Growing in a community

House church

This past Wednesday evening we started a house church in our home. This is the first time we’ve hosted a house church here in Nairobi that’s intended to be a church from the beginning. I’m really excited, because I’ve been missing this aspect of spiritual community since we moved from Cape Town. We have a team here that meets on Tuesday mornings to pray and worship together, and we occasionally have a kids-oriented worship time on Sunday mornings. But to me, nothing beats a small group meeting in someone’s home and sharing a meal together as we learn more about Jesus and follow him together. I firmly believe that there are many forms of church that can be healthy and strong, but this one is just my personal favorite.

My first house church experience was in Norman, Oklahoma, during university. The Lord had recently grabbed my heart in a new way and convicted me about the need to have a relationship with God based on love and not just rules and self-importance. So I got involved in a house church in what later became Norman Community Church. I found it challenging at first. I couldn’t just show up and stay anonymous. People were sharing real struggles with each other, and that made me uncomfortable. I had to choose to open up and be vulnerable with others in ways I’d been too afraid to in the past. Through that, I began to understand God’s grace for me better, and in turn be able to extend that grace to others more too.

I haven’t actually regularly attended a Sunday morning church service in about 12 years. In Cape Town, we had other expressions of church too, but the heart was in our house church that met on Wednesday evenings. I learned to love this multicultural community and sharing life with them was one of my greatest joys there (the picture at the top of this point is from our last house church meeting in Cape Town in March). I learned about the importance of obeying Jesus, not ever leaving without saying how I would respond to the thing that I learned and then being held accountable to do it. It makes a radical difference in following Jesus when you start actually obeying him, and not just adding new head knowledge.

We’ve been waiting until the right time to start something here in Nairobi. We finally feel like we’ve made enough inroads here in the culture and settling in. (And, hey, we also didn’t have very much seating in our lounge until our container arrived last week!) So it felt like the time was right, and we started with just four other people last week. I’m excited to see where this goes. My dream is that it would be a safe place for people to experience Jesus and be part of the family of God.

What do you like most about church? Is there a certain expression of church that is most life-giving to you?