Yesterday on the blog we visited a family integrated church. Today, we visit the home church we attended prior to that.
Our home church really didn’t have a name. We fondly called it the Pilgrim Church because we went from house to house like wandering pilgrims. Each family took a turn hosting. This meant they either hosted in their home or found a place to host (like a park or often the basement of a local library). When they hosted, they were also in charge of providing the juice and bread for Communion. We had Communion every Sunday, usually in the middle of the service.
I can’t really give you an order of service because much of the service was Spirit-led. However, I will try to give you a description of what a typical service might look like.
10 am – Everyone gathers at the meeting place. Usually, we sat as families, but occasionally (like when a mother with many little ones would come without her spouse) there were children interspersed amongst other families who would help care for them during the service. Often there were little ones on blankets because space was a precious commodity.
The men led the service. At the beginning of the service, they would introduce guests if need be, ask prayers, and offer praises. Then, there would be a time of prayer where the men each took turns praying around the room (although not every man was required to do so).
The men were also encouraged to be prepared to offer something within the service even if it was simply a song. As the boys in the congregation came of age, they were invited to begin offering as well. We had a set of hymnals and sang acapella.
I’m going to take a second to explain something here that I feel is very important. Singing acapella was not a rule. At one point, we had a piano that one of the girls played when we were at her house and often after church, we would gather at the piano or around anyone who had brought a guitar, but it was decided that singing acapella during the service itself helped to provide unity amongst the Body on a subject that can often lead to dissension.
There were men within the congregation who always had a sermon prepared and men who were excellent at telling what their family had been learning throughout the week from Scripture. Other men would pray or offer songs or tell of a mission opportunity. There was no order of service. It all came about as each man was led to offer his part.
At some point, one of the men would either offer a song or a prayer that would lead into Communion and each father would serve his family and his guests.
Some would think this sounds like a rather chaotic way to conduct a service, but really there wasn’t anything chaotic about it.
But what I am really wanting to tell you about is the part of this church that makes us long to return even years after moving away. Remember, I mentioned RELATIONSHIPS in my post on finding a church? That was something this church did and did well.
We truly had “all things in common.” If I needed to borrow something, all I must do is ask. In this little church, “all things in common” took on flesh and blood. And even though we only got together once a week and lived miles and miles apart from each other (some as far away as 40 miles), it was not uncommon for us to meet for an impromptu homemade ice cream party or a soap making party. It also became commonplace to stay at the host family’s home long after church was over. The children would play and everyone would talk and talk and talk. We would always eat a meal together and then manage to throw together leftovers if need be to make supper as well. Sometimes these afternoons would include canning of peaches, sewing lessons, musical gatherings, and prayer meetings. We were family.
It is my understanding that shortly after we moved away another family moved as well and the church has since struggled. I cannot help but wonder if Satan was determined to undermine such a beautiful example of one-anothering. It is my prayer the church would heal again.
While I do not know if we will ever worship in a home-church setting again, Ty and I do wholeheartedly enjoy that model of church and find it to be as close as you can come to the Acts 2 Body of believers.
And despite what I said on Tuesday, I truly am excited to start visiting local church congregations and be with other believers again!
NOTE: Last night, I watched Divided, a movie about the modern age-segregated ministry movement. This documentary was incredibly well done and a must-watch for anyone interested in understanding the Biblical roots behind family integration in worship.