So we got together with the church last night and there was no smiting going for meeting outside of Sunday. We got an invite from some friends we met on Saturday for lunch and spent the evening at a home right across the street from where we gather on Sunday morning. There were a number of families there, quite a mixed group. I was told that at least five local churches were represented. There was a wide variety of ages. Some of the women covered their heads and some did not. It was a very nice group of folks. We met in a finished area of a pole barn, so we were kind of snug but in a good way. You felt part of the group. Even the guy who spoke, a guest from Kokomo, Indiana sat among us and when he spoke he was more in the midst of us than standing over us. We sang a number of songs, listened to a speaker and offered comments and testimonials throughout. No one was spouting heresy and it was generally pretty orderly. Best of all was the time we spent fellow-shipping afterward. No one rushed for the door as soon as we were dismissed even though it was fairly late. We met a number of other Christians and spoke to a few we had met previously. It was a great opportunity to connect with a hopefully ever wider circle of Christians in our area.
For many Christians. the location and setting of this meeting would have been disconcerting. It was at someone's home, it was in the evening and it wasn't really "churchy". Even though we devoted ourselves to the same things the earliest church did (fellowship, breaking bread, prayers, teaching, i.e. Acts 2:42), it would seem strange, perhaps even uncomfortable. It is a grave concern of mine that so many of us are conditioned to a rigid view of not just how the church can meet but how the church must meet. We miss so many opportunities to be encouraged and edified by trying to box in the church. I have said it before and I will say it again. It is OK to ask questions and challenge established traditions. It is OK to seek ways to fellowship with the church in ways that are not "churchy". Jesus wasn't American and neither were His disciples. They didn't meet in church buildings on Sunday morning wearing their Sunday best and observing the traditions and rituals we associate with church. By trying to make Jesus and His Word conform to the American church, we lose a lot of the wonderful opportunities to live as the church with one another.