I have a new pair of slippers, which I love. They are glittery, shiny pink: think Dorothy’s ruby red heels, in pink slipper form. These are the kind of wear-them-every-day, with random people commenting “Wow, those sure are bright!” that make me happy to have them on slippers. I even wear them to church. Now, before you start thinking “Oh no, she didn’t!” and snap your fingers, judging me as one of those people who wear house shoes out of the house, let me clarify; I wear them to church, which is in my home.
My family is part of a group that is planting Crossroads Church in Salem MA. We have a website here where you can read all about our mission and vision.There’s a lot there for those who like to read core values and such. For those who don’t, here is the summary: we are “a missional Anglican movement in South Salem, walking with people through the crossroads of life.” It’s an amazing dream, an incredible group of folks I’m working with and very exciting to be part of the birth of something new. But all that is for another post another time. Right now, I’ll share some reflections on what it like to have church in my home.
These reflections stem in part from conversations with extended family members, who usually ask something along the lines of “You’re doing what now?” Some have experience with church at large, and can’t imagine bringing a service into a house (much less your own home) – too many different worlds colliding. Some have little experience with church at all, and can’t quite picture what exactly we are bringing into our house. And a few think it’s plain weird (bordering on cultic).
I suppose there is some truth in all of those concerns. Many of us with church experience associate large gatherings on Sunday mornings as “church.” What changes if you bring that service into a home? Well, nothing and a lot of things. On the one hand, the elements of the service remain the same. We are Anglican and have a Eucharist service from the Book of Common Prayer. We have a make-shift altar and light candles. We have children’s worship in our kitchen, where each kid sprawls on a mat and has space to meet God. On the other hand, we have dinner together afterwards in the same space. We work together to transform living space into worship space, and then work together to transform that same space into common eating area. There is something terribly holy about integrating work, eating, living and worship space. The Christian faith calls for this integration. After all the people, not the building are the church. It’s a chance to experience that reality then in my own home.
This leads to another natural concern: isn’t it inconvenient? Well, of course it is. My family has to change its rhythms to get ready for (and recover from) having 10+ people invade our space, every week.
The reality is, loving and serving people is inconvenient. But ultimately it is what we are called to and what we are made for.
It’s also what I so desperately want this church to be: people who commit to one another and love, in spite of inconveniences. And so we gather here for now. One day we will be too large to reasonably squeeze into our living room. We’re already on the lookout and plan to celebrate our growth with a move to a larger space. In the meantime, we celebrate weekly what God is doing among and through us, and enjoy the intimate setting for both worship and dinner.
Is this weird? Possibly cultic? I guess it depends who you ask. To my kids, this is perfectly normal. Having a regular gathering like this in some ways is the equivalent of the gone-by-the -wayside Sunday dinner at grandma’s house. Since we don’t live close to many extended family members, this becomes that ritual for all the kids who come. The adults (ranging from college age to those with their own grandkids) become surrogate aunts, uncles and grandparents. Eating dinner together each week produces a kind of bond that a generation ago was forged via extended family. It may seem odd to those who currently don’t have such a community – those who live away from family or who function independently in much of their life. But it is a blessing. It’s a gift to be a part of a group where commitment to one another is the norm, and care for one another routine, where we all serve and are served.
I’m looking forward to outgrowing my living room.Celebrating growth and moving to a new meeting place will be a momentous occasion. In the meantime, I relish the opportunity to have church in my home for a little while longer.
Jen – thanks for the description and picture of your new church. You are correct, I think it’s safe to say, most of the family really does not understand what you are attempting to build. I’m happy that you are finding what you want in this endeavor