When the leader of our Northland Church Letters of Paul Bible Study recently proposed changing our traditional Bible study class to a home church Bible study class, the atmosphere in the meeting room grew charged. The lights seemed suddenly brighter, the soft hum of the electronics suddenly louder, the air suddenly cooler. Most of us sat with all senses sharpened to everything around us as if an alarm had been sounded—because an alarm had been sounded. Robert had introduced the possibility of change.
Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, all the way back five hundred years before Christ, espoused the idea that change is central to the universe. Since his time, philosophers and writers in every century have reiterated that idea. We all experience change daily and recognize it. Why, then, does it alarm us so?
Those of us here at Northland should be especially able to embrace change or at least sigh with resignation when it is announced because shaking things up is Northland tradition! We should be accustomed to doing things new ways. We should be confident that the changes will be Bible-centered. We should know that we will have a considered voice and, if desired, a role to play. And we are and do. So what is with this home-church alternative that disturbs us? And how do we move to embrace it?
A home church, as I understand it, involves its members in Bible-centered activities, such as study and prayer, and in relationship building within what becomes a close Christian family. We already had the Bible study and prayer; what we were lacking is the closeness of family-type relationships with each other.
Why would moving toward such a family-type relationship disturb us? After thinking about what I felt in my alarm and what I heard others voice in their alarm, I think it may be our fears of sharing our personal lives and homes (if we move occasionally to other homes), of losing our anonymity, of transparency, or of inadequacy in spiritual maturity or in Bible knowledge, or of all those fears! We have been comfortable, relaxed, intimate only in the Bible study part of the class. Now, we will have more intimacy regarding personal as well as spiritual lives, even eating together—one of the most basic of all relationship experiences.
In my alarm at Robert’s announcement, I immediately thought, “But I don’t cook!” Another member said, “Our house is too small!” Someone else was concerned that there would be a chair problem, a parking problem, a décor problem. Then, I thought of those concerns that were not my own: “We would be a family! No problem! We don’t have to go to everyone’s house; we don’t mind sitting on lawn chairs, we can park and meet and ride together, we are there for each other, not to judge a house or décor!” And then I realized that if those other concerns are not insurmountable, my not cooking may not be insurmountable either. I may be able to conquer the problem by depending on Publix or Panera or any number of grab-and-go gourmet shops!
And for those worried about their lack of Bible knowledge or their inadequacy in spiritual maturity, isn’t that why we sought out a class? Aren’t we there to learn? Isn’t to “take our ordinary life . . . and place [it] before God” with other maturing Christians how we grow in spiritual maturity?
Aren’t changes that contribute to knowledge and maturity to be sought, celebrated, appreciated? If we must accept that change is inevitable, that it “is a-coming,” shouldn’t we most desire being with family—people committed to Christ and to us and to care of others—when it comes?