We have our second monthly meetup here in Sarasota a week from this Saturday, October 2nd at 5pm. More information about that at the end of this post.
But first I want to tell you about our first X242 microchurch including an encouraging comment we recently received.
Our first microchurch is almost thirteen!
Wendy and I continue to have church here in our home. It's just a dozen of us as a “Beta group” to see what it’s like. Tonight will be our 12th meeting so we're just a week away from knowing what it feels like to be together for thirteen weeks — three months — which is what we're asking people to commit to.
I don't think it's premature to say, This is good!
We landed early on the following rhythm and haven't needed to change so far. That's not to say we won't ever change it up. We just haven't needed to yet. And there's something satisfying about a stubbornly simple way of meeting.
Here's how we do it:
1. We share a common meal in fellowship with each other.
We typically gather around 6pm for dinner and fellowship. Responsibility for the food part of this rotates between a few whose schedules and abilities make it possible to do it. We gather around and pray, and then we get our food and sit down, enjoying fellowship the whole time. Sometimes during the meal we'll talk through nuts and bolts type things like planning a service project or something. But we usually just talk about life type things, just catching up. Just friendship.
2. We study the apostles' teaching in fellowship with each other.
After dinner we move to the living room where we open to the next chapter in Luke. We've all been studying it on our own for the past week, but we read it through again, this time out loud, with various people reading different sections. Then I ask, "What jumped out at you?" and we talk about it until we're done talking about it. For us, that usually runs a little better than an hour. But there's no pressure to make it go long or to keep it short. We just want to discover what God is showing us in scripture.
The reason we do it this way is because we're devoting ourselves "to the apostles' teaching." We're gathering around, inviting the apostles into the room, so to speak, and just letting them teach. None of us prepares a lesson. We all just engage the lesson that was preserved for us as scripture as if it's the apostles teaching us.
This isn't to say it's wrong to have someone teach a lesson or preach a sermon. Of course not. But my sense is that Christians have become too dependent upon "good preachers" for a "fresh word" or a "new inspiration." We've lost confidence in the Holy Spirit to illuminate the scriptures as we prayerfully contemplate them in fellowship with each other.
I say this somewhat self-consciously as a preacher and teacher who still has something to preach and teach! And ironically, one of the things I need to teach right now is that we need to renew our devotion to the scriptures as the sermon! And my hope is that through this restoration of the way we do church, we will do just that.
I think about it this way: The New Testament scriptures are the sermons taught by the apostles! Sometimes they were written directly by one of the twelve apostles (Matthew, Peter, John), or by a converted apostle (Paul, James), or by one of those apostle's disciples (Mark, Luke). But they were all written so that we might know what they believed and taught! As Luke says in his opening statement (Luke 1:1-4), "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled a among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."
So, every time we gather in my living room and open the scriptures, it's like we have invited Luke to come and tell us what he thinks is important for us to know — which is what Paul told him was important to know, which is what the other apostles told him was important to know. So, rather than listening to a teacher/preacher like myself explain in my own words what Luke said, we just gather around and "listen" to Luke say it in his own words.
Our goal is simply to know Jesus, so we devote ourselves to the apostles' teaching.
3. We spend time in prayer, in fellowship with each other.
And then we take time to talk about each other's needs and celebrations, and then we spend time in prayer. This includes silent prayer. We don't force this. We just devote time to prayerfully becoming present to God as a group, and we let anyone say whatever they want to say to God. During this time, the two year old who spends most of the time playing silently(ish) during the study time sits next to his mom, silently closing his eyes and holding his mom's hand during prayer. It's reverent. It's beautiful.
Recently some in our group have been going through some heavy things, and we've all just been there for them, praying with them not just on Tuesday nights, but throughout the week. This is part of the fellowship where we "carry each other's burdens." A few days later we all got this in a group chat:
Monthly Meetup: Saturday, October 2, 2021 at 5pm
We'll gather for encouragement around this simple agreement to follow Jesus as Lord (our one path), to enjoy fellowship over a meal and scripture and prayer (our four devotions), and to pursue our mission of loving God with all we are and our neighbors with all we have (our two loves).
And then, Lord willing, we'll pull together some microchurches! (If you want to be included in this first wave of Sarasota microchurches and haven't let me know yet, please do that right away by filling out this Next Step.)
But you don't have to be ready to join to come to the Monthly Meetup. This is for anyone to come see what we're doing so they can decide whether they want to be part of it. In fact, feel free to invite people to this as an introduction of what we're doing. Just make sure to RSVP so that we know how much food to make!
So do that now and you'll get a confirmation with location details.
Pray with me that we might fill this world with love, joy, and peace by living out this simple agreement in our homes and neighborhoods.