Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Simple Church- Our Journey

When we moved here in 2007, we really had no idea what God wanted us to do.  All we knew was that it would definitely be something non-traditional.  We had felt for a long time that there were people who didn't have a problem with a relationship with God, but had a real problem with "church" as we knew it.  In our years of ministry, we had come in contact with a lot of people like this.  That was our motivation for starting a simple church...house church...home bible study...whatever you feel comfortable calling it.  I think that's been the biggest challenge for us when people ask,  "Where do you go to church?"   After doing this for a while, it seems most people have the least problem or misunderstanding with the answer, "We have a simple church that meets in our home."  

When we left the local traditional church, we started by having "church on the trail".  Our children were younger and we wanted to keep things active.  We would prepare a Bible study that we talked about as we hiked in the Smoky Mountains.  Our first time doing this, Daniel asked Jesus to come into his heart.  It was a great confirmation to our hearts that we were finally doing what God wanted us to do here.  Daniel had always been resistant to the idea of accepting Jesus and going to heaven before.  We thank God then and now for such a visible sign of the direction we were to go.  

Does that mean that we haven't questioned ourselves during this journey?  Absolutely not!  We have learned and are still learning as we go.  

In the beginning, I set up prayer stations or we would do very hands-on things for the kids.  Sometimes we worked through a book of the Bible, or did topical studies (for example, spiritual gifts) After meeting for a couple of years with just our family, we added in one person that moved here from California.  He attended "house churches" there and joined us.  Since then, we have had one other family visit several times, but for the majority of the time, it's the six of us. 

So here's what we do on a typical Sunday (or Saturday).   Everyone brings food and we start by having a brief time of fellowship (small talk, etc.), praying and sharing a meal together around the table.  We alternate between two houses or the park if it's warmer.  After our meal, we have Bible study.  Our group picks a book of the Bible and works through it one chapter a week.  (We've done Luke, Acts, some of the Pauline epistles, other studies and are now working through Ezra and Nehemiah)  We go around the room with each person reading a verse until we have read the chapter.  After we are done, we discuss what we've read.  People ask questions, talk about what verses confused them or various things about the scripture.  If we don't understand something we pull out the commentaries or use our study Bibles to help us find the answers.  Our older children have full participation in our discussions.  Sometimes someone will share a song or hymn, sometimes there is spontaneous prayer, sometimes we have a full worship time with guitars and kids playing all kinds of percussion instruments.   It's that "simple"!   There is no preacher and no offering. 

We are able to adapt to those who are attending our simple church. We have orthodox Christian beliefs.  Group dynamics change depending upon the ages of children or the background and experiences of those there that day.  It's not a static experience.  I have hopes of being able to share some experiential worship ideas within our group in the future when/if the opportunities arise. 

Our vision for the future...we'd love to have at least one other family join our fellowship.  I'd love for our children to have contemporaries to share in their faith experiences.  That is our hope and prayer.  


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