Monday, June 16, 2008

Simple church. House church.

Simple Church. House Church.
As you may recall from a previous post, there seems to be some misconception out there about what a house church is, how it functions, and why we are a part of it. So, I write this to clarify and explain. Not to justify, as I know that each person has their own views, journey, personal relationship with God, etc… And each of us choose our church family for reasons that we so believe in our hearts. So, in no way am I persuading, justifying, or anything like that. I’m just clarifying and simplifying.
It seems that maybe the easiest thing to do would be to post a link into here from somewhere on the WWW (house2house) or other things that have been written about house churches. But that wouldn’t really tell my story exactly, though I’m sure there would be many coinciding thoughts.
No, when I think about what my church family, what our house church really means to me, I think about the body of Christ. A family of believers. A body that is made of many parts, which makes it functional and useful to the kingdom. A family that encourages each other to grow in His grace and love. A group of brothers and sisters that are interested in reaching the community around them, and touching them with Jesus’ loving kindness. That’s just the core.
When I think about our house church, I think about the individuals, and how it is more about relationship than it is about meetings (although we must meet together to have relationship, eh?) Relationship with our Savior, relationship with each other.
So, to explain, I thought it best to tell a little about what we do, and a lot about the people in our family of believers, who are very dear to me.
We meet every Sunday (usually) at a different house each Sunday. We all know where each other lives, and if someone new comes, they get directions & a mapquest. We send out an email sometime during the week, stating where we will meet, what the main food will be (we always eat together), and what we can bring. We then reply to that email (sent back to everyone in the group) of what we will be bringing for food, so we don’t get lots of the same. We decide in advance who will facilitate the meeting. “Facilitate” doesn’t necessary mean “lead” or “teach,” it just means that someone has a thought, idea, or plan, and sort of directs the group from being led into weird directions. However, if someone has something on their heart to share, a prayer request, or another idea, the meeting can be led into other directions. And usually those are the best ones. We generally always share the things that are going on in our lives, pray for each other, and dive into the Word, then share what God reveals. It’s very encouraging and uplifting. Then, we eat. That is always good too! Sometimes we break bread and share communion, but it’s in no way ritualistic, and can occur at any time during our gathering, including with our meal. Sometimes we sing. Sometimes it’s accapella, sometimes we have a guitar, or two. But we always praise God, worship Him, and give Him the glory for our being, our meeting, and for His Spirit with us. And that’s what matters most. I always leave feeling refreshed, encouraged, and a part of something greater.
Now, that is just what happens on Sundays. More important is the people who make up this wonderful family. And they can be seen shining throughout the week. We don’t all randomly hang out with each other, some relationships have grown faster than others, but we meet with at least one or two other people in our group enough to know that others are meeting with each other. So it’s all connected. Sometimes we do fun activities together, sometimes we do service projects together. Sometimes we fast and pray for a person, situation, neighborhood, etc… on the same day. We don’t have to be together to do that. But we’re connected. Sometimes we call, email, or text each other. You get the idea. It goes without saying, but all of these people are passionate for God, living for Him radicals, who desire nothing more than to grow closer to Him, glorify Him, and live out a life that testifies to His Greatness. So, now having said this, I won’t repeatedly type that for every person, and, here are the people:
Sara: Sara is a fun, very extrovert person. She found our group via the internet about a year ago. She has a great personality and smile, and she fully engages with the people she communicates with. She was involved in ministry to youths before relocating to this area. Right now she works full time while pursuing her masters degree. So I always feel honored that she shares her time with us when she can.
Amanda: Amanda and her husband, Grant, are also pursuing their masters degrees while working full time jobs. Amanda is a very down to earth, and get to the point kind of person. She likes order, and keeps our group organized and adds structure when it is needed. She reveals honesty, humility, and desire to reach the lost. She has a great sense of humor and feels very comfortable in her own skin.
Grant: Amanda’s husband. Grant is a very outgoing person. He was a youth ministry leader in his former career. He likes to laugh and have fun, but takes things (like relationships, outreach, and his personal mission) very seriously. Grant pays attention to what people say, very specifically. Sometimes he will rephrase/restate what someone is trying to say, for his own clarification, and for the benefit of others, which is a blessing.
Phil: Phil desires new ways to reach the lost and hungry, and he is open to new ideas of how to do so. He likes movies, gardening, and music; and not just for enjoyment. He likes to observe, serve, and listen to and enjoy these activities for the purpose of seeking God in them. Which is really cool. He is currently heading up a mission in our area to grow a community garden that will benefit participants and help teach others how to grow. Julie: Julie is so cool that she has a blog of her own. Julie is a person who really knows what she likes and doesn’t like. But she is also really open to new things, new places, new ideas, etc…which makes her very unique. She searches for opportunities for outreach and to minister to others, and when God opens the doors, she is there. She loves to laugh and have fun and its obvious that she enjoys being around everyone.
Elise: Elise is a college student who we know through a former ministry that we were involved in together. She has a very energetic and loving personality. She lights up in a group of people, and she loves being actively involved in ministries, prayer groups, and bible studies. She also loves to have fun, laugh, and joke around. And she always has a hug for someone just when they need it.
Richie: Richie and his wife, Kelly, joined us a couple of years ago when he and an old friend from a college in Nebraska (Grant) ran into each other . Richie is involved in Civil War history reenactments and shines God’s light to the community there within, while also sharing that interest with many of our group. He loves doing fun things and gets so excited sometimes that it obviously ignites others! He takes time to listen to and play with the kids in our group. He also introduced many of us to the world of geo caching. Kelly: (his wife) Kelly is very grounded in her faith. When we meet together and she speaks, it becomes evident that she spends much time in the Word, in prayer, and in meditation. Her excitement about our gatherings is always encouraging and catchy. She takes the time to affirm people when she converses with them. She seeks God in each of the ministries that He has called her to, and intentionally makes life meaningful. She loves nature with a passion, specifically the mountains and woods in Montana, and she is also a birthing Doula.
Dustri: Dustri is Richie and Kelly’s first (and so far only) child. She is a sweet and very special 1 ½ year old. She loves to laugh and is very social amongst our church family. She loves to run around barefoot and has very tough little feet! We have enjoyed watching and taking part in her growth since her birth.
Lana: Lana is a woman on mission for God. We know her from our former church family, which she still meets with. She is married to Chris, and they have two children. She is always looking for ways to share God with anyone who comes into her path, and she is constantly seeking a path for God to set her feet on that would lead her to people thirsty and hungry for Him. Everything she does is with a kingdom agenda. She keeps her eyes open, her mind alert, and her heart ready to serve.
Brooke: Brooke is Lana’s daughter. She is ten years old. She loves to be creative and she is always smiling and talking or asking questions. Grant: He is Lana’s eight-year-old son. He appears to get very excited whenever we meet together and is always offering to help people carry things.
Todd: One day Todd started hanging out with our group and he fit in so easily that it began to seem like he had already been there for a long time. He is a teacher who loves to travel, and Europe seems to be his favorite destination(?). He is interested in the environment, helping out people who speak little or no English yet, and he thinks globally. He inspires the rest of us to do the same. He has a genuine interest in people, community, the earth, and in taking action.
Ken: Ken and his wife Linda actually reside in Ashland City, about a 30 minute drive away. There is not an existing house church already meeting in AC, so they’ve been meeting with us to get a feel for house church, and to see how it functions. That has actually turned into a very loving, family-type relationship with them. They are older than most of us, and it is refreshing that they are so open to a non-traditional relational atmosphere. Linda: Ken’s wife has an amazing open and loving heart. She is kind and compassionate and makes people feel important when she speaks to them. Both Ken and Linda are non-judging, relaxed, and open-to-the-leading of God kind of people.
Tiffany: Tiffany and Tim are the couple behind the vision and motivation that planted this house/simple church. Tiffany loves being around people. She loves working hard, gardening, camping, hiking, building fires, or whatever has to do with being outside, with someone, or in a group. She is a woman of prayer who constantly lifts up our group and individuals to God.
Tim: Tim is definitely a very social and people-loving kind of guy. He is a great organizer, and very much a do-er, not just a say-er. He has read more books than anyone I know, including myself, and he reads things that stretch a person’s mind - he always seems up for a good challenge. He does not conform to the flow, nor to other people’s opinions or expectations. He is himself. He loves to encourage others in their goals, dreams, and talents.
And of course my children are Joshua, Tyler, & Brielle: Josh brings kindness and fun to our group. He is respectful of others and really enjoys anytime we meet. Tyler asks just about every Sunday, “Where are we meeting today?” They both get excited when we are hanging out with anyone from our church family, and they enjoy going new places each week. So far for Brielle, it is the only thing she knows of what a body of believers look like…each family member has watched her grow, from my abdomen growing to her coming into this world, and over the past six months. They all love her, and she loves them.
On a personal note, this wonderful group of people has been a huge blessing to my life and to my family’s life. They challenge and encourage me to grow. They do not let me hide out. They have helped us when we have been in need. They have prayed for us, and for people we’ve asked them to.
Though we’ve never actually done this, when I envision what house church looks like to me, personally, it is this simple: A group of people, standing in a circle, holding hands, and looking to God.
That may sound a little corny…………but it is a three-cord rope, strong, and strengthened by God, and filled by His Spirit with His glory, and all are welcomed in.

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