(Portions of an article about our house church in the Washington Post)

"Going to Church by Staying at Home"

Clergy-Less Living Room Services Seen as a Growing Trend

By Michael Alison Chandler and Arianne Aryanpur

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, June 4, 2006; Page A12


After Sunday dinner at Joe Rodgers's Rockville home, guests adjourn to the living room for church.

In his makeshift chapel, wooden kitchen stools and a floral print couch act as pews, a portable keyboard substitutes for an organ and the host, an electronics technician by day, serves as pastor.

But just as there is no formal name or dress code for this church, there is no sermon or pastor-led prayer. When it came time to bow their heads on a recent May evening, each of the 10 adults in attendance had something to contribute: One man prayed for success with his new fitness program; another sought guidance as he prepared for his upcoming marriage.

The worshipers have different faith backgrounds, including evangelical, Episcopalian and Catholic. What they share is a dissatisfaction with traditional church services. "You can't ask questions in most churches. You might make an appointment with the pastor, get in his daybook for a quick lunch," said Rodgers, 50.

A growing number of Christians across Washington and around the country are moving to home churches -- both as a way to create personal connections in the age of the megachurch and as a return to the blueprint of the Christian church spelled out in the New Testament, which describes Jesus and the apostles teaching small groups in people's homes.

Estimates vary widely for a movement that is by design informal and decentralized, but the consensus among home-churchers is that they are part of a growing trend. George Barna, a religion pollster, estimates that since 2000, more than 20 million Americans have begun exploring alternative forms of worship, including home churches, workplace ministries and online faith communities. Barna based that figure on surveys of the religious practices and attitudes of American adults that he has conducted over the past 25 years.

"These are people who are less interested in attending church than in being the church," said Barna, who became a home-churcher last year. The alternatives are attractive to those who want to deepen their relationships with God and one another, and they also suit Americans' growing taste for flexibility and control of their schedules, he said.

...Home churches are usually nondenominational and consist of a dozen or so friends or family members who often meet without an ordained pastor.They have historically proliferated in countries with repressive regimes. In China, millions of people have converted to Christianity in unauthorized home churches over the past half-century. But the United States has seen only intermittent swells of activity. ...

Critics of the home-church movement warn that, by meeting only in small groups with lay leaders, Christians could become disconnected and stray from orthodox beliefs.

...Many traditional churches do have midweek Bible study groups or cell churches. For some, these can be a first taste of home church, said Greg Windsor, a real estate developer and a member of the Rockville congregation that meets in Rodgers's home. Windsor, 48, became interested in home churching almost 10 years ago while he was attending a megachurch in Montgomery County.

"The person sitting next to you in the pew could be close to dying, but people don't really know one another," he said. By abandoning the steeple, the pastor and the crowds of people, Windsor said, his tiny congregation is trying to live according to the New Testament.

"A lot of embellishments happened over the centuries," Windsor said. The modern Christian church is "like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy," he said. "It starts getting distorted and changed."

Windsor and his wife started reading about home churches and broke off from a bigger church to meet with a group in northern Maryland. After several years, that group grew too large -- about 30 people -- and the couple broke off again, starting the home church in Rockville. Stripped to its most basic elements, he said, his group can focus on developing "deep friendships" and "helping one another grow spiritually."

The service changes from week to week, depending on what members are going through or thinking about; they might organize a Bible study or discussion around managing their finances or overcoming depression.

On a recent Sunday, they watched a film by Focus on the Family that chronicles the lives of early Christians and their attempts to convert the Greeks. Afterward, they talked about how those experiences compare with challenges in spreading the faith today.

They sang hymns and put money into a small cardboard box, to be donated to homeless programs and victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. As the Communion bread and wine were passed around the circle, music played while others swayed and whispered "Oh God" and "Merciful God."

By about 9 p.m., it was time to go home. But Windsor said church does not end when the service is over. Members might meet several times during the week, and church can continue over coffee at Starbucks or during a biblical discussion at a family barbecue.

For them, church is not tied to a building or confined to a couple hours a week, he said. "It's a way of life."



Full article http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/03/AR2006060300225_3.html


Note : There are some things in this article that dont reflect exactly what we are about , If you would like to know more about us, please contact us by email at windsor@upwardcall.net

In Gods grace,

Tom Windsor



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