What should a home church look like? More thoughts on Letting Go

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks. It’s not complete just yet…

Leaving one church, one in which you have spent a considerable amount of time in is difficult; leaving a sect or denomination which you have spent 32 years in is heart wrenching. It’s like a divorce. You don’t really know who will be your friend as you go on your journey. Sometimes, you are afraid to go out to a local restaurant or store for fear of running into those who drove you away, although you had to leave for very good reasons. When you leave because of a few people, and if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know what I mean, then you don’t feel like even seeing them. It is like a real bad divorce, but instead of getting the kids, you have to decide who gets the Wal-Mart on South Ridge…

You also make a habit of sitting down and feeling sorry for yourself, focusing on what led to the decision, whether or not you could have done anything differently, starting to question a lot of things about yourself. It is a trying time, to be sure, especially when you come to realize some of the darkness, the abuse, in the relationship. When you finally break free of that, and begin to look for another place in which to devote yourself and praise God in, you have to be careful not to fall into the same old routine.

To be honest, when we decided to head back to church, we visited only one. Maybe it is a rebound, but I doubt it. I’ve known about this place for a while, after having visited the pastor several years ago as part of my previous position. I knew of its works in the community, of its basic theology, and while I knew that we might not see everything eye to eye, my family and I decided to visit it first. It was the first place to pop into my mind, to be honest. We would go there once, and then go other places – that was our intention. I knew what I wasn’t and where I wouldn’t go, but what about the place where I could go and feel theologically and spiritually (un)comfortable? What about a place where my family and I could grow in God? You know, a home church.

But, what should a home church look like?

I think a home church should be one which is enriching to the family, focused on the word and truth of God. It should allow the person to grow spiritually and theologically, giving them room for such a journey. It should be one of friends, in which we can fellowship one another in the bonds of peace, where we leave out the temporal arguments to discover Christ in one another.

Of course, I guess one of the best ways to decide what you want in a new home church is to decide what was bad about the other one. Or, perhaps, what you don’t want to see again. For instance, bad ethics. I can handle shaky doctrine but bad ethics is something that can hurt people in a variety of (illegal) ways, morally and spiritually. Doctrine can be fixed if there is an open air of communication. Bad ethics are something generally ingrained in someone and is difficult at best, I believe, to convince out of them. Decisions based on bad ethics are not based on Scripture, really, but on what is best for the decision maker at the moment.

Another thing, I guess relating back to the communication bit, is a clear path in decision-making. No cliques or hidden rules about who not to tick off so as not to be an outcast. There should be a clear method, unchanging, as how to bring an issue before the decision maker(s) without them having an undue influence from outside, even family, sources.

The place should be doing God’s will, God’s work, and not fortifying itself from the outside world, whether by the nature of the people inside or on purpose.

Tell me, what do you look for in a home church, especially when you have been ‘divorced’ from your previous congregation?

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13 Replies to “What should a home church look like? More thoughts on Letting Go”

  1. I know one of the things I liked about becoming a Minister in our denomination was the fact the lines were clear. If I studied and undertook a period of discernment then I was eligible for ordination. All up it was about a 5 -6 year journey. In my previous denomination the lines were never clear and i continually had to “work” for recognition so that I could be noticed. I had to work the crowd and please people. Its nice to know where I stand and to no longer have to fit a particular mold.

  2. The problem is that doctrinal shakiness leads to those ethical and moral problems. Of course, that doctrine must be internalized.
    We face this down here with the extreme fundies.
    I would look for a clear leadership structure, doctrinal purity (as much as possible), open lines of communication, as well as options to minister.

  3. Don't get me wrong, I don't like bad doctrine… but shaky doctrine can be worked on (on both sides) if communications are open.

    And I think you are right – *bad* doctrine leads to other things…

  4. I hope it didn't seem as if I were rebuking you. I'm just thinking of our struggles here. It seems that a man can preach a certain list of things and be considered sound in doctrine; all the while, however, ethical and moral concerns are glossed over and swept under the rug. Yet those things would be dealt with rightly if the doctrinal foundation were right.
    Oh what a hobby horse I can ride about our dear fundie friends….

  5. Joel, honestly, there will never be a perfect (ideal) congregation (as you no doubt know). Our human flaws leave their traces everywhere, even in the Church. The key, however, I strongly feel, is not to look for that ideal Church, but to establish yourself there where the Lord has led you – where the doctrine is sound, orthodox, and tested. Stay (root yourself) there, and make the difference for Jesus by building, strengthening and encouraging others in that place as you offer yourself up in His cause and service. All will not always go your way, you may not even like the people, but live for Jesus, and make that Church better because of your presence there…

    On a personal note (and I say this having read your blog for some time now) you have far too much to offer the Body of Christ (wisdom, knowledge, training) for you to exist in isolation (and that with your family) for much longer. So determine to resolve the matter, and go to work…

  6. Fr. Stephen, no worries, as we have been going to a place for almost two months now. I think that we will make the commitment to the congregation on the 15th of August….

  7. The key, however, I strongly feel, is not to look for that ideal Church, but to establish yourself there where the Lord has led you – where the doctrine is sound, orthodox, and tested. Stay (root yourself) there, and make the difference for Jesus by building, strengthening and encouraging others in that place as you offer yourself up in His cause and service. All will not always go your way, you may not even like the people, but live for Jesus, and make that Church better because of your presence there…

    I have been praying towards this for over a year. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. The key, however, I strongly feel, is not to look for that ideal Church, but to establish yourself there where the Lord has led you – where the doctrine is sound, orthodox, and tested. Stay (root yourself) there, and make the difference for Jesus by building, strengthening and encouraging others in that place as you offer yourself up in His cause and service. All will not always go your way, you may not even like the people, but live for Jesus, and make that Church better because of your presence there…

    I have been praying towards this for over a year. Thank you for sharing this.

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