Our church, Cornerstone, has grown to about almost 400 people. But on Sunday we hosted Home Church, which leads me to my post for Monday. Read “Devastation to Delight in one day”, about the Wadena Tornado and a Bridal Shower, to read the reason why this post is late!
“Managing” When You Outgrow Your Facility!
We’ve “managed” the increased size of our church, as it grew past the capacity of our meeting space over the last few years, in a little different way than many other churches who’ve been in the same situation, who have just added a second or third service. Our main goal was to make it possible to continue meeting in the Community Center which we rent for only $50 a Sunday. We don’t have any paid staff, being elder-led by three men who each have full-time jobs, and we strive to keep church programs to a minimum, therefore not requiring a secretary, etc. All of these facts make it possible for our church, a non-denominational church, to be debt-free, and to be the primary and substantial supporters of a number of missionaries around the world, as well as to help people in our congregation whenever they have a need. To keep the number in attendance at church each Sunday in compliance with the fire code regulations, the leaders came up with a rather unique solution. They divided up the whole church (by geographical area) into 6 “Small Churches” or “Home Churches”. Each Sunday, one or two of these groups is “out”, meeting at an off-site location–either a home or public meeting place. It is up to each group to decide on a location for the meeting. One of the groups has become very large, as most of its people come only to its meeting, coming from quite a distance further north. They meet every other Sunday. The rest of our groups meet approximately once a month. Leading, and responsible for, each of these “Small Churches” are two or more “elders”, who were appointed by our elders. The Small Church leaders aren’t official elders of our church, but they would fit the category of an elder, Biblically. They’re spiritually mature, wise and knowledgeable in the Scriptures, having their homes and children under control. Most of them are also the older/oldest men in the church. Each Small Church service and sermon topic follows that of the “Big” Church, and these “elder” men take turns preaching.
Principle of Ownership (relearned)
One of these “Small Churches” meets in our home, and my husband is one of two “elders” who lead it. Our group is one of two groups in our area which happen to be smaller than the others, having only about 35 people in each. This past Sunday we were even a little smaller than that, as some were sick, or couldn’t make it, because of Father’s Day. This particular Sunday, we followed the service with a Potluck. We were blessed with good weather and everyone was able to be outside for at least part of the afternoon. When we first began hosting “Small Church” and one or two of the Small Church groups were “out” each Sunday, I didn’t like it. I especially didn’t like when we were the ones “out”, not wanting to miss being all together with everyone at Big Church for even one Sunday, and also having to learn a lot of lessons about the Principle of Ownership. Sadly, I have had to relearn this lesson I thought I’d mastered: that God provided and owns everything I have, and just allows me to use it while I’m here on earth. He has had to teach me all over again that He expects me to use my home and everything in it for His glory, and that He will take care of it. He has tested me, and I failed repeatedly at first, and I often was in tears on Sunday morning, as He tried to train me not to hold on to “my” home with my tight little fist, saying, like a toddler, “Mine, mine!” It is not becoming of a Christian to be worrying during communion whether the grape juice will be spilled on the carpet, instead of thinking about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and the fact that He didn’t even have a place to lay His head at night, and He unselfishly gave up His home in glory, to come to earth and die on a cross, so that I could be saved! It’s really pathetic, but true, that this was my state at one time. I’m grateful that the Lord is so patient with me.
Thankfully, in time, I’ve come to enjoy our Small Church group. I can now see the benefits: it has enabled us to get to know others more intimately; we can share more deeply and transparently our prayer requests, testimonies, and our lives and it has caused a number of men to grow in ability to shepherd a smaller group. Not to mention, allowing us to stay in one location with minimal cost. My husband, as well as others, have had the opportunity to grow in preaching and leadership skills and have been “forced” to intensely study the Word of God! We, as a family, have been taught lessons in humility and service through opening our home. So, bottom line, I’m grateful that we have Home Church!
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