doing now? I’m trying to help you discover something that will set you free in ways you can’t even imagine. Isn’t that teaching?”
“But not everyone’s involved. Some are missing out.”
“They might be missing this conversation, but I doubt they are missing out on what God wants to do in them today. He’s pretty good at that.”
The home church ministry of Homedale Friends Community Church is simply an intentional way for us to share life together away from the many walls of our church building. We want to provide the opportunity for relationships to be developed, for conversations (whether shallow or deep) to be shared, for community to happen, for “church” to happen on a regular basis. My hope is that these informal gathering will happen at least on a monthly basis in homes, or other convenient locations and over time will spill over to ball games, school functions, group outings, and more. As people show interest we will put people together in groups of 3 or 4 families and go from there. We hope to get this started in March.
If you would like to be involved please send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). (If you have already given me your information you do not need to send me your information.) If you would like to be a host (help organize the group you are in) please let me know.
Please prayerfully consider this opportunity.