For months, I’ve wanted to give up attending the traditional Sunday-morning institutional gathering, but David encouraged me to to keep going. I felt that the fellowship on Sunday mornings was stifled by the traditional format and wanted to connect with other believers in a more real way. Although I knew it was technically possible, I couldn’t foresee Christian fellowship actually happening outside the traditional formats that we’re used to.

Now that we’ve stopped attending Sunday morning meetings, I wonder what we were afraid of. ‘I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,’ declares the Sovereign LORD. And God has proven his faithfulness to us as we embark on a new direction for our family — “unchurching”, I like to call it.

The truth is that since we stopped attending church on Sundays, we have never had so much Christian fellowship as part of our lives. We’ve had people over for meals and games, talked to strangers at the shops and in car parks, re-connected with old friends and even received visits from family! We’ve had things happening almost every weekend so that the kids haven’t noticed that we’ve stopped “going to church”.

Today was the first Sunday where we didn’t have anything planned. And I was a bit nervous. It’s been a quiet week as friends have deliberately pulled away over differences, and I thought that I would notice the absence of the Sunday “fellowship”.

Wrong. A dear friend stopped in with her children, providing me with a safe haven for relaxing, catching up and sharing what’s been happening in our lives. And just as she was winding up her visit, the doorbell rang.

M and S decided to try visiting us this morning. We had met M at the home-church-networking-thing down on the Gold Coast a month ago, and she decided to stop by with her husband on the off-chance that we were in.

And we were! At the same time that M and S arrived, David finished his work and could join us in the house for some meaningful conversations. I am certain that I never enjoyed as meaningful a conversation at Sunday-morning-church as I did with these two virtual strangers who happened by our house this morning.

We shared verses from the Bible, testimonies to God’s faithfulness in our lives and evidence of how God has been teaching and changing us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It was a sweet time of fellowship, and it happened outside of church, without any planning on our part!

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”