For about the last two years, we’ve been doing church at home. Weird, right? Well, yes and no. It’s certainly different than a ‘big’ church. Our regular meetings include four to six adults and three to five children. We’ve spent our time walking slowly through the history of ancient Israel and are currently half-way through the book of John. There are things you can do in home church that you just can’t do in a formal church setting. If you’re running late, that’s fine, we won’t start without you. You can stop and ask a question, even one that’s not related to the topic at hand. You can answer your phone, it’s okay. We’ll wait. Your kids can go get something from the fridge if they’re hungry and of course they can eat it during the meeting. Would you like to stay for lunch? There’s plenty, and you really are a welcome guest. The dogs will sometimes be obnoxious and want some attention, but it’s a home and a church. Over the course of the past couple of years, we’ve been able to see growth in understanding, salvation and increasing trust in God and wonder at His Word. There are liabilities as well, because it’s certainly different than big church.
One big difference is the music. There isn’t really a music program to speak of in home church. We’ve done a little singing and my wife has tested her skills on the piano with us. In big church, there’s often a choir full of talented people. Another difference is anonymity. You can slip into and out of many churches without much more than a handshake and a nervous smile. You can’t be anonymous in a room with ten people. There are comforting rituals in big church that get a little lost in translation at home, particularly around the seasons of the Christian calendar. It’s hard to develop the mysteries of Easter (not the bunny) with folks who haven’t heard the full story yet. By God’s grace, this coming Easter will be the first time we can rehearse the story of our risen Lord as a redeemed community. Unlike big church, there’s no nursery (no need), nor are there special programs for children, though we often play games at the close of our meeting times together.
Which one is better? I suppose that’s a very subjective question. Some folks would strongly prefer the formality and services of a big church and I can respect that. On the other hand, our home church wasn’t born from a desire to be identical to the form of church, but to its substance. Any church succeeds by helping people grow in their relationship to God and to each other. We just do it quite a bit smaller. You’re always welcome to drop by… be forewarned, you won’t be able to stay anonymous.