Last Saturday night my wife and I spent the evening a friend's house. Her husband is currently away for a month at Warrant Officer school. She has been taking care of their children by herself while he is away. I think she enjoyed having some adult conversations for a change. Over dinner, we talked about many things including our desire for a simple church where we can be free to follow the Spirit of God.
Rene and her family do not attend any church nor associate with other Christ-Followers. When I asked her if she was part of a church she said that they had "tried" several churches out and found them lacking. In her opinion, the people she meet seemed to be rather fake.
I mentioned that she should have given them some time as people don't open up easily around here. Her reply as passionate,
"Six months of going to a church and not making any real friends is time enough. Besides, they expected us to be at church every Sunday, Wednesday and attend a Bible study. You were made to feel like a 2nd class Christian if you did not. We simply did not have the time to do things as a family living by that schedule. My husband decided that if it was a choice between doing things as a family or going to Church, family time wins."
Rene's attitude is indicative of the "Family Centric" mentality of the Suburb that I live in. I don't blame her for it one bit. I'm rather sympathetic to her cause. Since my wife and I have been working, we don't have the time together that we used to. Our days fly by and our is at a premium in our lives. If the Lord wills, we hope to adopt a child and I'm more than certain that my bias toward spending time with those I love will only increase when we do.
It was in the context of this conversation that Renee shocked us. She mentioned that she is interested in the Simple Church idea and would come celebrate with us. My wife and I have not been "recruiting" people, we feel that God would have us simply make friends and live life with them. (I find pastors who are always recruiting people to join their church to be a boor.)
I mentioned to Rene that what our small social group is not a church in the typical sense of things. While we do gather to celebrate God, our Quest is to live as Christ-Followers wherever we are rather than trying to build a church to invite people to. Its not a service to attend, it is a way of life.
Rene said that they do not have time to play church and believe that you do not have to attend a church to be Christians. Hmmm...more people to experience God with. A very cool thing if you ask me. This alternate community of Christ-Followers may be growing organically.
So far, God has been drawing people on the fringe of Christianity to us. We meet people who have had some or very little church experience and find it lacking. A few of them would call themselves Christ-Followers but most of them would not. Being a Christ-Follower is not a prerequisite to sharing life within a community. I think its cool that they want to hang with us and get to know us better.
Think about it. Jesus disciples lived with him. Their community was more of a comune that anything we do in our industrialized nuclear family age we live in. I think the closest analogy in our times is the extended family. It is my prayer that this little community God is growing becomes an extended family of sorts. Living life together, sharing pains and hurts, supporting one another and giving glory to God. Wait a minute....did I just describe what the church is supposed to be?
(A quick side note: I can't stand the "doing life together" language. We don't do life, we live it.)