The church does not have a pastor or a permanent leadership team, but instead uses lay leadership, and members of the church volunteer to lead worship and “meditation”, to teach Sunday School, lead children’s circle, and to share of their life experiences and growths. House church has no declared denomination that they are affiliated with. Instead, they welcome different perspectives from different communities. The group of people that meet at House Church range from toddlers to adults in their early fifties and sixties, with the majority of the people attending being in their early thirties and forties, either single or married with children. The racial context of the group is mostly white people. Many of the attending members in the church come from Mennonite affiliated backgrounds, and are pacifists. This is shown in the musical setting, singing in four-part harmony. The church has no building of its own. This is intentional, and is, according to Doug Hertzler, one of the people that I interviewed, “a reminder that being a Christian is about service, not just worship, or the symbolism of a church building.” It is also productive, and is a way for their tithes to be put to better use. House Church is informal, and they improvise when needed—once, during one of the services I attended, they planned to have a fellowship meal the next week because there was a need for the youth to have a meal before they went ice-skating. The services are moments of silence, separated by words of reflection, prayers and praises, and bursts of song.
In House Church, each member’s reflections and experiences in the world are contained, as desired, in parts of the services throughout the year. The themes of the month for the services focus on things in people’s lives that they have experienced that have made them grow in their faith. The meditations are based on what they have experienced in the larger community. These things are viewed in connection with what they have lived through in the past, and learned through their faith. Members can apply what the mediation says to their own life.
Within the geographical community, Cheryl Martin, the woman I interviewed, felt like there wasn’t a community aspect within the church that was a part of their weekly lives. When the church began, service to the community was a part of their occupation, and daily lives. Many within the church have connections to outreach that they do or have done in the past, through mission or social justice work within the community.
When I attended House Church the three times, each time, the ritual was very similar. The service was begun in the same aspect and similar idea, as they were within the same monthly theme. The order of the service was the same, and only the content differed. The context depends very much on the theme of the months. Services in the same month may have the same theme, but different thoughts each service—different reflections at meditation, different perspectives at Children’s Circle, and different discussions in Sunday school hour. This is necessary for variety in looking at how God is working within each person, and being able to reflect within oneself about how they can relate to what is being said.
One important aspect of the service is the singing time. People can reflect on the words of a song that is sung during a service, and when a man shared a song that he had written, and members could reflect upon the words. Prayer is an important aspect, because it gives one member a chance to offer their prayer requests to God, be accountable to the group about what is going on in their lives, and it lets the other members pray for…