Ken and Judy White knew it was time to downsize. So they sold their home in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, and moved to a retirement community in nearby Eaton. It meant a 30-minute drive to worship at the Basore Road Grace Brethren Church, where they have been active members for nearly 20 years.
“Oh, it’s a little harder to get back for midweek things, but it’s not that bad,” Ken, a retired electrical contractor, said with a smile. (That’s him in the photo below. Judy is in the photo at right.)
Challenged by Basore Road GBC Pastor Shannon Horst, they decided to begin a church in their neighborhood. One Saturday last summer, they knocked on the door of every home in their new community – all 45 of them.
They began by inviting everyone to their home. “We’re going to sing, read Scripture, and share prayer requests,” Ken said they told people. “We’re going to have fellowship together.”
Beginning in early June, they began meeting on Thursday nights. Pastor Horst came the first few weeks to lead a verse-by-verse discussion on the book of John, but Rob, the White’s son-in-law, has guided the conversation since. He uses five simple questions: What did you hear that you liked? What did you hear that you didn’t like? What did you hear that you were confused about or didn’t know? What did you learn new about Jesus? What does Jesus want us to do this week?
“It engages everyone,” noted Ken. “Nobody is being preached at, per se, but they’re talking to each other and interacting with Scripture.”
The White’s dream of beginning a church was almost squashed when they discovered that the covenants of their community barred them from starting a church. Not to be dissuaded, they continued to meet as a Bible study.
They take prayer requests at each meeting, which Judy prints out and delivers to everyone, plus several who are care-givers for their spouses and can’t attend. They’ve had a carry-in dinner and a carol sing. “We have wonderful evenings of fellowship together,” says Judy.
“We’ve found it was a great way for us to meet our neighbors,” adds Ken. But at the same time, the two have followed the advice of Tony Webb, the executive director of VisionOhio, who met with them as they started – “Just do it and watch for Jesus to show up.”
For them, the end result isn’t as important as the process.
“I wasn’t far-thinking as to what the church might become necessarily, as it was to be obedient to what we thought we should do,” adds Ken. “It was a great way to meet our neighbors because we had a reason to talk to them.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information about ministries in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.