"A new commandment I give you,
that you love one another:
just as I have loved you,
you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that
you are my disciples, if you
have love for one another."
~ John 13:34-35
What a blessing it's been to be one among several Home Group members for the past 14 years ~ first in Arizona and now in Washington. As much as I look forward to finding a new Church home for us in the Okanogan Valley, I am equally eager to find (or host) yet another home fellowship.
ARIZONA HOME GROUP
We (the girls) gather for special occasions, like Valentine's Day.
We meet for breakfast after Church
The beauty of such groups is that they make the doing of life together a very powerful thing, especially if the specific church body itself is large. In both of our affiliations, Arizona as well as Washington, our churches have been well over 3,000 people, which is to say that our Home Group has provided a much more personal context in which to study & discuss the scriptures, serve the body & be accountable.
Many have been the occasions to provide meals to an incapacitated member; or to gather & pray (sometimes throughout the night) for someone facing peril (in one case, brain surgery; in another, a biking accident that looked fatal at first and involved ICU; in yet another, a cancer battle that was eventually lost).
What's more, in both places we have served the local community by supporting food banks, joining the larger body when community work-projects are underway, and adopting a women's shelter to provide clothing, Christmas gifts & other support.
My favorite project is one in which we invited a specific neighborhood to an under-the-stars-movie night. We then we borrowed the church's video equipment & screen, set up in a park on the specified evening, & served hot dogs, popcorn & soda for a night of great fun & inspiration (the movie being "Fireproof"). At least 30 guests showed up & lingered long after dark simply to visit & get to know one another (and eat one more hot dog).
We (the guys) meet beforehand when serving the community.
We (the girls) get together for no good reason.
We sit together at Church, &
often serve there together as well.
We (the girls) meet & pray at the flagpole.
We gather when out-of-towners return for a visit.
Thus a smaller group of 16-26 has many advantages. Where we're headed, there isn't a church that numbers over 300 so our experience is likely to be vastly different.
It is worth the telling that we have been blessed by the teaching ministries of several godly pastors, Greg, Ryan, Darius, Art, Paul & others ~ men who are committed to the flock, who shepherd honorably, teach from a biblical/truth-telling perspective, and live out their personal lives with authenticity and honor unto the Lord. Our Home Group connections have never been meant to circumnavigate them or the larger body, but to supplement it. With leaders of their own ~ Eloy, Darrel, Gary, Mike ~ our Home Groups have taken their lead from these noble pastors ~ ordained, as well as lay.
The bonus by-product of our by-gone days in a Home Group is that we have made forever friends. The bonds we've formed span the distance, even eternity. I love it when we visit Arizona (& soon to include Puyallup) and, as if no time had lapsed, join in a study or activity as though we've never left. Modern technology makes it easy to remain tightly bonded by way of email, texts, Facebook and phone calls.
I thank God for the unity we've experienced with our brothers and sisters through the years. We are the richer for it, and bound to grow richer still as we look to His plan for our future connections.
WASHINGTON HOME GROUP
We have summer picnics.
We get together with other Home Groups to play Bunco.
We have Bible studies outdoors.
We share a prayer retreat at the ocean.
But if we walk in the light s He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus His Son
cleanses us from all sin.
~ 1 John 1:7