OUR JOURNEY INTO HOME CHURCH
Our journey into home church over the past year has been a mixture of life and death. Along with the enjoyment of discovering more refreshing and satisfying ways of relating has been the battle against the old foe of the church, religion. And it is very ingrained. I thought I’d briefly record a few of the battles and the victories gained along the way.
1. THE BATTLE OVER TRADITIONAL MEETING STYLE
Part of our reason for change was a sense of disillusionment with a meeting style that was based around the performance of a worship team and a preacher with little involvement from a congregation that had been unwittingly trained into passivity. If the performers did well you could go home with a feeling of satisfaction without having had to do much except sing along, listen and participate in the offering and communion. We sensed that the early church meetings were not like that but ‘each brought a song, a teaching, a revelation etc etc’
What happened though, when we moved into our house, was that we found ourselves after a few months doing in the house just what we were doing in the building. Same format of singing, then announcements, then preaching all led from the front. Fortunately we recognised it and gave some thought as to why we were meeting and what were the basic ingredients necessary for us to experience Christ among us. We examined whether we have to sing four songs (or any songs), formally take up an offering, having a three point sermon etc and finished up laying aside much that we were used to in favour of developing the kind of interaction that builds relationship.
2. THE BATTLE OVER THE OPINIONS AND EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS
When you are leader that has at one stage built a church of 80 or more people, in a new building with a good worship team and activities program, and are then reduced down to half a dozen or so couples, some singles and a few kids crammed into a house, you go through a lot of self examination. Am I like Moses leading the people out into the wilderness only to die? Is there really a Promised Land of a better way to be the church or am I just a tunnel-visioned idealist? And what must this look like to those observing us? Surely it just looks like we are in some kind of a freefall destined for an inevitable nasty meeting with annihilation and oblivion.
Well, although I’m sure we are not in freefall, that doesn’t mean we are not dying. The Bible is full of people who on the outside looked like failures. Sarah in her barrenness, Job on the ash heap, Joseph in prison, Moses in the desert, David running from Absalom, Paul in Tarsus, John in the dungeon, and Jesus on the cross, all surrounded, not just by concerned, head-shaking friends, but also by the taunts of those who measured success by outward accomplishments and the standards of men. For all of them, obscurity, barrenness and the wilderness where vital times of preparation. But they were also times of death – death to their own techniques and expectations, and death to the opinions of others.
Not that we are closed to the input of others. After all we are surrounded by people who love us and walk in wisdom. But we need to discern where counsel comes from and what older mindsets are sometimes in play. That’s always the challenge – how to walk in the integrity of your own convictions whilst also maintaining and honouring the important relationships and accountability structures that God has given. Lord, give us wisdom to discern.
Coming up: DEAD MAN WALKING (2)