The fresh out of college marketing grad was getting the tour on her first day of work and her manager said, "How it works around here is we sit by this magic well, and we write down ideas for campaigns and take turns throwing them into the well. Then we wait for a magic voice to come out of the well and it tells us which ideas are worth using." So the new girl said, "Really? You mean that's all we do every day?" And the manager said, "Yeah, that's really it. Except Thursday is your day in the well."
That joke, to me, describes what simple/house church was like. But worse. Every day was everyone's day in the well. Another marketing/sales mantra also applies - "If it is to be it's up to me." No, you say, it's not up to us. The life of the church is entirely up to God. Yeah. I agree. And it's also up to all of us, too.
A whole different mentality threatens those comfortable platitudes when folks stop just showing up, and start realizing someone has to actually make things happen. Lay people who move into house churches can get just a taste of the pressure professional ministers deal with, but without the full time position, resources and salary. How do we "do church" when the "doing" is supposed to be up to God? We don't. We really can't. And yet, we have to do something, or else we do nothing.
That may sound like a silly conundrum to some, but the shift is honestly enough to blow most pew sitters' poor little minds - and then blow them right back to their pews. The list of things that other people used to take care of... things that tithers who check in to be service'd can blissfully just take for granted... the sheer vastness of practical and interpersonal issues, both major and miniscule... the needs of a functioning body that decides to try feeding itself... let alone the wisdom and skill necessary for helping the body grow closer to Jesus Christ, spiritually... Let me assure you of one thing. It is hard work not having a Pastor.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'd jump in again in a heartbeat, if now was my time. But now's not my time. So the reason I'm saying this is to explain a quick little announcement that just might shock a few longtime, devoted readers. *I have begun attending a Sunday School slash cell group that meets at the Baptist Big Box by our house.* Yep. And I like it. It's really nice, so far. They don't care if we skip the service. We've made friends who are interested in what I'm doing. More importantly, some of them genuinely seem to care about the Lord. (Because, you know, that's always a plus!)
Seriously, why am I doing this? Two reasons. Partly to show that I can. But mainly because these days I must. I decided two years ago I could not give all my spare time to historical research and also live in the church. I couldn't stand not giving my all to her. It wasn't fair. It was actually torture. But I feel strongly that I need to do what I'm doing - blogging, and working on my first manuscript. (Btw, look for an update on that soon.)
Our ten years in experimental house church were days of glory and pain, and I wouldn't give them up for anything. I hope to get back to something similar, sometime. But these years are our resting years, because of my research. I just can't work in two wells at once.
We'll see how this goes. The truth is, I need to be part of a small group whose welfare won't be diminished if I merely attend. So far, I seem to have found some wonderful saints. They're happy in the Big Box, and I'm happy hanging out with them. Especially the ones who love the Lord! Hopefully, this also proves I'm really not white knuckled about ecclesiology, but that would just be a bonus.
Whatever works, works. Whatever is scriptural, is scriptural. Whatever is not, isn't. And whatever helps christians evangelize each other to Jesus Christ, that is what helps us spur one another on to love and good works in Him. I really don't care about the rest of what people do, unless what people do is inhibiting the goal - Christ increasing until He fills All in All.
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Oh. And whatever you do, feel free to spend more days down in the well.