Friday our daughter-in-law messaged us to see if they could come to our house for worship on Sunday. Of course the answer was YES!
Now, that may not make sense unless you know what happens behind the scenes these days. When we are not meeting onsite (when the campus is closed) the worship team records the service ahead of time, and then streams it Sunday as a simulated live event. So, even though I'm "on stage," my experience Sunday mornings is just like yours. Wendy, Bekah, and I sit on the couch and watch the service together. It's become a nice tradition these past several months. (Did I just say several months?!)
But this past Friday, Kailey asked if she and Micah and baby Kaiden could come over Sunday for worship. That sounded like a great idea! In fact, a couple weeks ago I blogged here about hoping to see that sort of thing happen!
She brought homemade cinnamon rolls and the six of us sat on the couches and watched the worship service. I can't say we were terribly disciplined about it. We tended to talk during it. Having people over is typically a social event and this felt like a social event. But I think if we were to do it more often, we would become accustomed to settling in and being present to it.
We gathered for worship. We raised our hands for the blessing. Then we started getting ready for lunch. I think that, to do it over again, I would ask if we could pray together when it was done. That would've been nice. Next time.
But yesterday we started getting ready for lunch. Then six others joined us for a total of twelve. We had invited them Friday, saying that we'd grill burgers if everyone else just brought something to share. We didn't organize it too much, we just let people bring what they wanted. And we ate good. Afterward we had some homemade cheesecake that Wendy had made the day before.
Then we all hung out for awhile, and eventually people went home. It was a good morning/afternoon.
I napped a little.
Then at 6:30pm we had some teens over for our weekly Bible study. We talked about the morning teaching, reading through the scriptures I had used, plus some. We talked about the challenges and encouragements of what it means to follow Christ in this. And we prayed for each other. We finished those conversations by probably 8pm, and then most of them just hung out talking for another couple hours.
I went upstairs to join Wendy who was on her weekly Zoom meeting with her family in Oregon and Paraguay. They do that every week for at least a couple hours. I said my heys and then came back downstairs to join the other conversation. Soon enough Wendy came back downstairs, about the same time people were heading out.
Then Bekah went up to her room, and Wendy and I spent a couple hours on the couch watching our latest TV series.
It was a full day. A very full day. Our house was full. I'm a little tired, but my heart is full.
I write all that to give a real world picture of what it can look like to open your house. Because my dream is that, even when the church building is closed, the church homes are open. And my hope is that even after the church building reopens (again), the church homes will still be open.
Most people like that idea, but don't want to do it themselves. It feels overwhelming because we imagine it as a huge thing like what Wendy and I did yesterday. And that would be overwhelming if it was every day, or if it fell to one person to make it all happen.
But I want to put you at ease here: It doesn't have to be like that. Really, it could be a 90 minute experience with no more to eat than crackers and juice. (Seriously. I'll get to that.)
If you've paid attention to my teaching for any length of time, you've heard me cite Acts 2:42. The whole paragraph goes to verse 47. It describes how the believers related to each other after the Holy Spirit was poured out onto them. Let's read it and then :
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Can you imagine if that was our experience? Picture us doing life as a family of believers, where we spend time discussing the scriptures together, and praying together, but we also just do life together. We help each other in tangible ways, we meet together regularly in whatever we relate to as "the temple courts," we eat together in our homes, we share our lives with others and they share their lives with us. We're family. Imagine that.
Again, most of us like the thought, but pull back at the implementation. We like going to church, but going to someone's home, or having them come over to ours?! We've lost that as a culture. We're intimidated by that.
To be sure, not everyone has a hospitality gift, and this certainly is opportunity for "hosts" to shine. But you don't have to be great at hosting parties to be good at having people over for worship.
In fact, I want to dumb this down so everyone can consider doing it. Here's my handy dandy step by step guide to having people over for worship. (Disclaimer: I'm not suggesting a reckless exposure to Covid. Try to embrace the heart of what I'm saying and then use your best judgment in the application of it.)
Step by Step Instructions for Opening Your Home for Worship
Parts of that may feel natural to you, and other parts may not, but none of it needs to feel forced. Just open up your home this Sunday to one or two others, maybe three. Ask them to come worship with you! And let's see what God does among us.
Who might you invite this week?
Pastor of Sarasota Community Church since 2009.