It has been a while… If you didn’t know, we have been recording a podcast. You can find it under our menu (top left) by clicking “listen.” We also thought we would try a little something new to go along with our podcast. We wanted to give our guests more of an opportunity to share their story since on hour long podcast wasn’t enough time to tell their story! We also didn’t mention this in the podcast, but we wanted to mention something else the Nazarene denomination is doing. The denomination is the reason that me and Aimee had the opportunity to meet, in a cohort called Mentoring for Ministry. Both Brent and Hunter, who were guests on previous podcasts, were also part of the cohort. So without further ado:
A guest blogpost by Aimee McCroskey
Pastor, Bartow Home Church of the Nazarene
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus… Greet also the church that meets at their house.” (Romans 16:3;5)
I Wrote a Blog! (guest post)
So, my millennial pastor friend asked me to guest write on his blog- now I can’t even! The significance of this is not lost on me. I was born in June 1979, which means I miss the “technical” cutoff date for being considered a millennial by only six months. This often puts me in limbo because I do not fully identify as a millennial. But as a “youngish” pastor who entered into ministry “later” in life, I often face the same struggles.
I’m the pastor of a house church. Not by choice. Not because it was the cool and trendy way to do church. Not because I hate traditional church (because I actually love traditional church and more than often long to return to the familiar). It all happened completely by accident, really.
If someone were to ask me if I ever thought I would be the pastor of a house church, I would probably have to stop them and say, “Actually, I never even thought I would be a pastor.” So why is that?
I’ve often thought about it and wondered; Did I miss something earlier on in life? Maybe I wasn’t spiritual enough? Maybe I wasn’t listening hard enough? Perhaps I was focused on other things? Maybe I didn’t have the right mentors or spiritual leaders to ask for advice? I’ve even considered that perhaps subconsciously I thought pastoring was only something my husband could do. All the “what if’s” bombard me from time to time, causing my head to spin.
But the truth is, when God calls, He often does it in ways which do not make sense to us. For someone who likes to plan and know what lies ahead, this continues to be a huge deal for me. Particularly, for someone who likes order and following the rules, it was even harder to find out there are no set rules or particular order for house churches (at least not in my particular denomination).
So, why a house church in a culture that already has plenty of brick and mortar churches? Honestly, that’s a very long story. A story that I would love to share with anyone who wants to know. But for the purpose of this blog post, let me just say, it became the necessary entry point into ministry if we were to be obedient to the call of God.
When we first answered the call to step away from the traditional brick and mortar church to a house church model, it was scary. I had so many questions. What about singing? What about taking an offering? What does a home church DO with money anyway?! Where will people sit? How do you get district support? What kind of reports do I have to fill out? What happens when the denomination doesn’t treat home churches like they matter? Can we lead this church? Or do we need a “real” pastor? What kind of food should we serve?
My biggest question of all though, was about my kids. Would they get “enough” Jesus? My fears were SO real. Not only did Jesus take all of these fears from me, He shattered them so much so that I often forget I ever even had them. That is, until others remind me of them.
You see, I had someone very close to me recently imply that my kids were not really getting enough church because they do not get to attend a traditional Sunday School class. Before you pick a side, let me just say that I LOVE Sunday School. I grew up going my entire childhood and adult life. My husband and I led an adult Sunday School class in two different churches we attended. But I do not think attending Sunday School makes or breaks a church, and it certainly does not stand in the way of a child (or adult) coming to know Jesus in a personal way. In fact, many of the aspects that Sunday School provides- small group setting, personal discussions and a close-knit community are found within the home church model.
The months between obeying God’s call and leaving our church family and the familiar routines of Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights behind felt like an eternity. Ultimately, our obedience led us to a place of exile and loneliness. There were plenty of hours to daily lament and worry that we misunderstood the call.
It was an unusually quiet day in our house. Three of my four children had found something to do in the back of the house. My son Coleson was playing a game on the computer while I worked in the front living room. From the kitchen radio we could hear a message saying something to the effect of being with Jesus when we die.
“I want to be with Jesus when I die.”, my six-year-old little boy said out of nowhere. Heart pounding, I slowly explained to him in kid terms how that was possible and then told him that he could think about it and let me know when he was ready. Without a single hesitation, he said, “I’m ready now!” Right there, in my home, and what would eventually become my church, Coleson became a new creation in Jesus Christ! Our first convert! I knew without a doubt that our church would not only help bring people to Jesus, but it would change lives. Even the lives of my own family members.
The Struggle Is Real
The reality is that we still deal with painful remarks and chatter that we are not a “real” church. It is in times like these that my “imposter syndrome” kicks in. Home church is hard. It can be messy. It is both physically and mentally exhausting. It can be extremely lonely. I often feel invisible. Much of my energy is spent reminding people that I am a real pastor. But it is through Christ that I can, and will, overcome any and all doubt that He has called and I will continue to answer that call.