Tag Archives: house church

Spirituality of “Hanging out”

As a leader of a community following God in the way of Jesus, this concept of “hanging out” comes with so many mixed feelings. For me personally, it is a wonderfully exciting thing and filled with meaning, but I better explain the other side first. Perhaps it just my own insecurities of what people think I am doing, but I wonder why a church would ever support someone who just hangs out with people. Perhaps it seems to some that I am just making friends and calling that ministry. Perhaps it seems that we are just sitting around drinking coffee, a beer, playing games, or watching a movie. Where is the worth in this? Isn’t leadership supposed to be focused on saving souls (evangelical cynicism… sorry), getting people into the church, helping people feel good about life or maybe give money, helping them grow spiritually, or maybe just letting them know that the church really is there for them. These things don’t come to mind when I tell people that for the most part, I am simply committed to “hanging out” with people. It doesn’t seem purposeful enough.

My own excitement with hanging out stems from the idea that yes, all of those things that I mentioned above are wonderful, but things of real meaning, all those things above, don’t happen without a grounding in a  trusting relationship. At the core of hanging out is a desire to build trust and develop relationships. This, I think, should be at the core of how we do what we are called to do… that is, BE Jesus to the world. We do this through relationships. God has created us in his image, has he not? And isn’t his image, at the core, a relationship (the Trinity)? Love, sacrifice, peace, forgiveness, serving… all connected to relationship.

So as I continue on with my already fuzzy defined ministry of my life, I am beginning to really feel as though the classical sense of what a “pastor” is does not have to be the case. Do I want to be forced into busyness and stretched-thin-ness so that I cannot just hang out with people? What does it mean for me to be a leader… a spiritual leader, a leader that looks like Jesus…? How do I really make a difference with people in their lives? I would have to say I would rather show up at their house and sit on their couch than get them to show up and sit in a pew. I would probably rather spend 5 bucks and two hours over a good cup of coffee than to “donate” 25 bucks to a random nonprofit. I would rather have someone come over and watch a movie or play a game than hope that they “discover God” in “Sunday school.” Church is not in a building. Community, and relationship, and coffee, and beers… these are all church. God’s Spirit is here.


Motion to house church?

During last week’s Sunday night gathering a few of us contemplated the need for the large amount of energy expended to get things set up and taken down at First Presbyterian. We were getting tables set, moving chairs (very uncomfortable ones at that) into a circle, hauling tables (which were extremely heavy), and then taking it all down… probably an hour or more work, for a group of 5 to 10. Was there some other way to have the hospitality, the warmth, the fellowship, and the intimacy without the churchy feel?

Then certain advisers said that we really need to get out of the church building.

Seeing how I am definitely not one to say that buildings and church formalities are necessary for a connection with God, the concept of meeting in a home is an appealing one. At least now, as we are small, there may be something very good to this. I am a little reluctant as the leader of the group to have it in my own home. I just finished Neil Cole‘s book, Organic Church, which is all about house churches. His insight is that it is better to have someone else from the group host as it empowers more people. Any opinions on this?

I never thought, back at Bethel Seminary, that I would ever have anything to do with a “house church” or anything like that. I can’t say that this is exactly that as we are supported by the bigger church, and very much committed to being an “emerging church” in Bend, but hopefully Thorsten Moritz would be proud.

I suppose there will be more reflection on this in the future, but I am wondering for those who manage to stumble on this what feedback you might give. My question above also stands: should a gathering be held at a place other than the leader’s home, or does it really matter?

**Also for those who stumble on this and are from Bend, please contact me if you are interested in having a personal conversation or interested in being a part of our gatherings.