Lately I have been thinking about sharing some experiences that might encourage some of you here. From 1995 to 2010 my wife and I met in homes with several families and experienced some wonderful times in the Lord. The core group was not particularly focused on house church but were simply drawn together to share what God was doing in our lives, to pray for one another and to encourage one another to reach out to others in need.
When we found out that this concept was more wide spread, we were excited to find others around the country doing the same things. I found many contacts on the internet and attended retreats and conferences and wondered how we could let others know of the freedom we had found in Christ. From that time I have many life-long friendships in our area and in other states which have made a tremendous impact on my life personally, including my great friend David Anderson who hosts this site.
The one downside for me was when people found us from the House Church movement they often came with expectations of what they read about in the many books they found. Those who had not read the books were puzzled by some of the conversations about the dreaded "IC" (or Institutional Church) and the tension caused the loss of people from both perspectives. It was painful to see so many families come and go when our previous church experience in a traditional setting had people staying together through many difficult times.
Eventually the regular group gradually dispersed due to moving away, health problems, and various life changes. After a failed attempt to start another group, and some time in another small church, we found some families that had a nice group going. They had been using the facilities of a small denominational church about 15 miles from us. That was about five years ago.
For the first time in many years we have a church family again. The home group connected with the main church and our contacts with everyone there has led to a new home group that we meet with on Wednesday evenings. In two years our small group has grown close, in spite of the fact that some go to other churches and others no other church at all. Five of us are connected to the main church but that is not an issue. It is about God's Kingdom.
Several times I have told the people that this is the last place I would have expected the Lord to lead me. I have never been in denominational church in my entire life. Believe it or not, I have freedom and opportunities here. We have discovered that one hour on Sunday morning in a traditional setting where the pastor preaches does not prevent people from fulfilling the "one another" statements in the Bible the remaining 167 hours in the week!