But isn't it interesting that there is no such checklist taught in the scriptures? This plan was developed and perfected by men generations ago and, for better or worse, we've been running with it ever since.
If you're reading about how to have church at home, then you're already thinking outside of the traditional box. Allow me to suggest this: Keep going! Be open to leaving traditions and habits behind in favor of the liberty found in the scriptures. Since the Bible doesn't give us a step by step church program, how about we not create one either? In fact, let's focus on “Family” not “Program.”
Jesus didn't give outlines and the apostles didn't teach on how to run a church meeting. Church is all about God's people coming together in the name of the Lord to worship Christ and to edify one another. The number of ways that can happen are countless. There are however, elements we can pull together from the Bible on how to please God and make the most of our time when we do come together as a church. Here are a few suggestions:
First, come prepared. Do you pray before the church meets together? Do you have a sense of expectation? Spending some time in prayer before church is a great way to prepare your mind and heart for what God wants to do.
Consider starting with praise. Psalm 100:4 says, Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
King David said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Are we glad when we gather together with the household of God? We should be. Let's offer up praise and speak out our thanksgiving when we gather in his name. Singing songs, shouting praises, and clapping hands are all biblical ways to give glory to God.
Then what? Again, there is no set plan, but here's what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
(1 Corinthians 14:26)
Church is the body of Christ and every one of us are members of that body. We like to have full use of our bodies; so does Christ. Everyone of us should come prepared to take part whether it's sharing a testimony to God's goodness, a short teaching or doctrine, a special song, a word in tongues followed by interpretation, etc., Share life situations, ask for prayer and wisdom and expect God to move. The end goal should be full participation so that everyone is edified, rather than one person preaching to everyone else week after week. Allow room for everyone to share something and watch how God uses everyone - including you!
To me, church is like a potluck. Everyone brings something that compliments what others have brought. Some bring main dishes, others bring sides and desserts. All the elements form a complete meal and no one person is responsible for everything. If we gather together with the understanding that it's God's church and not our program, then we'll be more focused on God having his way with his people. Sometimes that means I'll be teaching today...or that I'll be listening. Either way is fine with me because I've learned to check my ego and agenda at the door. It's not about me; it's about us together.
Finally, church is a family. It's not a weekly event. How many perfect families do you know? I'll bet not many. Every family has a their celebrities and “interesting” aunts and uncles. They all have their sweet fathers and overly organized mothers. Let's give out as much grace as we want in return and realize that church isn't "perfect" now but an ongoing work in progress.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Learning how to have church at home involves lots of love and endurance. One gathering may be vastly different from another, but each time can be a great learning and growing experience. Be open to everything that doesn't go against the Word of God. Meet in different houses, meet at the park, go to the beach! Sing with music or a capella. Meeting around a kitchen table works for some but the living room might be more comfortable. Share a meal, consider having soft instrumental music playing in the background or enjoy the sunshine in your back yard. Don't feel like it has to be a certain way every time or that it should resemble a denominational church service. Be the church God wants you to be and grow together. Dress comfortably, relax about how long things go, and enjoy each other!
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)