03 May, 2006

From Church to the Home

There's an article in the Toronto Star today about "churchless religion" which should be an inspiring read to all those who find the benefit of free personal study rather then an education under the watchful eye of the church. Beyond the idea of personal study, it's also great to see people learning and discussing the Bible in an open forum with other interested people. Whether or not this is a long-term trend is obviously yet to be seen but needless to say, it's incredibly refreshing to know there are people out there willing to try and come and to an understanding of God's Word on their own, in their own time, using their own mental capacities instead of underhandedly being spoonfed by "Bible experts".

"He likes the idea that there are no leaders, though the unpaid hosts of the groups tend to act as facilitators of the discussion or suggest Bible passages to be read if no one else does. Regional networks are organized to help home churches with logistical questions of how to organize a weekly gathering, and to pool resources for charity work such as helping developing countries or the disadvantaged closer to home, Zdero says.
But the networks make a point of not acting as spiritual guides, handing down spiritual interpretations or edicts, as might be expected from a church's central organization.
"Each home church remains a self-governing unit," he says.
People are attracted to home churches because they allow people to explore their faith on their own terms, he says, with people who share their views. Costs are shared, but rarely add up to more than it would cost to have a few friends over for dessert once a week."
(Toronto Star, May 3, 200 "Religion, but no church required")

What a great concept: Unpaid group facilitators directing the discussion. Exploring faith and Scripture. Discussing the facts. Aiming for a common understanding. Where opinion is valued and a difficult or awkward question isn't seen as an act of war. This is the epitome of Bible study.

As a regular attendee of these 'in-the-home' Bible discussions with fellow members of my church, I can't express how rejuvenating it is to sit in the same room as a group of people who share the same beliefs I do and then search out God by studying Scripture together. Exploring the Bible using a common ground of understanding provokes great conversation and is often an incentive for private study. I'm not saying a churchless format is the way to go or that group study is the limit we should be going to as servants of Christ, but rather the "assembling together" (Heb. 10:25) of believers, beyond the occasional Sunday morning, is of vital importance as we "see the day approaching". Not only is in-the-home group study a great, casual way to build on relationships with fellow believers, but it also makes meeting together around the memorial table on a Sunday morning a far richer experience. What better way to remember Christ's death and resurrection then with people you love and trust explicitly?

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