Participating With My Wife In Simple Church

Walking through the emptiness of the house I miss her, especially on this day – Sunday. Beth is getting to spend two awesome weeks with out daughter, Kerre, who is seven months with child. The past four days the house has been pretty empty, but it is today that I seem to miss her the most.

Why? Because in a few hours I get to gather with other members of our church and share a little life together and she will not be with us.

For the first 30 years of our our marriage we would “go to church” and not talk with one another for about three hours. When we arrived I would head off to some duty near the church office and Beth would make her way to teach a children’s Sunday school class. Later you could find me getting ready to  go into the worship center and she would be warming up her voice to sing in the choir. When the service ended I was meeting and greeting everyone while she was gathering her teaching materials. Finally we got to sit together in the car on the way home to try to talk a little about what we experienced. Something similar happened on Sunday evening on again on Wednesday night.

One of the joys of simple church is the way in which we are able to participate together with our friends. Here are some of the things that mean the most to me.

  • Together, we are in the same room
  • Together, we drink a little coffee
  • Together, we participate in mutual edification with the body of Christ
  • Together, we hear the Holy Spirit speak to us and through our friends
  • Together, we see and hear what God is doing in the lives of the children
  • Together, we share the overflow in our every day lives

I love participating in our simple church with my wife and with fellow believers.When we gather today, I will miss her, but I will enjoy being with my friends.

Grace and Peace,

Terry

Hosting Summer Church Meetings

While the churches in our simple church network meet on a regular basis during the week, we don’t limit our church activity to these set times and days. For us, we don’t “go” to church, we are the church. We practice being the body of Christ in our day to day lives. In these meetings we pretty much follow a 4 W’s format but always with freedom and flexibility and an emphasis on edification.

Our groups also gather for teaching and worship on Sunday and these meetings are marked by participation and sharing. This summer we are encouraging every member to sponsor or host a Sunday gathering of the church.

This hosting or sponsoring may or may not be in their homes. It can be in any location near their house or apartment. It might be in a park, a meeting room in a local restaurant, a parking lot, a back yard, etc. The time of the meeting will depend on the location and choice of activities.

We are doing this for several reasons:

  • To make disciples by encouraging attendance of friends and family members who might feel more comfortable at a location that a member hosts
  • To mature the body of Christ
  • To break the monotony of always meeting at the same location
  • To share responsibility and give those who regularly host meetings a break

How could hosting meetings such as these make disciples and mature members?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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9 Reasons A Good Welcome Makes A Difference

Most of us don’t have any problem knowing how to gather for a time of informal fun and food, but what can we do in a simple church gathering when we need a little structure? We have discovered that one of the best ways is to use a little outline that some call the 4 W’s – Welcome / Worship / Word / Work.

Welcome

4 W'sGood meetings happen when we are linked together and everyone present feels wanted and welcome. Even though we see and speak to one another often during the week we need some time to reconnect. The Welcome time should help us transition from informal chatting and visiting to a more focused time of edification.

Here are 9 reasons why I believe that a directed focus on welcoming one another into a small group, cell group or simple church meeting is important:

  1. We reconnect with the group no matter how well we might know the other members
  2. We get involved from the beginning
  3. We participate in an atmosphere of listening
  4. We feel valued as others listen to us
  5. We learn some fun things about one another
  6. We hear our own voices in a group setting
  7. We develop a sense of belonging
  8. We are reminded that we are the body of Christ
  9. We strengthen our “one another” bond before we direct our attention to God in worship, look into His Word and seek to see where He is working in our world.

What reasons would you add to the list?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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Mission Trip To Asia and Back In One Day

Sandi Leading Orchestra

Our church met at the Dragon Boat, Kite, and Lantern Festival last Sunday. One of our members plays in a string orchestra. The director was in China and she was asked to direct a performance in the opening ceremonies. We decided to go and support her and experience the festival. It was like taking a mission trip to Asia and coming back the same day.

Some helped back stage while others simply watched the performance. Some took pictures and video to share with the director when he returns. We just dispersed in the crowd and mingled with the people attending the festival.

As we walked the festival grounds we would run into other members of the group from time to time and stop to visit. At one point several of us found ourselves sitting in the shade eating lunch from the street vendors.

The church chose to gather – not at some permanent place and at a set time – but at a place where we could do life together. We did this for several reasons:

  • to serve a fellow member of our local church
  • to serve the members of the orchestra
  • to build relationships with the orchestra and their families
  • to learn more about a culture that is all around us in which we can live the example of a Christ-like life style
  • to make some new friends
  • to be incarnational (be the body of Christ in the world)
  • to be missional (to be about the mission of Jesus in the world)

Who knows, we might go to October Fest this fall.

What are some ways and where are some places your church or small group can gather?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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Sharing Life and Love – Mom Got It Right

This is a gust post from Kerre Thorne. Kerre seeks to actively live a life on mission with Jesus. In addition to being a great wife and mother, she is my daughter. I was thrilled when she agreed to write a post in honor of her mother (and my wife) Beth.

Beth and Kerre

In Elementary school my brother and I were blessed with friends who’s mothers treated us like their own. Even when I was at a sleep over I always had a mommy hug before bed, but I think our friends had it even better than us! My mom always became more than “my” mom when my friends were around. Everyone was loved and cared for (and from time to time punished) equally. At a young age I learned to share my mommy with others who needed her just as much as I did. Her hugs were wide spread!

As my brother and I got older the concept stayed the same. Reflecting on my teen years, I don’t always remember mothers of my friends that loved me as much as my own did. There were even sad times when my friends moms didn’t seem to love my friends as much I think a mother should. Luckily God gave those friends to me… not because of their families, but because of mine. Especially because of my Mom.

I never gave too much thought to sharing my mother’s love. It was always a natural occurrence and not one that bothered me, but one that I was overly proud of. Her kitchen or living room floor were always open to any friend that needed food and a place to crash, and her arms were always open to a child that needed her love and support.

Beth, Kerre and David circa 1979

I’m grown now, with a 2 year old and a baby on the way and not much has changed. Except that instead of a lot of extra “hey Mom’s” it’s now more often “Mamoo” (our families version of Grandmother). I’m always more than thrilled to walk into my parents house to gather with the church on Sunday’s and Tuesday’s and watch her arms fill up with hugs from little ones that have come to know her as their own.

Even before our simple church experiences Mom “got it.” The concept was never something that she had to learn. And I’m so blessed that she worked to instill it in me. Community and family and sharing life and love. That’s what my Mom has always done and could probably never not do!

Thank you Mommy for loving my friends as much as you love me!

Kerre

When They Didn’t Come

Cheese PartyLeaning forward in her chair as tears welled up in her eyes she shared the hurt of the previous day. We had prayed with her and shared her hopes, so it was our hurt as well. Except for her church friends, only one other person came.

The birthday party for her preschool son was to be more than just a party. She had hoped that it would bring two relational groups together – her church friends and her friends who don’t follow Christ. She longed to see the two groups mingle. To see new friendships established. To let her fellow Christ followers join her in the harvest.

Her pain was not for her son. He had a great time doing life with his simple church family. The presents were plenteous and the cake delicious. The laughter and fellowship flowed like birthday punch. We had a great time – but they didn’t come.

What did we do?

Sitting with her, we identified with her hurt. She shared her pain and we encouraged her. We committed to keep on working.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9 NIV

We like to share our victories and shy away from our disappointments. But we can learn a lot from those difficult times.

Grace and Peace,
Terry