Some of you have noticed that I don’t talk about going to church on Sunday mornings. In fact, when I do talk about Sunday mornings it’s usually to tell you about some home/DIY project I’m working on. Not church.
When James and I were first married we had many late night conversations about church. The traditional American version of church didn’t reflect what we saw in Scripture. For a while we attended a home-style church where the focus was on small groups and relationships. It was a good fit for us, but then the Lord moved us to another city and we went on a new search. For years we tried various churches and never found any group that seemed interested in real, deep relationships. We believed in the family staying together and not separating into age segregated groups, the parents teaching their own children and men being the leaders. We felt it was important to stress more than just salvation from the pulpit….we wanted discipleship and growth. It just wasn’t happening.
Finally, we started meeting in homes with a few other families. This was difficult because none of us had ever actually seen that model. Families would come and go until after a while it was just our family. We’d worship together and talk about the Lord. But we were lonely.
Then we moved again to where we live now. After about a year we found a homechurch in the big city, an hour away. We attended there for a couple of years and met many wonderful people, but the drive was too much and the teaching began to veer from what we could agree with. We tried hosting church again in our home, families would come and go. It was nice to have that deeper kind of fellowship, but still the families were coming long distances and it was difficult to build close relationships and really be there for each other in a time of need.
That is when we decided to focus on building a small group of families that were geographically close. We invited some families over and we began to meet once a week. Because each of the other families were tied into a local church, we met on Wednesday evenings. It was really nice. We would talk and share and sing together. We helped each other and supported each other and prayed together for our community. Because we met on Wednesdays and on Sunday mornings Jacob works at a local church, we started having our family worship time on Saturday mornings instead.
We met together with that group for several years and still they are our closest friends in the community. But as things go, we all have now drifted in different directions and don’t meet together regularly anymore. So we are in prayer about asking some other families to join us.
We also work really hard to keep up fellowship with other believers. We attend conferences and events where our kids can meet up with friends, we have people in our home often, we make trips to visit friends that we have these kinds of relationships with.
We have a strong local support group of friends that, while we all attend different churches, we offer each other support, encouragement and accountability.
It isn’t perfect, but it is where God has us right now.
When it comes to church, I don’t have an ideal. There is no way to have the perfect situation because people are imperfect. To us, that’s the beauty of church relationships. It isn’t intended to be a place you go sit once a week in your same, comfortable spot and drop your offering in the plate as it passes. It is meant to be a place of relationships where we work through our problems, love one another, tell each other the truth, learn to appreciate our differences and use our gifts.
And to be clear, we have nothing against the classic, steepled church building with a pastor and a choir. It’s what is happening inside of those walls that we are concerned about. Are there real, honest relationships? Do the people really know each other at all? Does the leadership call out sin? Are the youth expected to commit to purity and respect?
I hope this answers some of your questions about what we do for church.
Do you attend a church and, if so, how does it fit what you believe the Bible says church should be?
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