If you’ve ever been to Bethany for the start of a weekend service you’ve no doubt heard us say something like “we believe it’s impossible to follow Jesus well and remain strangers.” And this isn’t just something we think sounds good but a reality we feel Jesus has taught and modelled for us. It doesn’t mean we end up knowing everyone, but rather, that we’re known well by a few in community. In fact, following Jesus has always been something best experienced in community, together with others.
If we think of the kinds of imagery that Jesus and His early followers used to describe the relational connections we would have because of Him, we often find expressions of unity and the sense of being bound to one another.
Jesus used imagery such as:
- A branch connected to a vine from which it gains life
- A healthy body, able to do great good when working together
- A family, full of diversity but committed to each other in love
The idea of being a follower of Jesus has always been linked with the idea of partnership and togetherness, both between us and God as well as us with others. It’s way more than just saying “hello” at the start of a service, this is about actually loving each other the way Jesus has loved us!
So, when we talk about Home Church at Bethany, we’re talking about the best way we can think of to do everything a learner and follower of Jesus is called to grow in. Here’s what I mean by that.
A disciple is invited and challenged to grow in their relationship with God (UP), their unity with other believers (WITH) and their care for the needs around them (OUT). Now, you and I can learn a lot about what this might look like from sermons, Bible studies, podcasts, books and more. But it’s when we start to practice these things with other believers that we actually start to move from just gaining information to actually being transformed by Jesus. Not only that, but as you’ve no doubt noticed in life, having others who encourage you, show you grace and challenge you in love, as you practice what following Jesus looks like in your life, makes a tremendous difference as to whether you succeed or not.
This is because we need each other!
We need the support, encouragement, challenge, insight and love that others have to give us just as much as they need it from us. Because, the truth is, a branch can be broken off the vine and need to be grafted back in, a body can be wounded and need healing and a family can have conflict and need to pursue reconciliation. And this is why Home Church is such a big deal for us at Bethany.
It’s where we learn from each other and practice together what Jesus has taught. It’s where we realize that being in community is messy and that we need grace for each other. It’s where we learn to hear God’s voice so we can better recognize and share Him in our day-to-day life, inviting others to join this community and learn to follow Jesus.
So why Home Church? Because being a disciple of Jesus, a learner and a follower of Him has always been best experienced in connection with other disciples so that we can better know Jesus and show love for others.
It just so happens that Bethany’s Spring Home Church season is starting on April 28 and I’d invite you to consider leading, hosting or joining one. And we have a growing number of people in Thorold, Grimsby, Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake and toward Fort Erie that are looking for a Home Church, so there is a growing opportunity to create a Home Church connection in those areas.
You can find more information about Home Churches online and you can also search online for a home church near you or download the Church Centre App to search. Of course, you can always come to the Next Steps area and speak with one of our Group Life staff members after the weekend service or email us at email@example.com.