I don’t like my own title of my own post, because “church” is not something you “have” it is something you are. Nevertheless, with the Coronavirus canceling church services across the land, folks are starting to ask questions about what “having church” in your home looks like.
My experience has led me to the conclusion that our understanding of being the church, the object of Christ’s love, receiving that love and passing it along to others (John 13:34) drives our gatherings. I wonder if forgoing a “church service” to wrestle or commune with God, individually or as a family, with how to follow Jesus without programs or services of any sort could be most beneficial. I considered these questions before now out of a sense of Christianity being more than church attendance. Now, the issue is being forced upon many by the Coronavirus.
With that said, I would like to share some ideas about “having church” in your home. I pray that these ideas and your attempt, perhaps for the first time, to experience fellowship outside the structured church service will lead you to a greater sense of awe and wonder for the Head of the Church, Jesus! May your simple steps of faith lead you to a deeper experience of His love and His relational church!
Idea 1: 3/3 Group (Zumé)
I have a ton of respect for Curtis Sergent and have been involved with the Zumé project since its inception. Curtis has put together this handy little template for having a 3/3 group house church meeting. It contains great guardrails and a video to facilitate a house church meeting for those that desire specific steps. I know Curtis and the folks who put this together, and I know their desire is not to foster a rigid formula for having church every week, so guard against seeing this as a silver bullet for house church. Perhaps this can help you explore a different way of relating to your family and friends and thinking about the church? Personally, I like to handle “looking forward” part a bit differently than they suggest when I do this. Again, feel free to make it your own, but this is a great little resource for these times.
Idea 2: A Meal With Jesus
There is something very natural and simplistic about simply having a meal with Jesus. It seems to be a pattern evident in the pages of the New Testament. Perhaps even leave a spot at the table to remind you that He is there. Have bread and something to represent His blood. Open with prayer and invite Jesus to lead the time together and to focus minds on Him. Provide your best explanation/description of Jesus’s last supper with his disciples. Pass around the food (bread and juice) and eat together. Focus on remembering Him while you eat. Go around the table and invite folks to share a memory of Jesus–something He has personally done in the past week or any memory of His activity. Let the Spirit lead the conversation, but stay focused on remembering Him. Have your Bibles handy as I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourselves referencing it!
Idea 3: Life Transformation Group (LTG)
Life Transformation Groups are a simple format for thinking about one-on-one meetings with folks that foster Christ-centered friendships. They can also be a great template for a small simple church gathering as well. If everyone has read the same Scripture passage a few times before you get together that can be great, but if not just pick a passage and read through it twice and work through the symbols together. I have found that the miracles of Jesus are a great place to start and they really engage not-yet-believers or new believers with eye-opening insights about what Jesus is really like.
A few final thoughts…
These ideas alone don’t flip the paradigm for “having church.” The church is not a place or service, it is a family of people. Man is not the head of the Church, Jesus is. These ideas do lead us away from “giving a fish” and toward “teaching people to fish.” Trust is placed upon the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to “lead us into all understanding.” As you press into Christ for understanding, you will likely find that fewer tips and guides for your gathering are needed. Rather, your meetings become a space for you and His Church family to be led by Him to do the “one anothers” we see in the Scriptures.
Learning to be the Church in these ways is a journey, so be patient. Be flexible. Have fun! You may even need to use Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom during the Coronavirus Quarantine. It will be uncomfortable, but it should also be true to who you are, not contrived. One of the greatest pieces of advice I was given early on is that “you can experiment in the Kingdom of God,” so don’t feel pressure to be perfect. I think the goal of “simple church” is not great or perfect gatherings, but growing faithful lives and loving relationships with the Father and one another. So always remember that ultimately our time is to build up and encourage each other. This always seemed to be the chief aim of the Church in the New Testament.
No matter how believers meet, Jesus will continue to keep His promise to build His victorious Church. Let us endeavor to live into the promises and power of who we are in Christ, His beloved Bride. With humble hearts, we can follow our Leader and learn how to live and love in His grace.
Let us know your thoughts below and if you give any of these ideas a try, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences!