This has been a long-neglected topic. I've intended to post about our adventure into home church for a while now, but I never seem to get it done.
I guess that first and foremost, I must mention that our intention is not to recreate what you find at a church building in our livingroom. Just as we don't mimic a schoolhouse in our home schooling or a hospital in our home birthing, we wanted to start afresh, using only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as our guideline for fellowship with other members of the church body. Which is hard. Have you ever tried to start from scratch and ignore the paradigm that is so deeply engraved in your mind and your tradition? The tendency is definitely to reject it all (the traditions) out-of-hand because it is too hard mentally to reject only some and yet embrace others. But, we've tried not to do that either. Just because a church building does something, does not make it wrong, obviously.
We had felt, for a long time, that church, as it is today, was just not what Christ had in mind. While in Arizona, we were lead to a Baptist church. We felt disconnected. We disagreed with some of the things that were preached (it seemed legalistic to us) and we were confused as to why God had brought us there. We stayed there for over a year, never joining because we couldn't bring ourselves to align with that "church". But we were certain God had lead us there. Why? We didn't know. In the meantime, we continued to question the way "church" was done and why it seemed so contrary to what we saw in the first-century church. What was interesting was that our Sunday School class did a series on the first-century church, trying to show how the fundamental, independent Baptist church was doing it right. But for us, it made the differences even more glaringly obvious. Something wasn't right. We knew that. But what now?
We moved to Nebraska, not sure of what to do next. We visited a few church buildings when we got here, but nothing was different. In the meantime, I read a post at Letters from Kamp Krusty about how he quit "going to church". I was intrigued. The things he was talking about were exactly the things we were wrestling with. And then he had a book review of Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna. I called Don into the room. I was excited. It seemed to be a book that reaffirmed our questions and answered them. Don immediately ordered a copy. And then he ordered 10 more to give out. It was almost as if we were given permission to challenge the status quo.
I don't know why I continue to be amazed when God blesses us so immeasurably, but I am. And he did. Here in the middle of rural Nebraska, he plopped us down without leaving us alone. We now regularly meet with 2 other families of similar hearts and goals. We have neighbors that are interested in meeting with us too (and have on occasion).
We aren't there yet. We are still trying to find our way. We meet and sing and talk and eat and pray. But like I said, it is hard to start fresh. And none of us has ever really experienced a fellowship of believers led solely by Christ and are ignorant of what that really looks like. It's a journey. But, praise God, we aren't alone. And, in time, we hope to see what Jesus meant by being functioning member of His body, the church. A church that is a living, breathing organism, made of believers all over the world and not limited to a building or a denomination. The real church, the body and the bride of Christ. It's a lofty goal. But He meant for us to get there, didn't he? I think He did.
P.S. I've mentioned Violas book before. It is not for the faint of heart. It will challenge nearly everything you find in today's church buildings, including the building itself, the pastor, the tithe, the music, and the preaching. It will explain where these traditions came from and how, shockingly, it isn't the Bible. You can read the first chapter here. It will either infuriate you or make you feel relieved and hopeful. You won't be unchanged, though, I'd wager.