In Banaswadi, Bangalore the church meets on Wednesdays at 8 PM in the night. The setting is different. I have grown up sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings dressed in formal attire staring at other pretentiously stern and solemn faces that are waiting to scowl at you if you misbehave, which amounts to smiling, talking, looking all around restlessly or making faces at another kid sitting across the aisle. Name a motion and there was a high probability it was taboo in that setting.
But at Banaswadi, we gather in the living room of a house. No one is dressed formally unless they are arriving straight from work. We start with dessert and coffee or tea as people arrive. Worship is participative and so is the study. Each participant brings with him or her a hymn a psalm a word of instruction a petition or an experience to encourage others.
I picture Priscilla and Aquila and the church that met in their home. I would like to believe it would have been similar.
I have been asked questions when I share with people about the church at Banaswadi.
Who is the pastor?
Who distributes communion?
How many members?
What is the source of income for the pastor?
What order of service do you follow?
Is your pastor ordained?
Are you associated with any denomination?
These questions are debatable.
Maybe the reason the home church is the only form of church in the new testament was because there were persecutions. Maybe the home church is the fastest growing church model in China because most churches are underground. Maybe the flexibility and the non institutional structure of the home church does not appeal to those who prefer heirarchy, authority and power. Maybe our pastor does not wear the right kind of cassock. Maybe there are no pews no altar no choir benches no parsonage no vestry.
Jesus during his ministry to the Jews consistently lashed out at one aspect of their lives. Their religiosity and ceremonial clinging devoid of any true worship. Which day of the week, what sacrifice to offer, what food to eat, what rituals to perform what dress to wear, which place of worship to go to and such others were the primary questions that plagued their theology. These issues continue to plague many of our ‘mainline’ churches even today.
These are ‘non issues’, to steal a word from the IT industry, at Banaswadi. The focus is praise, worship, study, encouragement and fellowship. We are learning from the book of Genesis these days. The insights that each of us brings is varied and sometimes wonderful as we add the richness of our lives’ experiences to the understanding of His word.
Every Wednesday night I walk out of that home with a blessed feeling. It is not just an emotional experience. The two hours we spend together as a church, invades our thoughts, our perspective of God and who He is and our relation to Him and leaves us with a challenge to be true to His calling. It doesn’t stop there. The fellowship with believers holds us accountable in His presence.
We hope you will join us someday.
Andronicus, from Banaswadi Bangalore 🙂