From J*, a neighbor to Deb and me on Nextdoor
”Thank you for answering my ad concerning Church Services, home-based. Could you tell me more about Worship? Denomination, where is worship and time? Thank you both. GOD Bless.”
(Note – I cleaned this up a bit and added some content. It was awkward using the Messages function on Nextdoor. I thought it was a good start for anyone wanting to know more about what happens in the living rooms of house churches.) Here goes…
Denominations. We have Plymouth Brethren, Charismatic, Church of Christ, Catholic, and Baptist backgrounds (I may be off by a denomination or two), but we consider ourselves just Christians. We all agree on the basics of salvation and discipleship. We all seek to know and follow Jesus better, and we help each other in growing. We just don’t have doctrinal issues that turn into contentions. I think that is because we love and respect each other.
Worship. How about I describe this past Sunday? There were ten adults ranging from 20’s to seventies and 4 children from one to ten years old. The children play, or participate as their parents choose. They do learn a lot while playing by just watching us together here and there. Gabe fathers his children as opportunities arise, teaching, or correcting, or encouraging and I rest in my own Father’s care. We meet in a home and that helps foster a familial and casual environment. We meet at Randy’s house in Fuquay Varina; thus, we call ourselves “the church that meets at Randy’s house.”
We meet at 10:30 on Sunday morning until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. As people arrive, a nice hum of commotion and conversations start to fill the room, along with the fragrances of food items–sausages, quiche, crescent roll sandwiches, fruits, sweet rolls, an egg cheese frittata bake thing (so good!). Mary, as she always does, greets me with a hug and kind words. For a moment, I was in Jesus’ arms, and he in mine. We filled our plates and sat together around the table. Gabe fed me with the frittata he faithfully makes and shares every week. We broke bread to start the meal and prayed. For the next hour and fifteen minutes or so we ate, laughed, and talked. I saw Jesus smiling at me through several faces, and I smiled into his face all around me. Mostly updates and plenty of conversations going at the same time. As the meal finished, we moved into the living room.
We have no formal leadership apart from our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Everyone shares, asks questions about something they read or heard, or shares insights or experiences. The conversation goes along its way with many contributing to the content, including a natural mix of men, women, and children. I asked him questions and through several I trust, and as he so often does, he spoke back to me in Randy’s voice now, and then in Jessica’s and then Abby’s and also Don’s. Imperfect reflections, but tangible, breath-taking glimpses of the Holy One. There will be several topics explored in a communal dialogue as things come up and we see new insights, clarify perspectives, and often as not the conversation remains to be taken up at another get together. God is complicated in plenty of ways, but we keep trying to better know Him. We sing and God sang in those voices (we have two wonderful musicians who can carry a tune and play guitar). We pray for each other as needs are shared.
This week we spoke together on the topic of cross cultural concepts. Several of us have spent time in other cultures here in the US and internationally. I imagine that important conversation will continue to be explored to some degree. It definitely impacts changes in the church such as the growing house church movement of the last 50 years (also called organic church, simple church, micro church, etc.). We also spoke about the early church, their failures and their successes. I look around, I hear people speaking with an intensity and an earnestness that fills me, and I am overwhelmed with his presence. We admitted that both Israel and the church–of course, including we ourselves–were disappointments to God, but that He continued/continues to use them–and us–in spite of our weaknesses and confusions. Jessica expressed the need we have for honesty/transparency in all of our interactions every day. noting that we can’t even pretend with little children. They can tell when we aren’t being true and genuine. How could we think it possible to fool each other? She mentioned that she sees her one year old accurately discerning whether she means something or not. There were more topics; there always are. We closed by sharing cups of wine, remembering our Lord gave all for us and held nothing back.
God shows up because he is in all of us, each of us made in his image, to reflect his glory. He slips out in glimpses here and there, like the mysterious play of fireflies flashing in the evening. So many thoughtful kindnesses pass between us. Yes, he is here. And all around you. Even though we are marred by sin and in many ways distorted, If we want we can see him in our exchanges.
Whatever way you would like to continue exploring house church together, we’d be glad to do so. Would you like the address for Randy’s house so you can stop by one of these Sundays?