I recently posted this on my personal blog and thought it would be good to share here. ~Rose Starr
Some of you may know that we are a part of a house church network. Desi, my husband is a pastor/house church coach/mentor here in Denver. We have had a very interesting journey these past 4+ years in this lovely city. We came out as inner city missionaries to start a traditional church. After meeting in our home weekly for awhile (doing house church but not calling it that!) we ended up being given a large donation from an anonymous donor and began renting a small chapel. Although we had a sizable core group, we didn’t grow. We moved to another location and again did not grow. I struggled with not enjoying Sundays at all. It was so much work to haul tub after tub of stuff only to go through these church motions and then have to clean up again. We moved to another location and started meeting on Sunday nights. Again, no growth…people left instead! It was discouraging. We felt like we were wasting God’s resources and after much prayer and about 6 months at that location we went back to Sunday mornings at a house.
We decided to pray and seek God and His will for our group which had grown and shrunk and grown again with people leaving and God bringing us together with another small group. Turns out we had the same vision and heart for the city as this other group who joined up with us before we moved to Sunday nights renting space at a local church. Desi and Bruce (his ministry partner) along with Carrie (another inner city missionary) began to meet/pray regularly and in earnest. I’m not sure how, but we heard of a large house church conference that would be in Denver that summer that was put on by House 2 House. We felt led to go and wouldn’t you know it, that was our start into house church gatherings. We had a lot of ‘traditional mindset’ to re-think as we searched the Scriptures to see what ‘church’ was really about. We discovered some simple and profound things: That were two or more are gathered in His name, He’s there and really that is church…the believers…we are His bride…the church is people and when we are together, we are doing church! Now this may be too liberal a definition for some folks, and that’s ok, but we love it!
Our group met on Sunday mornings at one house for about a year, getting used to being a part of something so different than most of us had been a part of. We began to minister to one another in beautiful ways. We used resources to give to the needy in our own group as well as in the city. We grew in friendship, love and life. We saw some leave and many more come. We joined up with large traditional churches for outreaches and VBS’ in the summer. We prayed that God would send laborers for the harvest and He did! Story after story of how He grew us and brought new people. I love it! Near the end of last year, we realized our core group was getting too large for the house we met in. We all began to pray and ask God to lead us, to move in our hearts and give us a desire to multiply in order to grow and continue to make disciples.
Since then, we have grown into a network of five house churches. One meets Sunday morning, two on Sunday nights (alternating between two houses), one Tuesday night and one Thursday night. Each church looks and feels a bit different, but each is active, alive, nurturing and growing. Desi and I are hosting every 2nd & 4th Sunday evening partnering with another couple who live about a mile from us who host the 1st and 3rd Sundays at their house. It’s nice to start off just every other week and share the hosting and cooking. At our Sunday evening gatherings we share a meal at 5:30 and have our gathering after the meal. Our first gathering was last Sunday. I felt led to have us do an activity I found in a book about Lent for kids. It was a family tree where we all drew/cut out a symbol with our name to represent our branch. We then wrote on leaves qualities that we saw in others that were a blessing and glued the leaves to their branches. It was a wonderful way to start off our gathering and include our 4 kids. We then moved into a time of sharing while we sipped tea and after a little while the kids retired to the basement for a movie. We adults continued to share and fellowship till almost 11pm!
Our gatherings will be a bit ‘loose’ as we seek to listen to the Spirit’s leading. Our desire is to encourage spiritual gifts and give place and time for those gifts to be shared. We want to come together with something learned from the week that we can offer to each other. We desire transparency, honesty, respect, to honor one another and to grow in relationship with our father God. We will invite neighbors, friends and whomever God leads us to with no expectations other than to see what God has for us.
Our network will plan regular large gatherings, outings, trips, parties, outreaches, celebrations, ect…in order to stay connected with one another. Desi and I will host a game night once a month with the invite open to all the house churches and our neighbors. We are praying about various VBS’ put on the the various house church homes/neighborhoods for this summer to reach kids and neighbors with God’s love.
I wanted to share what we were doing and how blessed I am to be a part of something that has helped me grow in my spiritual walk more than ever before. I have been challenged to be an active participant in every meeting. To be open to different views, different people, different ways of interacting with God. We still have much to learn, will probably make mistakes, will start something- realize it doesn’t work- and change our plans, and that’s ok! I have so much to learn as a daughter, wife, mother, friend and neighbor. I am learning to be ok with the process, to enjoy the journey, to see events in my life as a small piece of a much larger picture, to see God’s hand of grace in every aspect of my daily life. It’s mind boggling really.