Monday, August 2, 2010

What If...


The church is never a place, but always a people; never a fold but always a flock; never a sacred building but always a believing assembly. The church is you who pray, not where you pray. A structure of brick or marble can no more be the church than your clothes of serge or satin can be you. There is in this world nothing sacred but man, no sanctuary of man but the soul. ~John Havlik, People-Centered Evangelism

Our church sign in the light of the rising sun.

My husband and I talked last night about the fast. (Although I am sure my readers are getting bored with the subject, it is foremost on my mind each hour of my day.) He had some feelings to sort out and I was rather surprised that I had some rather strong opinions that came out of me as well. Is it the leading of the Holy Spirit? I hope so.

We are a very small church meeting in a small house. The one-car garage has been enclosed, there is a room used for the church office, and there is one room upstairs divided in two by partitions. Our sanctuary is made of the dining and living room combined, after the wall between them was torn down. Other than that, there is the kitchen and two bathrooms. Now there has been the suggestion that we could go to home churching, but, you know, I just kept thinking for some months before the financial crunch that we are a church meeting in a house...as to the facilities, but not a home church in structure.

Now, that is where my part of the conversation came out so strongly, which I am hoping is from the Lord. As a church body, we seem to have this impression that in order to serve our church members as well as be prepared to grow that we must be able to offer as many groups as we can according to ages and we must absolutely offer a nursery. Now if we were truly meeting in someone's home, this would just not be feasible, but as if we must compete with large churches or keep some decorum, we are doing this, yet we could be burning out the few people we have.

Also, we are not fostering families well. I suppose that everyone needs a break from their children, I understand this since I homeschool, but I do not believe that church should be that place. I mean, people sit with their children to see a 90-minute movie at the theater, but they would rather not sit with them in church? As a homeschooling family, my daughter and I have devotions daily (most of the time), but if I were to ask any one of the families in my church if they did or do have daily devotions with their children or spouses, I am pretty sure the answer would be disappointing...and yet everyone can tell you about their favorite TV show or what someone else wrote on Facebook.

So, there is this: What if we let go of this ideology and stop we trying to be like a bigger church? We are a very small church. What if we restructure the church so that it can be what it is and do that very well? What if we just become a family church, where we encourage families to worship together at the church and at home? If one of the younger children is getting too restless, instead of having him separated from the church family the minute he gets in the door, wouldn't it be nice if people just offered to help out as they feel led to do so as needed? What if we keep our children in the service so they can see their parents and other adults worshiping, giving testimonies, praying, crying, and laughing, so they can learn by example how to worship? What if we could have a children's sermonette relating to the sermon and then the children would understand more, perhaps listen better during the sermon.

Then, I was thinking of Mr. Syler. He came two Sundays ago, but he could not stay long enough to hear the Princess play the song she had prepared...and he really adores her. If you could see the way his eyes light up when he sees her! Unfortunately, he just cannot sit up but for a few minutes, but he can recline. I mentioned that maybe we could bring in a recliner for him and I heard back that we do not have the space. My husband and I have a small wing back recliner we could loan to the church to keep in the office that might take up the space of four seats, when Mr. Syler comes, and we have more than four seats vacant on each Sunday at this point anyway. If I walked into a church that catered like that to the oldest member, who most likely will not be walking this earth much longer, I would fall in love with it immediately! There must be other people out there that feel the same way...there just must be!

I just feel this desire, this deep seated need, to do things differently than every other church is doing them...not for the sake of being different, but because we are different. I feel we need to minister to each other and use what we have more wisely. It may be a small building, but it is not used much at all really. I think the addition of our Wednesday night prayer time has brought us all closer and perhaps people are going to see everything from a different perspective during and after the fast. In the meantime, I will keep praying and seeking my Lord. I am hoping I am speaking out from what He has laid on my heart and it is not just my own will getting in the way. I sincerely hope that.

~ My Lord, my Lord. Tears of sorrow come so frequently now. My heart is breaking for those, who cannot let go, who cannot just surrender to You completely. Even I am now waiting while You are silent. I do not feel forsaken, yet I feel unsure. Are these "what if's" just the outpouring of my own heart, or do they come from You? ~

4 comments:

  1. Now I get to write a book! ☺ I think your thoughts are spot on. God is not about numbers or growth. Those are worldly concerns. They make us think we are doing things right.

    God is about a *peculiar* people, a holy people, a people dedicated to Him alone. Absolutely everything else is secondary! Nor do I believe, from my understanding of scripture, that separating families is the right or Godly thing to do. That again is worldly thinking, classical Greek ideaology, not Hebraic or scriptual thinking.

    I think if you do what you do well you will be exactly on track. Dearest & I had a similar conversation last night. We have just one other family with us at present but this is good & right. We have been able to really strengthen them & grow them on ~ something that the greater numbers we had would have prevented ~ even damaged as this is a very intelligent family & some of the ideas they are struggling to sort through others would have bashed them for rather than addressing. Not to boast ~ especially as I have the spirit shutting my mouth a LOT!!!!

    I think you are starting to get the answers you were seeking. Whether enough people are listening well enough to also hear the message is another matter. ♥ to you are you pray through this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OK... I am tempted to read what our dear Ganeida has written, but I'm going to wait until I've written my piece;-)

    You wrote: "What if we restructure the church so that it can be what it is and do that very well?"

    Amen, amen. AMEN! This is wisdom, I think. God has shown that He loves variety by everything in creation. Why would He want all churches to look the same? "Regular," traditional churches are all over the place. If that is what someone wants they'll have no trouble finding it. Bigger is not necessarily better- traditional is not always best. Highly ordered and organized churches can do a lot and can serve a lot of people, but there is most certainly a place for the small, intimate, go-with-the-flow kind of body of believers. It seems like you could have the best of both options with your little house: the intimacy and informality of a home church with the ease of having a communal meeting place. Honestly it sounds quite ideal to me♥ I wish I could join you!

    I only hope and pray that the rest of your body can be willing to think outside of the box as you have done. Here's a thought... you probably are already familiar with the idea of "family integrated church" but just in case you're not, here's a link to a website you might be interested in: http://familyintegratedchurch.com/ Maybe some of your churchmates might find some of the reading matter there interesting. It certainly would validate much of what you are feeling at this point.
    Continuing to pray for you♥

    ReplyDelete
  3. Persuaded, I actually was not aware there was an actual "movement," but I am not surprised either. I was certain there are other Christians that are being led in the same direction.

    However, Persuaded and Ganeida, we are people of a differing mindset because we are called to homeschool. I don't know that others in my church will be willing to go in this direction and the fear would be that we could lose more people. Perhaps, though, we must get past our fears and just follow God. The question would be then, if this is just my own feelings or is this the direction God wants for our church. I hope it is the latter, but there is that "wait" for now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "...people sit with their children to see a 90-minute movie at the theater, but they would rather not sit with them in church?"

    That is an excellent point.

    I love this post. For well over a year now, my heart has been yearning to home-church. Right now, it's just a dream. But it's a dream I can't shake. I am fascinated by the way this same dream has captured your heart as well.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.