Bringing Church Home with Gannon Sims

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What does it mean for Christians to “bring church home,” and why did you write this book now?

Bringing church home is about finding our true home in God and our home and family life is one of the most obvious and overlooked vehicles for how we get there, because families are where we learn to give and receive love. Sometimes we don’t learn this in our own families, which is how the family of God (the church) helps with this. This is a subject with which I’ve been wrestling for some time but the pandemic season really drove home the point so it was an important topic to address now, especially given the need we have in the church to rethink how and why we gather.

Church leaders spend a lot of energy getting our programs for discipleship, evangelism, and social justice right and miss the fact that the family is actually designed to integrate all of these things. We don’t need a new program. We need to realize that family is the program we’ve had all along. When our life at home is reoriented around Jesus and offers room for others who are not part of our biological family to learn to give and receive love– we’ll see a great shift in the life of the church as a whole.

How would you describe the current model of “being” the church, and how would you contrast that to what you’re proposing in this resource?

The current model of equating Christianity with Sunday worship isn’t connecting with vast amounts of people–including many Christians. The big church (often encapsulated in the Sunday gathering) is only as strong as the little churches (homes and families) who make up the whole. So if homes are reoriented around Jesus–and others who don’t have home and family, or who have had bad experiences of home and family can be invited into that, I think that’s how we’ll see seeds of revival moving forward.

What grounding does this creative expression have in theological-historical models and a robust theology of the family? Do you have any personal experience or stories that emerge from your living this way?

Home is the first church. The early church met in homes, so historically and theologically we’ve got to reason with why this is so. This expression of church is not merely creative in the artistic sense, it’s creative and intrinsic to God’s design for life. The word oikos (the greek word for home) is the same root in the words we get for economy and ecology, so what flows from the home should theoretically undergird impact every aspect of society.

We’ve seen this in our own life by sharing our home with others, making it possible for young people and university students to have an affordable place to live. We’ve also seen this in our interaction with local business owners who’ve learned to see their businesses as extensions of their home and family life. But I’m saying too much. To get the good stories, you have to read the book!

Can you paint a picture of how families and homes can serve as a missional hub in neighborhoods?

Families and homes are on the front lines of mission and serve in this way by knowing their neighbors, participating in and even convening neighborhood and other community activities. Too often, Christian families get caught in a sea of activities “at church” and this takes some of our best players off the field. If church leaders can shift their perspective to see how their people (parishoners, congregants, members) are already part of ‘little churches’ and equip them to be church where they live, and give space and intention for new relationships to develop naturally, we’ll see home and family life as the secret to evangelism.

What is the biggest challenge to overcoming the lack of creativity and imagination you set forth in Bringing Church Home?

The default settings of what constitutes “church” are so strong. The pandemic forced us to reconsider how and why we gather and I want us to sit with this. Regathering is important but not if it rushes past the great advantages we can offer by equipping our people to see home as a vital place for mission and ministry. Being church from home is different than watching church from home.

If God’s people were to finish engaging this resource and live into it with all their heart, what would happen in the world? How would people access the good news of Jesus differently?

If people were to fully engage with this resource, we’d see more people welcomed into Christian community through their interactions with Christians in regular life. We’d see homes as the solution to the loneliness, alienation, and isolation that so many experience and we’d see marriages and family-communities as an icon of our eternal life in God as we learn to give and receive love like God.

In a day of statistical decline in church participation, what if we imagined marriages as little churches and households as living demonstrations of the way that God’s love is reoriented around Jesus? Bringing Church Home: How the Family of God Makes Us a Little More Human invites readers are invited into a kind of radical kinship rooted in family-community love. In his first book, author Gannon Sims shows how our homes can become hubs for mission pointing toward our true home where we—no matter our previous experiences of family or home or love—can find kinship in God.

Perfect for:

  • Leaders adapting to new cultural realities
  • Churches engaged in mission
  • Small groups focused on neighborhoods
  • Church planting groups

In these pages you’ll:

  • Learn how and why the church as God’s family forms disciples
  • Be encouraged to engage in mission for homes, neighborhoods, and cities
  • Discover the family household as a hub for reaching the lost with the gospel

Order the book from our store here.

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Gannon Sims (MDiv, Duke Divinity School) is director of ministry formation and a founding team member of Fresh Expressions US, a movement seeking to bring the church Jesus loves closer to the people Jesus loves. He lives with his wife, Carey, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where they direct the Center for Faith and Leadership, a training and equipping hub for university students and young leaders and the Center Community.

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