So, I’ve been talking a bit about our journey in leaving the IC (institutional church) but I haven’t said much yet about what we’re doing instead. And I understand that’s an imbalanced message – like a gospel about what you’re saved from instead of what you’re saved to. But have no fear, I have no intention leaving this series in the negative.
Right now we “officially” meet on Friday nights and Sundays (sometimes a couple of people come over on Wednesday evenings, too – mostly because we’re so used to doing that from being in the IC so long). But it’s not uncommon for some of us to see each other more often than that. One girl in particular has become sort of the 7th member of our family and she’s here most days – we shop together, we clean together, we hoop together – we “do life” together.
On Friday nights people start arriving at around 5:00 and often times don’t leave until 10:00 or later. We all pitch in to bring food, we hang out, we play board games, we play video games, we play music, and we share passages from the Bible that we’ve recently read or we think need to be heard at our gathering. Often times someone comes with a stressful situation that they’ve been dealing with and we all sit around scripture and find comfort and guidance for them in The Book. Truthfully we’ve been meeting on Friday nights for probably more than 2 years now, we just didn’t have the freedom to call it “church” yet.
Sometimes we’re blessed with the company of a certain musician who writes new songs about as often as she breathes.
Sundays are similar to Fridays, except longer. People start showing up around 10:00 or 11:00 and “church” lasts all day. People come and go as they are able. Some people stay until dark (or well after). Some people go home and take a nap and then come back again. Some people come after they’ve left their Institutional Church. We spend the whole day together just trying to be a family in Christ and build each other up, learn from each other.
Basically, we’re trying to learn to live more in community, to love more sincerely, to sacrifice our time and gifts for each other, to learn, to study, to grow. We don’t desire to be rogue “feet” broken off from the body of Christ, like many worry we are. We’re not dismembered. We are still the body of Christ.
We don’t pretend to be perfect. We don’t pretend to be experts at this following God outside of man-made institutions. This is a journey and we haven’t arrived yet. But at least we feel like we’re on the right path now. And we are willing to listen to those who have gone before us.
We babysit for each other, help each other out financially when one of us is in need, visit each other in the hospital, drive each other back and forth to work when a car is broken, pray for each other, laugh with each other, take day-trips with each other.
I don’t know what else to say about it, really. It feels so much easier to “be the body” when there aren’t more members than you can even know by their first name. It feels so much easier to have intimate friendship and fellowship with a small number of people that you can truly get to know. It feels so much more natural to function when leadership can arise naturally and not arbitrarily. It feels so free to not be constrained by time-tables, or “merely rules taught by men” (like so often happens in the IC). It feels good to not have to fake anything, to smile and nod, to superficially greet. It feels good to have open participation so questions can always be asked or answered in the moment when scripture gets confusing.
It feels like Jesus, and his Spirit, just might be in our midst.