Being ‘Church’

Home for Good believe the Church is ideally placed to make a transformational difference, offering more safe and loving homes for children and teenagers who are waiting and a robust and stable support network ready to welcome and care.

For a long time, that word ‘church’ conjured images in my mind of the building I visited every Sunday; wooden pews, stained glass windows, Bibles on every seat (in this particular church, each wore a blue quilted Bible cover, with gold lettering on the front carefully embroidered by a member of the congregation). I thought of Sunday school and youth club, of familiar songs, prayers and stories.

It's a pretty typical Sunday school answer, but it’s true; ‘Church’ means more than just our Sunday morning or evening routines and activities. It’s more than just a building, a room or a service. Over time, I’ve come to associate the word ‘Church’ with the individuals who make up my church family. I think of the couple who invited me for dinner every week when I was a student. I think of the worship leader who encouraged me to join the team and use my voice to lead our community in praise. I think of the children and teenagers who bring us joy each Sunday morning. I think of those who control the powerpoint, who set out the chairs, who share God’s word with us.

Much more recently, my understanding of ‘Church’ has continued to develop. When COVID-19 and the consequential restrictions meant that we couldn’t gather in our church spaces together, Church took on a different form. Many of us moved online, joining with our community through our computer screens or phones. We were creative in finding new ways to continue to meet the needs in our communities, doing what we could to ensure people had access to food, medication, laptops for online school, friendship.

There are a lot of things that look different, if we were to compare Church today to the Church we read about in Acts. But there are a lot of things that have remained the same, too.

In Acts 2, we’re given a picture of the early Christian Church. After Peter had shared the good news of Jesus, the number of followers grew exponentially. We read of a new way of living that developed. One of the things they devoted themselves to was ‘fellowship’.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2: 40

The word Luke uses for ‘fellowship’ is ‘koinonia’.

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Acts 2: 44-45

This word ‘koinonia’ can also be translated to mean ‘common.’

It’s a word that our English language distils down but, that is rich and layered in its meaning. The Church devoted themselves to being together, and as they learned more about Jesus and following Him, it caused them to think differently about how they lived their lives, the things they owned, how they spent their time, who they welcomed into their homes.

Just as hospitality in the Bible is more than having friends and family over, so fellowship is more than ‘just’ informal gatherings or coffee time after a service. We’re called to share our lives, every part of them, with others.

Paul writes to the church in Philippi and says that he wants to know Christ and the power of his resurrection...that he...may share his sufferings. Philippians 3: 10

The word that’s been translated as ‘share’ here is ‘koinonia’.

This kind of sharing carries weight. Paul is recognising here that knowing Jesus in such an intimate way means acknowledging cost, suffering and sacrifice. Practicing true fellowship and community needs to look different to what the world recognises. Yes, fellowship – togetherness – means celebrating life’s joys together. But it also means being present in the more difficult times; sharing the weight, carrying it together.

We at Home for Good love the Church – both the Church with a capital C, the body of Christ spanning denominations, generations and locations, and the local church, with all its associated traditions and quirks and all the wonderful things that make it a ‘family’ for so many. Home for Good exists because we believe that the Church has a unique role to play to ensure that every child and young person experiences the welcome, care, stability and sense of belonging they deserve.

There are around 50,000 churches in the UK. In every city, town and village across the country there are churches – big, small and in between – filled with people from a variety of backgrounds, with different skills, interests and passions, carrying different stories. If more individuals, couples and families in our church congregations were to open their home to children and teenagers through fostering, adoption or supported lodgings, we could make a transformational difference, changing the landscape of the UK care system.

But it can’t stop there. Not every person who is part of a church community will be in a position to welcome a child or teenager into their family, and those who can shouldn’t be expected to do so alone. Although every story is different, all care-experienced children have experienced trauma. The impact of this trauma can affect their lives in a variety of ways; from building and sustaining relationships, to the way they react to certain situations, from learning needs to mental health challenges and more. Caring for children in this way requires time. It often means advocating tirelessly on behalf of the child or young person. It’s a huge privilege and will bring such joy, but it can also bring uncertainty and questions, frustration or heartache.

What could make all the difference? Koinonia; having others to authentically share life with. A network of people to support us when things are difficult. Someone to provide a meal. A shoulder to cry on. Someone to walk and talk with. Koinonia has the power make an enormous difference in the lives of those who are fostering, have adopted or are caring for children or teenagers in some capacity; to have mutually supportive relationships, full of encouragement and love with others who count it a privilege to share in their lives – and that’s life in all its beauty and mess, joy and pain?

Home for Good believe the Church is ideally placed to make a transformational difference, offering more safe and loving homes for children and teenagers who are waiting and a robust and stable support network ready to welcome and care.

So, what could being ‘Church’ look like for you?

Author:
Rosie at Home for Good


Date published:
May 2022


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