The seeds for home church planting were in our hearts long before we realized what it was. It all started one afternoon when my neighbors were smoking pot across the street. I was not a happy home owner! I went in the house, picked up the phone and started to dial 911 when the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to me:
"You want to put them in prison when I've called you to set them free."
I was stunned. I put the phone down and later when I went to bed, the conversation continued.
"You don't care about them," He said. "And you don't care about them because you don't love them."
And I knew He was right. I really didn't care if they died and went to hell but I started to care after that day. Jarrod and I were talking about this (in between feeling numb after the obligations of work, church, and kids) and he said with an honesty I admire, "I don't want to invite them to church. What are we gonna do? Put on our Sunday best and walk up to the door and ask them to come? That's not even me and I'm going to expect them to do that?"
Keep in mind our neighbors (in fact all of our neighbors) were the "hell yeah" crowd with long hair, heavy metal music and hemp shirts to go with the hemp fragrance, if you get my drift. They probably wouldn't darken the door of a church and we knew it. It wasn't anything against our church. It just wasn't going to fly for these guys.
I didn't even know what I was doing but I suddenly took an interest in them...in any way I could and it was genuine. Their kids were friends with our kids so why couldn't the adults play too? No I didn't light up a "fatty" but I found myself joking around with them and suddenly my neighbor was confiding in me about her marriage, her family, sharing things about her kids and her career.
We were building a relationship and I didn't even realize it. Then I got bold enough to pray for her a couple of times. He asked Jarrod to watch the house when they were gone and we did. Jarrod took care of their puppy when it was ran over and the neighbor couldn't get there before his kids saw it. I started befriending and counseling with a woman, a notorious drinker and outcast every where she went. I can still remember her tears as she told me in broken sentences and a raspy voice what my friendship meant to her. We started thinking it was time to start a Bible study and then maybe we could get them in church. But hey, we thought, why bother if they're gathering here? I mean they would be born again, reading the Word and following Christ so a building didn't seem necessary.
And then the house sold.
Bye bye mission field, we want to live in the country and be an island to ourselves in case the end of the world happens. Yeah. We wanted to grow our own food. Be self sustaining.
Then we moved in with my parents and after six months of not finding our dream farm land life, Jarrod said, "Maybe the Lord doesn't want us to live in the country." That same afternoon we found our house, smack dab in the middle of town. A giant at 2,500 square feet , it was glorious historic romance. Perfect for a writer. Built in 1903 by a musician, it was perfect for Jarrod, a musician....it was right up our alley and we jumped in with both feet.
Two years go by. We're restless and dissatisfied in church but can't figure out why. We're tired of the church regimen. We're tired of not being able to speak up during a sermon with questions or offer scriptures that provide clarity or balance or even just cheer on the pastor or add our own testimony to the sermon. We're tired of not having the opportunity to really get to know people because we spend the entire service staring at the back of everyone's heads. But most of all, we know that God has called us to do something and sitting on a pew for the rest of our lives wasn't it. Youth ministry wasn't it. Homeless ministry wasn't it. The food pantry, children's church...wasn't it.
In the meantime I'm writing articles about how pastors, missionaries, and evangelists started in ministry. They all pretty much tell me the same thing. God called them, they answered, and it was crazy but they obeyed God no matter what. It stirred in us the desire to follow their example.
We kept "bumping" into the concept of home church and started putting two and two together. As we read about it's Biblical basis, the benefits of a more natural way of doing church in a home and how it worked, we both knew THIS was what God planted in us years before. We were reaching our neighbors through relationship, through real communication and practically living out the Gospel right in front of them.
After several confirmations and finally just being pushed out of our nest like a mother bird launches her hesitant chicks, we left our church spring of 2011. After about three months of waiting, praying and just plain being scared we began meeting in our home. My parents, our neighbors, another couple we didn't even know very well. Since then we've seen one of our neighbors come to Christ and is growing stronger all the time. We're impacting the children on our street. We're living the gospel right in our living room, in the neighborhood, everywhere we go, all the time. Our prayer is that neighborhood by neighborhood we will win this city for Christ.
It's changing our lives, it's changing our neighborhood and we've never looked back.