It is easy to think of the Church as the Sunday thing we do. Especially when Church is 20 minutes away from home. We drive there and “do church” and drive back and then life continues. What do we do now that Church is in the house? How do we make the divide between Church and Life? Are they two different things? Have we been missing out on “abundant Life” because of placing Church in a one-event-a-week box?
Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Luke 9:23
It seems to me that we are pilgrims in this world and Jesus has provided the Church so that we don’t have to walk alone. In the most extreme cases of isolation, the comfort of Christ’s presence and the Church praying for grace and strength is always evident. We have a community of faith, a family where Christ is the Shepherd that we follow.
There is so much to learn and obey from the Bible verse in Luke 9. But, I want to point out the word “daily” and comment on it. Following Christ is not a weekly thing, but an ongoing thing. We take a step behind his steps on a regular basis. Under the “before the virus” circumstances, we could take steps with Christ at work, in the car, at lunch, during our meetings, when we go shopping, at the park with the kids and of course, at home. I am not talking about hitting people with the Bible, I am rather referring to the exercise of living an abundant life in Christ as we follow Him. If Christ doesn’t fit in every day of our life, then it might not be life at all.
These days, circumstances have us all, and I mean ALL, on lockdown or quarantined in our homes so I think that it is a good opportunity for us to re-focus, re-calibrate our lives to original design specifications. Back to the basics. To be still, to be quiet, to be thankful, to realize that He is God and we are not. God has allowed this virus to disturb and basically stop the whole world for the same reason he allows or sends many other issues to our lives: to call us to Himself.
People keep saying that they are going crazy at home, this probably has to do with the hectic lifestyle we usually have. A life full of noise and accelerated demands that distract us, separate us or makes us forget our abundant life available in Christ. The gift of house church helps us remember that the Church is the way we do life as followers of Christ. If we can use this time to figure out how to be the church at home, there is a good chance we can be calibrated to go out into the world, shine for Jesus, begin to find believers in many places and start having church experiences on a daily basis as it is meant to happen.
How can we start to re-calibrate? Well, I think it starts with spending time with God, in His word and in thankfulness. There is a lot more I could write about personal time with God, but let me focus on the House Church experience, which means that it will involve someone else, hopefully, the whole family. For people who live alone, it could involve a neighbor or friend you can trust that is not out ignoring the recommendations of the government regarding this virus. I guess I could also suggest the online face to face fellowship through internet technologies. But, I do want to be very careful with this tech solution because it should never be used instead of having in-person fellowship with people who are in the house unless there are issues of persecution or abuse involved.
The format I want to suggest is daily devotions.
This is a time when the family gathers for a short time of Bible reading, sharing what we are thankful for and praying for help with needs we know of.
It usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on attitudes, silliness, endurance, prayer needs and desire to discuss.
We have used family devotions for years and years to read, little by little, through entire books of the Bible.
To put things in perspective let me share a little about my family and hopefully, you will see how this could maybe work for you. I have four kids, the youngest is a sophomore in high school, then I have a Senior graduating high school, another son in 3rd year of college and my daughter is finishing her last semester of masters online from home because of the virus crisis. Seven years ago we were going through a serious transition and personal crisis so I decided to start a consistent time of family devotions with the kids who in those days were in Elementary school, Junior High and College.
It’s taken us seven years of hard work to have this simple daily routine in our house. As the kids grow older we’ve had to adapt and be more flexible to their needs. The kids have also tried as much as possible to keep committed to our family devotions, knowing that it is short and meaningful.
In our house, it happens at 7 pm because at seven is when all screen playtime ends. Believe me, defining this line was a declaration of war for many years but keeping it has opened the space for many things including time with God as a family. After a few years, the kids negotiated Friday and Saturday as “no devotions days” and even tho it was hard for me to give in, we came to terms and it was good. We also decided to offer a family movie on Friday and Saturday for those who were in the house and wanted to join. Balancing this out has worked well for us.
We had done devotions before when the kids were little and it looked a bit different. Sometimes before bedtime, sometimes in the morning but the consistency of the last 7 years has helped us create a concrete routine. It has not been easy. I have been humbled many times by failure, by inconsistencies in my life and sin. The family doesn’t miss a thing! God only knows how tempted I have been so many times to just give up and quit. It has been a spiritual war and only God deserves the glory for allowing us to continue to work on it. I am so glad it has become a routine in our lives to stop everything in the house when it is time for family devotions. There are nights when one of the kids has a school game and some don’t make it. There are times when we wait a little to accommodate someone’s schedule. There are times I have come home late from work and the kids are already finishing homework which is what they do after 7:30pm and so we skip.
Sundays we try to plan something a little creative. We do all kinds of things from playing bible-charades to having bible-based contests and prices. But, the core Bible reading and prayers are always there. You would laugh if I shared some of the things that we say and do. Some of them, not very “church” like… but don’t be mistaken, it is the Church and I think God laughs with us as we spend time with him in all our silliness.
I invite you to pray about starting a daily devotional time with your House Church today and later learn to integrate Church into all the places where you meet believers. It makes the journey with Jesus more abundantly.
Because He lives,