Recently, I’ve gotten to know another simple church in the Portland area. Formerly a more traditional fellowship, Emmaus has decided to downsize to a house church in a local apartment complex with plans to multiply into a network similar to The Summit Fellowships.
The day I visited, there were a number of the regulars who were either called into work or were sick. 20+ people would have been there if all had been able to show up at the same time, including as many as 17 kids! Not surprisingly, Emmaus has become skilled in involving the young ones. Below are some pictures of the activities the fellowship had prepared for the children, including a short video from the Bible Project (see the “Learning as a Group” link at right. Also, there was a demonstration worthy of a science class, working together on an ongoing prayer journal, and finally a celebration with bubbles.
Michelle, Bethany and Faith offered to make their projects and lesson plans available to other simple churches that are looking for some creative things to do with the kids.
The Roseway Summit Fellowship is planning on taking the month of October to discuss a book called An Army of Ordinary People by Felicity Dale. Felicity and her husband, Tony, were part of the house church movement in the UK decades ago. Eventually, they migrated to the US and started a network of house fellowships similar to Summit. I have several copies of the book in paperback in case anyone from the network would like to read it. It is also available as an eBook at Amazon. Here is a quote from that book.
An attractional model of church is like ice—not in the sense of God’s “frozen chosen,” but because it exists at a certain time in a certain place. However, if you encourage people to get out of the building (whether it is a building with a steeple or a building with a chimney) and reach out to those around them, you are melting the ice. The resulting water—the Good News of the Kingdom—will seep into every crack and crevice of society. This is liquid church.
We call ourselves, “Refuge.” We meet in Milwaukie, just south of Portland. As a fellowship we became concerned about the homelessness problem in the metro area. It was evident to us that for the love of Jesus to be real we can’t just keep it to ourselves. It needs to be shown even to the outcasts of our society.
We knew about a ministry in the Gresham area called My Father’s House. It is a shelter in west Gresham for 28 homeless families that provides a safe place to live while they get back on their feet. Most families enter the program with nothing but a few clothes. While at MFH, they are provided with a private, furnished living space where they spend three to four months getting ready to live on their own. During this time they get training in job skills, parenting, budgeting and life skills, and are also given relational counseling and encouraged in their spiritual journey. Our part in this is small, yet important. Refuge has adopted one room for a year, meaning that, during the year, we provide three or four families with linens, cookware, dishes, and a few other household items that they can use during their time at My Father’s House and then take with them when they finish the program and move out on their own.
The first family in our room was a mother with three children. They
had been forced out of their home due to an abusive relationship. According to Cathe Wiese, the Executive Director of MFH, this mom was very motivated to provide a stable situation for her kids. She was eager to take part in the classes and willingly accepted the mentoring that was provided. In addition to outfitting the room, we were able to pray for the family while they were at MFH, that they would heal emotionally and experience Jesus’ unconditional love.
In addition to adopting a room, several in our church are participating in a community work day at MFH, doing cleaning, sorting donated items, landscaping and painting. Not only will this spruce things up a bit for spring, it gives us an opportunity to work
alongside residents and show them Jesus’ love in a visible, tangible way. Matthew 25 tells us that by serving the least, we are actually serving God. Can we do anything greater for His kingdom?