Sometimes it is good to reflect on the stories that come out of "house/simple church." Most stories that we relish are not about something earthshaking taking place, but rather they are about simple events that reflect the culture and lifestyle that has become so special to us...
Led by an Eight-Year-Old
We recently had a significant part of one gathering led by an eight-year-old, precocious, darling little girl by the name of Sarah. She led us in prayer. She shared some songs that she had brought and taught us some hand motions to one of them. Every time a new song would begin, she would shake her hands and say, oooh, I love this song so much. She had the words memorized to every worship song we sang together.
Finally, when the songs finished, she said quite matter-of-factly, "I think God told me that I am suppposed to pray for anyone here who is sick." So she did!
I am sure that, reading this, one would assume that there was a room full of adults patronizing this little "children's church" experience. But really that is the point of this. That was NOT what was taking place. Because we have so embraced the reality that the Holy Spirit works and leads through every member of the body, including the youngest, this room full of adults was as worshipful and as intent on the working of the Spirit as if a "famous spiritual leader" was present in our midst. That's what makes this simple story so powerful. Jesus was present to us through a child... and we got it.
NonChristian Enjoys Worship and Scripture
The house/simple church lifestyle is one of taking the Good News out to the smoking section of life--where people live their lives. Nevertheless... someone recently invited a nonChristian to come to a house church gathering (a rather traditional approach) and this woman came! God can work any ole way he wants to!
In any case, this woman had just faced up to an inevitable divorce and found herself driving home the night of this house church gathering that she had been invited to. She had not intended to come but, in her words, "the car just turned onto this street." When she introduced herself to the rest of the group she said, "I don't know why I am here. I don't even care for Scripture."
Nevertheless, tears fell down her face during a time of worshipful music and when the group opened Scripture to learn from and talk freely about, she shared some powerful insights from her own background that helped illuminate the discussion. I believe what made all of this work for this nonChristian was that we were not engaging in a theological exercise or debate, rather we were sharing our own real life stuff and interacting with Scripture as though it had something to say to us, in our day-to-day needy lives.
As she was leaving, she told her friend that had invited her, "Don't tell those folks, but I really enjoyed the Scripture."
Father Performs Marriage Ceremony for His Son
Sometimes people want to know how house churches handle weddings, funeral, etc. We really like to see these ceremonies revolve around the natural and spiritual extended families as much as possible.
The young man who approached me to marry him was not involved in house church, he was looking for a traditional wedding, he grew up knowing me as a card-carrying pastor, so he asked me to perform the wedding ceremony. However... his parents are involved in house church... so I wondered if I might be able to steer this in a different direction.
Mind you, I am not opposed to stepping into a traditional role when it is insisted upon. I believe those who are getting married should do whatever is most meaningful to them. But, after speaking to his father, I just put the suggestion out to this young man... "What would you think about your own father performing the ceremony?" (It so happens, that in our county, any person can apply for a one-time license to marry someone!)
This young man and his fiance absolutely loved the idea. Though the wedding has not taken place yet, it is already apparent that the meaning of this event has been heightened ten-fold by the family dynamic that is taking place as the ceremony is being planned between father, son, and future daughter-in-law!
Again, these are simple stories that, undoubtedly, have more meaning to those experiencing them than those hearing them. But they do, hopefully, express something of the uniqueness of the simple church lifestyle.
If you have a relevant story to share... feel free to do so in the comments.