Before we stopped going to church, I couldn’t imagine how we would find regular Christian fellowship outside the structure of traditional Sunday morning meetings when fellowship was rare in those meetings in the first place! But God is faithful beyond our imaginings, and our reality is that now we have more good and godly fellowship than we did as committed members of a traditional church.

So what does unchurching really look like? Here’s how it works for us.

We meet with home church fellowships.

Unchurching, June 2010
Sometimes we find ourselves meeting with other believers in their homes.

If there’s a group of Christians getting together in a setting where everyone is encouraged to share, we’d like to be there. David and I are very certain that we did not leave the institutionalised church to exchange it for another institutionalised church — even if it does meet in homes. So we’re not committing to become a house church and we’re not committing to regularly attending a house church — we can see how the routine could easily suck the life out of the fellowship.

But the structure of home churches means that regular participants know how to share openly, how to listen well, how to pray freely and how to sing praise songs with minimal instruments (if any). We’ve met some wonderful Christians through the burgeoning home church movement in Brisbane, and we look forward to sharing special fellowship with them in the future.

We practice deliberate hospitality.

Unchurching, June 2010
Oftentimes, a discussion after dinner becomes an in-depth Bible study.

There’s something about sitting around food that leads to true fellowship. The meal doesn’t have to be fancy — even sandwiches will do — but having something to do — even eating — means people are more likely to share from the heart.

We invite people over for meals very regularly — there’s usually someone extra at our table several times a week. Some of them are formal invitations (“Will Tuesday next week suit you?”) and other shared meals happen because someone is around when it’s about the time to eat (“I’m going to start making lunch — will you stay and eat with us?”).

In seeking true fellowship with other Christian believers, the truth is that if Christ is alive in you, then you will talk about what Father is teaching you and how you are growing in spiritual matters. So hospitality is just a means of bringing others to a comfortable house, looking after their physical needs first and then connecting with their spiritual life.

We include other believers in our family outings.

David, Noel and Wal, chatting in the park.
Inviting other believers to accompany us on a sparkling adventure is conducive to building a real relationship that leads to sharing from the heart.

If I know that we’ve got an outing planned, it’s pretty easy to call up a friend or two and let them know what we’ve got going on. These sort of invitation show that you’re thinking about your friends and want to spend time with them. True friendships take time to grow, and sharing experiences accelerates the growth.

When you’re out and about, you don’t necessarily need to start delving into deep theological discussions, but you can use the opportunity to share openly about yourself and freely enjoy your companions’ presence.

We expect great things from our great God.

At the Schneiders' house, Toogoolawah, July 2010
The best times of fellowship are ones that are unplanned — when you find yourself unexpectedly in the company of other Christians and can share together about God's work in your life!

There have been times when we have set out, not knowing what would happen in our day, but we have known that we were walking with Father and He would bless us in unexpected ways. This includes meeting believers in unlikely places — to the extent of being invited to stay at someone’s house for the night!

Very soon after we were asked to leave our church, I had a couple of weeks where I would unexpectedly meet believers every single time I left the house to do routine grocery shopping. I started to warn David that each absence may be longer than I anticipated because I knew Father would bring a person across my path that would lead to a conversation that would delay my errands.

This unchurching business seemed so risky when it was talked about, but in living it, I can see how we are truly walking in freedom — trusting Father to provide the fellowship that we need for life and godliness!