Worshiping With A House Church

My wife and I had an unusual and wonderful experience this Sunday (May 12).  We worshiped that morning with a local house church.  We had been invited by the minister and his wife.  Both of them have been walking with both of us through the transition we are making (ending our current ministry and returning to our home state of Ohio to begin a new ministry; a far emotionally-tougher transition than I imagined it to be) and they invited us to be with their house church on Mother’s Day.  Although neither of us have been to a house church before, we accepted, and I’m glad we did.

This is the name of the house church and a link to their site.

We were a little late getting to the church.  We got to the house about 10 minutes late.  I wasn’t sure, then, what we would find.  I imagined we would be let in by the homeowners had we been on time, but I didn’t know what would happen once we were late.  Would the door be opened?  Would we have to knock?  Would we just go inside on our own (which, to a a-man’s-home-is-his-castle-and-should-not-be-violated guy like me would be very difficult to do)?  As it turned out, there was a sign on the door telling us that services would start soon and to let ourselves in, which we did.  As we went inside, we discovered worship was already in full swing and the living room was already full.  Our minister friends saw us and welcomed us, offering us a space on the couch, but we chose to let others take that space and stand in the adjoining kitchen.

As worship went on, I was very surprised and delighted to discover both how large and how diverse the group was.  There were about 35 of us there (and the minister told me there are sometimes 50).  There were men and women and children.  There were young and old adults.  There were Caucasians, African-Americans, and Latinos.

Overall, the service was far more vibrant than what I expected.  The minister told me they made some mistakes in the worship and the service.  I caught a few of those (I saw the guitarist look at the lead singer one time, obviously not sure what she was doing and how he needed to react), but they were not a big deal.  What was a big deal was the level of fellowship and worship.  We truly connected with God during this time and we connected with each other as well.  That, I believe, is what a church needs to be.  As I see it, church (both the group and the service) is intended by God to do two things: 1) lead people into a transformative interaction with Him, and 2) enable believers to strengthen and be strengthened by each other.  We have made church do many other things today, and maybe some of those things aren’t bad, but if we are doing these two things, we aren’t succeeding as a church.  I thought this house church succeeded in doing that despite its relative small size and whatever mistakes may or may not have been made.  That makes it a success in my eyes, and I believe it makes it a success in God’s eyes, too.

 

Losers Like Us

I’ve been down with a cold the past two days.  Unable to work, I decided to catch up on some books I have purchased but not read.  One of those was Losers Like Us by Daniel Hochhalter.

 

This book was on my Amazon wish list for quite awhile (like so many books, it spent a lot of time on my wish list because I was too cheap to buy it outright).  When I was given a $7 Barnes & Noble credit from some class action suit I was wholly unaware of being in, I finally bought it from them, then converted it through Calibre and put it on my Kindle.

I was attracted to this book for one simple reason: I regard myself as a loser.  I know I’m a loser but I want to do ministry, so a book about losers doing ministry was a no-brainer for me.

I was not disappointed when I finally got around to reading it yesterday.  The book is basically a run-down of Jesus twelve disciples (The Twelve, not counting Matthias or Paul), all of who were losers or at least lacking in one way or another.  Hockhalter not only reveals what these men were lacking, but he also shows how he is lacking that thing as well.  As he puts it, he holds these men in the mirror and sees how he is similar to them.  Along the way, he talks about some of the other ways he has lost in life, including a failure to acquire a PhD.

I liked the book so well I read it in one day (almost one sitting, to be exact).  I thought the author was very brave to share his loser-ness the way he did, and I thought his principle that we are all losers/God uses losers was sound.  I was both convicted and encouraged, and that’s about the best you can ask for.

One particular insight I had as I was reading concerned Jesus’ praying for the twelve on the night before He chose them (Luke 6:12).  I had always figured that Jesus was praying for the ability to chose “the right guys” and that by God’s power He did so.  I see now that there is nothing “right” about these guys, that they weren’t chosen because they were right but right because they were chosen.  I wondered, in fact, if what Jesus was praying for was not the ability to chose correctly but the ability to put up with those who were chosen.  That’s speculation, of course, but the key insight is correct.  There is nothing “right” about these men (except maybe a willingness to follow or a teachable spirit).  And there is nothing “right” about me, either.  I’m not right.  I am a loser.  But I’ve been chosen and can do the work.

I highly recommend this book.  You can get it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  There is also a hard copy for you luddites who don’t use ereaders.