I ran across this now-inactive blog today and thought I would share the link for future reference for those curious about what this house church thing is all about.
The author explored many of the topics we've addressed as a community in her journey from institutional church to a home-based fellowship that at one time gathered upwards of 60 people.
Here's an eye-opening snippet concerning why her church doesn't practice prayer "requests," per se (not that there's anything wrong with them -- methods vary!):
"... Very often, a person might begin to share with the body about what God was doing in their life that week. They may start to explain their struggles from the week or their hurts. Or they may just be sharing a piece of encouragement. Either way, if they need prayer it is evident. Another person will usually initiate prayer by going over to them…and get this, starting to pray.
We then gather around that person–all 40 or 50 of us–and lay hands on them. (As an aside, at the end of our corporate meeting we have a time of ministry where we pray for each other in groups of 2- to maybe 7 or 8 people. This time of prayer also follows the description that follows and it is amazing…)
... People begin to pray in and through the Spirit. Some pray quietly, some boldly, but every prayer is led by the Spirit. Which means that it is God who is directing the prayer, not us.
And very often, the prayer request that was given is not what the Lord begins to speak to. Very often, we watch as God opens up the quiet, untouched, often dark places of a person’s soul. Very often, God’s agenda is different from our own. Very often, Jesus has something else to say altogether.
... And time and time again, this is what I have seen in my church family–that as we step back and allow the Holy Spirit room to move and quietness to speak, He never intends to only meet an earthly need. He always intends to do more. He heals the whole man because He loves the whole man."