Why I don’t go to church on Sundays anymore

Sunday morning 11:00am. The sun shines on our well-filled terrace. Four children jump on the trampoline. The garden table is full of cups of coffee, tea, lemonade and Dutch stroopwafels. Bees buzz among the flowers and the birds sing happily. Around the table we discuss the week that is behind us. And just when I want to remind the children that a maximum of three are allowed on the trampoline at the same time, I am overcome with a feeling of gratitude. This is my church!

One of the topics that comes up at the table is the Pentecost weekend. After immersing ourselves in the fantastic atmosphere of Opwekking on Saturday, we received our neighbors on Pentecost at the primary school near our house. A colorful collection of Christians, seekers, fringe churchgoers, people who lost faith, but ‘now want to do something with it again, just don’t know how’. Not familiar company, with only familiar faces. A group where it is better to avoid Christian jargon. Always with the challenge that everyone knows they are seen and feels welcome.

Using statements, we discussed what we already know about the Holy Spirit and who He is according to the Bible. It was really cool to explore and learn from each other in such an interactive way. From the middle of the gymnasium, everyone was challenged to think, take a stand by stepping to the left or right and then explain your choice to the other side of the room. So it really became a collaborative process.

The great thing about leading such a moment is that, even if you don’t set out to do so, you may get the most out of it yourself. This time I was very touched by 2 Corinthians 13:13 ‘ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’. A blessing that is said in many churches over the congregation at the end of a service. Through the preparation I discovered that the word “fellowship” is a translation of the Greek wordkoinonia . That Greek word can be translated as intimacy, close connection, knowing through relationship. God invites us to enter into such a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Wow!

But that word koinonia appears in more places in the Bible. And the more I read about it, the more excited I became. Because this word is, in every respect, counter-cultural. It is also about the way in which the first Christian communities lived together. In close connection with each other. It’s about taking care of each other, both financially and materially. About eating joyfully together. No individualism. Sharing life in every way. And that appealed to me! New believers were added to the church daily. This is how the church is meant to be!

The diaconal presence of a group of Christians in our neighborhood has unplanned spawned several discipleship and home groups. In addition to the activities we organize for and with the neighborhood, we look for what the Bible wants to teach us for today and we pray for / with each other. We eat together, share life and care for each other. When we compared Acts 2 a few years ago, we had no choice but to draw the conclusion: this is church, this is community.
A few years later, sitting in the sun, with all those beautiful people around me, I realize; this is koinonia . Because how I love these people and how incredibly beautiful the bond you build with each other is. A place where discipleship is not a special program, but where, by working together, it is a self-evident process.

Growing in kononia
Is everything all roses and moonshine now? Certainly not. We sometimes struggle with giving meaning to our conversations. Because if you give children priority within your group, there is not always the depth that you may sometimes need. That is why we have chosen to follow the Growth Year as a community next season. So that we can delve deeper (in our own time) and discuss what we have learned during moments when we come together. Over the past two seasons I have been able to watch from the sidelines with more than 1000 students, now we will experience for ourselves how we will grow this year in koinonia with God and with each other.

Are you also interested in following the Growth Year individually (you will receive a learning team through us), as a group or as an entire church? Please contact us atgrowth-year@royalmission.nl .

About Dieteke Visser

Moeder van drie schatten, onderwijs manager bij Royal Mission en daarnaast samen met haar man René actief voor de bloei van de wijken van Nederland met stichting R3NEW.

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