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New Churches

Starting Up? Starting over?

"Where two or three are gathered..."

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Life Together House Church inside!

Our Story

Our former congregation had a congregational meeting in November 2009 to discuss mission issues. As a result of comments and discussion at this meeting it was obvious to our family that a large part of this congregation no longer held the same orthodox Lutheran beliefs that we did. Near the end of the meeting our family and another announced that we were not satisfied with the direction the congregation had voted to go and we were leaving the congregation. We did not go into the meeting with this intention, but felt that this action was necessary on our part to preserve our faith relationship with Christ. As we left that meeting we thought others may be leaving, but we were not sure.

Following our departure we contacted the other family that announced they were leaving and we talked to each other about our decision and what we might do now. Then the word started getting out about others who had decided to leave the congregation. Some of these names were total surprises to us. We eventually decided that we needed to get some of these people together to discuss our decision and to provide mutual support for each other. We called only those people that we were sure had left the congregation and other names that were passed onto us and we held a meeting at our house.

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“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:20

This meeting was a time of mourning for our loss. It was a time to question where we were and what God was calling us to do. It was a very painful period for some and it was a time of moving forward for others. Now we no longer had to struggle to convince 2/3s of the congregation to vote to leave the ELCA. My guess at the time was that if a vote was held we would have about 55-60% yes, but not the needed 2/3s. Now we were beyond that point and it was no longer an issue. Those gathered at our meeting were all in agreement that the 2009 CWA decisions were wrong and we probably would have left the congregation if a vote to leave was not taken or if the vote to leave was defeated. Four of us served on the church council appointed committee to review other Lutheran denominations that the congregation might join if we left the ELCA.

There were about 15-18 of us at our original gathering. Many of these people were the leaders of our congregation and had served on church council and many of the committees of the congregation. We did not feel that we were a large enough group to start a new church, but we wanted to stay together as a group. We decided to continue meeting Sunday evenings at our house as this would provide an opportunity for us to visit other area congregations Sunday mornings.

We began meeting Sunday evenings at our house in November 2009 and met weekly. Our gatherings generally began with a discussion of the various churches we attended that morning and discussion of the service and sermon, then a topical study, a time of prayer and then a time of fellowship and snacks. We took an offering each week and sent it to local and non-local ministries. We also planned and participated in several service projects. We attended a Holy Week/Easter play at a nearby Lutheran Church as a group outing. It was a time of healing and growth for each of us, but we called ourselves the Lutheran nomads. We came to the conclusion that we needed to either join other congregations or do something else. We wanted to move on, but none of us had found a local congregation that we felt comfortable joining or if we were comfortable with the congregation it was further away than we felt we could actively participate in the life of the congregation. There was also the ELCA issue and many of the local congregations were ELCA. Some of us attended a local Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation, but were not comfortable with some of their positions.

We decided we needed some pastoral help. We wrote to a pastor of an area congregation and explained our situation and he responded with options that we might consider, but he did not say he would come over or send a staff member to help us directly. We understood this situation because they are very busy ministering in their congregation. We then contacted a pastor from our general area that was listed on the WordAlone Chaplin Corps. This pastor and his wife came to one of our Sunday evening gatherings and listened to our story and promised to see what they might do to help us. The pastor contacted WordAlone and they passed our information onto a group called Life Together Churches.

After some correspondence and phone calls between our group and two people from the LTC staff, we decided to have them come to our house to provide a study about “cell churches”. Most of us had no concept what a cell group was. We had been calling ourselves a house church for lack of a better name, but now they would come and give us specific information about the New Testament church and how worship was held in the beginnings of the church as described in Acts.

Two LTC people came to our house and led worship, study, and fellowship on a Friday evening and then again on Saturday for a total of about 9 hours including fellowship time. They explained that they were just beginning this outreach for people like us that were leaving the ELCA, but also they are convinced that this is a different way of doing church that can reach others with the gospel message that would not normally step foot in a traditional church building. They have both started cell groups themselves. We discussed the fact that we were a little different than the usual cell group because we were larger than the ideal sized cell group and we were all active Christians. Most cell groups have many members who are not already believers. We would be their guinea pigs or the first cell group to use their program.

Our group met the following week and discussed what we had heard and tried to discern if this was where God was calling our group. We had several concerns which mostly centered on the fact that we would be a church without a local pastor. Our Bible study had told us that the early church did not have pastors and that the Lutheran understanding of worship does not require a pastor. We also were concerned about our ability to lead worship and stay Biblically focused and not stray without pastoral leadership. Our weekend session gave us a basic understanding of the cell groups and the LTC program has a 15 week program already set for our use. Our leader will also have weekly conversations with the LTC staff. We decided to step out in faith and give it a try.

We decided to hold worship at our house on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. We held our first service on September 12, 2010. One of the families in our group decided not to continue with the cell group concept and left our group. We are committed to working our way through the 15 week program and then we will evaluate our situation at that time.