I have been part of a local church for most of my life and have been very active in New Frontiers Churches since marrying my Husband in 1994. We have run Housegroups, Alphas, Student Groups, led worship, been Trustees, been involved with Kids work - you name it we have done it! And for the most part have enjoyed it. But there came a point before we left our church there were more and more things that just didn't sit right with us, not because they were wrong but because we just didn't feel this was where our heart was anymore. We weren't interested in having a church building, and being a big church in the city. This whole ethos has never sat well with me particularly, but I thought that was the way to do it so went along with it, but really I don't think this option works for everybody.
I can see that there is a huge need for the local church and the work that they do, especially working into communities and the such like, but what about 'Joe Blogs' off the street, where does he fit into this. However hard we try, churches seem to be middle class, academic, youth and student based organisations, not that this is wrong but there are a lot of people who don't fit into these criteria, how do they cope with a church where they don't have a 'place'. There is coming a day when we are going to see a huge revival and I really don't think that the only people who are going to come to know Jesus in this revival will be middle class or students! How will 'Joe Blogs' or 'Josephine Blogs' cope with this alien set up of 45 minutes of worship, followed by some notices and then 45 minutes of an academically based exegesis of a bible passage? I don't think that it is unfair to say that they probably won't cope! So there has to be an alternative, but what is that?
This is difficult to answer at the moment, but I know that God is opening a way up for a new type of church or better still a whole new way of doing church. Have you ever given much thought to why we do church the way we do? How much of it is tradition and dare I say religion? What would it be like to do it completely different? What could it look like? These are the questions that we are pondering and asking Father God to help us with.
So we are looking at the bare bones of what church is, which is to gather with people who love God to spend time together and focus on him. For the last couple of months we have been gathering people we know on a Friday or Saturday evening once a month, to have a meal together and have a time of worship or something along those lines. It has been a really fantastic experience and really encouraging for us. One of our prayers has always been that the Father blesses us with every heavenly blessing so that we can be a blessing to others and I would love our house to be a place of blessing. One where people come in for a good meal, good company and some great worship and go off refreshed and blessed to go about their daily lives in their churches and homes. We don't want to start a church, but we want to live a life where we are the church. rather than going to a church. I think opening up our homes is going to be an amazing way to cope with the numbers of people who will come to know God in a revival. It wont be for everyone, as with 'Big Church', but it will definitely suit people who maybe don't fit into the other option.
How will this look as time goes on? Well to be honest we don't really know, we are walking a path where we can't see round the corner, but we are trusting in God and know that he is leading us and that he is good all the time. We said when we left our church that we were on an adventure to see what God was doing out there in the big wide world, we didn't know at the time that it would mean not being in a church! God moves in mysterious ways:-).