For a couple years prior to starting a house church with my wife, I had a vague feeling of discontent with church. I had been playing guitar in the band for almost eight years and had been going since I was a child. I had been involved in the youth group and Young Life as a teen. I wasn’t a stranger to church. I just started realizing that I didn’t enjoy the Sunday morning services unless I was playing guitar and using my gifts in that way. If I was stuck in the audience, I just felt bored.
Of course I felt guilty for feeling this way. People would tell me, “You shouldn’t go to church to be served, but to serve.” Well, fine. But I didn’t really feel like anything was missing if I wasn’t there, either. There are other guitarists out there, and that’s all I really did to help out.
Also, being a thinker, the only thing I have ever really appreciated in a church service was a good sermon. A good sermon to me means that I learn something new or hear a great idea based on Biblical truth, and get encouraged to act on it. During this time in my church, the teaching wasn’t that great and catered to newer Christians. I hardly ever heard anything I hadn’t heard before. This was also boring. “Why am I here listening to stuff I already know,” I asked myself, “When I could be at home listening to something I can learn from?”
On top of feeling bored and discouraged by my feelings toward church, I had an epiphany about small groups. I had been involved with small groups in some way or another since high school, and I loved them. I realized that almost all my personal growth during the past ten years or so had been motivated by my involvement with smaller groups or close friends.
Being a truth seeker, I set out on a journey to find a better system. The more I thought about it, the more problems I saw with the way we “do church” here in the US. What I read in the Bible seemed to differ from the way I had done things all my life. I started thinking about these things a lot and doing a bit of research on house churches.
The rest is history. I gradually became convinced (through many conversations with Jill and others) that we should start a house church. The idea was scary to us both. What would people think? How was it different from just another small group? Why couldn’t we just find another church we liked better? How do you run/lead a house church? The idea was daunting, but I knew it was the way for us.
Fortunately we had some friends around our age in the area that agreed to try it with us. We have been so blessed by their friendship and their contributions to our local body. They ARE my church. They are my brothers and sisters in a very real sense, and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone.
I’ve also discovered that I’m not alone. This is very liberating and encouraging to me – the conclusions I have come to alone are shared by a host of others! The more you look, the more you find people dissatisfied with the traditional church service and want something more. We all need close Christian community, and merely sitting in a service on Sunday morning for an hour doesn’t meet that need.
I don’t assume that the system we use is the *only* way to do things, and I’m sure we could use improvement. But it’s been working well for a few years now, and I can see that God has blessed us through our small church.
Edit: Three years later, I’ve mellowed out a little. I don’t have such a chip on my shoulder regarding large churches. I still enjoy our small church and thank God every week for it. I don’t rant as much about other churches, and have even learned to appreciate many things about them. As we grow in maturity, God shows us that UNITY within the church is far more important than bickering about which church has more (or less) people. I hope I can work toward that while still seeking truth.