In the fall of 2016, Common Ground took the radical step towards becoming a church that not only gathers at the Silk Mill every Sunday, but also scatters to house churches all over the region. These eight house churches are led by Common Ground pastors, and they meet once a month. On the other three weeks of the month, they gather back in the Silk Mill and two other house churches go out. So, on any given Sunday at Common Ground there are three worship gatherings, two in a House Church, and one at the Silk Mill.
Imagine with us a space where marriages are restored, neighbors are loved, children are taught the ancient songs and mysteries and where the same children teach us about faith and joy. Imagine a space where college students are given a chance to lead in worship and not just consume but actually share their gifts; a place where the older saints among us are cared for as parents, because their own children have neglected them. Here they are all a vital part of our family. Here we are all together under one roof eating and drinking, singing and praying, playing, and resting to the glory of God.
House Churches are marked by worship – these gatherings are liturgical in nature with songs, prayers, psalms, and the Eucharist. We value liturgy, joy and lament, Christian rhythms, and prayer. All three of our gatherings, each Sunday, follow the same passages of scripture but will be lead in worship by the people (wives, husbands, singles, children, and college students) in that home. Our hope, as with all Christian worship, is that when we come to the Eucharist we, like the bread, will be shattered by the love of God that will move us toward one another and toward a hurting city.
House Churches are marked by mission – this means that all are welcome to the table. A liturgical gathering intrinsically puts on display the radical hospitality of a God, who found us in the gutter and we remember what it was like to be so far from God. Because Christ loved the stranger, everyone is welcome. We value sharing what we have found in Christ, so we eat and drink together with a mixed economy of people, postured toward active listening, with a willingness to open, life giving, conversations and to explore the cost of discipleship with those not following Jesus. In this way the church that once only met in the Silk Mill is scattered to neighborhoods to live out an incarnational hope to help change people’s perspective about God and the people of God. We do this by eating together in love, no matter who comes to the table.
House Churches are marked by community – this means that in a culture of hurry, once we’ve been shattered by the gospel and scattered on mission, we want to rest together and be gathered into God and into one another. True unity in Christ around his table. As a direct assault on the temptation to rush through life, we want to take the time to simply be present with one another, to offer ourselves as the gift, and receive the other as a gift to us. We understand that this kind of community is forged through sacrifice. Sometimes, as Jesus would say, “leave your gift at the altar and go be reconciled to your brother.” House Church gives us a proximity toward one another to work out Jesus’ command of forgiveness and loving our neighbors. This leads us to simplicity so that these spaces can be a place of radical generosity to share with one another and to meet each others needs. This kind of open handed hospitality ultimately will lead to Sabbath Rest for the people of God, with all those whom he has called to his table through us.
Over the past few years, the Holy Spirit has been growing our community and we needed to make a few decisions regarding space and discipleship. Do we automatically go to two services so that we can grow and accommodate all who want to come? Or do we ask the harder and deeper questions of discipleship and equip the saints for the work of the Gospel? As we looked into the face of “church growth” we discerned that the Holy Spirit was leading us into a more ancient form of growth. The kind of rooted growth that is under the ground, being the church in the world ready for the mess that comes when the persons of the trinity and the persons of the community are in the same room.