April and her family recently decided that God was leading them to move out from their existing Simple Church to start a new community. Here are some of her reflections upon the move ...
"When I ask myself, “Who helps me most?” I must answer, “The one who is willing to share his or her life with me.” [Henri Nouwen]
Last night marked the end of almost three years our house church has been journeying together. We had a nice time of reflection discussing highlights and how we’ve grown and changed together.
It usually takes me a while to fully form an answer to a question like, “After being in community with these people, how are you different now than you were three years ago?” Last night my answer echoed what others said about feeling like our church family has been a safe place to be real, detox from the burnout that often comes as part of conventional church, experience shared leadership, and reduce cynicism and jadedness we carried after being wounded by people in other churches. In addition, the children have grown as they learned to pray, understand Scripture, resolve conflict, and accept each other.
All of that is good and true. However, after more time to think about it, I would clarify my answer:I experienced the power of knowing others and of being known.
In Life of the Beloved Henri Nouwen asks the question, “If all those who shower me with so much attention could see me and know me in my innermost self, would they still love me?” To the extent that I’ve revealed my innermost self to those in my house church, I can say the answer is yes. What a gift that has been! I hope everyone else feels I have extended the same grace to them as they have to me.
Last fall most of the people in our group experienced a significant hardship or tragedy. Many weeks we had nothing to bring other than ourselves. Our meetings consisted of checking in with how everyone was doing, offering (sometimes) weak prayers for one another, and breaking bread. That seems like so little, yet its impact was greater than the most expertly planned worship gathering I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve been blessed throughout my life to have many friends. However, I would venture to say that this group of people knows me better than most other friends past or present. It’s not clear to me why I’ve felt safer on Sunday evenings than in other situations. I’m sure it has much to do with the expectation we mutually possess to share honestly and “put our lives out there” as someone said last night, our commitment to loving one another, and the Holy Spirit guiding us along the way.
For this reason I am sad to venture away from this group and start something new. I will miss Sunday evenings with people who have become family to me in such a short time. But, I also believe that what we’ve had together is something to be shared with others. I believe that in God’s kingdom sharing doesn’t mean less, but more. Where we will end up and with whom I don’t yet know, but I choose to believe that what we will experience in the future will be equally good, if not better, that what we’re leaving behind.
You can read about April's adventures in House Church, particularly as it relates to dealing with the kids, at her blog by clicking here.