As house churches start up again, we want to share a story of one person's experience with house church last year. Meet Andreos Chunaco. Andreos has the very relatable story of a real person wrestling with real doubt and trying to justify that with the God he'd always known. When asked to join a house church last year, Andreos joined. Through the community he found there, he was able to voice his doubts and disbelief in a very safe, loving environment and rediscover faith and how to encounter the God that created us for community and created us to love one another. We pray that through Andreos' story and the stories of others, you'll take the leap of faith and get into community through house church. Whether you're a skeptic or a long time believer, there's a place for you at the table. All it requires of you is to take one step in joining.
"It had been about two years since I called myself a Christian by any stretch of the term. I was at M.L. Rose, catching up over some beers with an old friend I had met from working with a local non-profit, helping to run one of their projects for those experiencing homelessness here in Nashville. Whitney [Peterson] was a fast friend and one, unlike most in the Nashville scene, who would keep up with people she had gotten to know. At one point she asked me why I had been gone from the organization for such a long time, so I told her about how I had fallen away from the fold, how I was no longer a Christian, and how my beliefs were actually—and had always been—drastically different from the mainstream — so there was no way I could continue in a leadership role at a Christian non-profit. I went from Donald Miller to Rob Bell to Peter Rollins, then off the cliff. I told her, “Paradoxically, since I finally came out as not being able to consider myself a Christian anymore, I've been more in love with Jesus than ever.” More than my Louie Giglio, John Piper, Fred Stoeker and Steve Arterbern, John and Stasi Eldredge, Joshua Harris reading days. I still believed Jesus held the keys and bore the most true perspective of how to live on Earth — in other-centered, unconditional, sacrificial love. It was the moment I knew I had no need for a system of beliefs to believe his words. They made sense. Alone. He made sense. Two thousand years later.
“I’m starting a house church this year. I really think you should join!” Whitney said.
I remember how taken aback I was. I remember thinking and wanting to say, “Did you not just hear all that? I’m the furthest thing from something like that.” I remember wondering why, because I trusted her and knew it was not out of naivety or trying to help thoughtlessly. I wondered what she knew that I did not. The next words out of my mouth were probably something stupid like, “Really?” to which she gently added, “I think your perspective would be great for the conversations we’ll have. The house church is all about exploring and getting to know Jesus more, and that's where you're at too, right?” Something about that had me. I was in. It certainly sounded better than cherry picking my favorite pastors' podcasts and visiting church every few months or so, which I had still been doing. Then it was just about actually showing up — because, truthfully, Nashville has been home for several years now and a lot has rubbed off.
I missed the first one or two house church meetings. Surprise. At my first one, they were still in an icebreaker and getting-to-know-one-another stage — and they were still very much a ‘they’. Whitney and Hanna, the house church leaders, chose to end those early meetings with deeper, personal questions pertaining to house church. One night, we went around answering why we had joined, what we expected, and what we hoped for from a house church. While everyone’s answer was different, our common denominator outside of the Sunday school answer was we were looking for connection — in different ways and different forms -- but connection in community. My Brené Brown background emphasized, aloud, that such connection would only come from real vulnerability. So Nashville. No show, then late, then quoting TED Talks.
It all changed —and for me, started — one of the nights when we were sharing our life stories. Some shared everything from the standard parts to the hardest, most raw, most traumatic defining moments of their lives; the loss of siblings, the loss of parents, sexual abuse, and the deepest personal struggles. One minute they felt like strangers and in the next I felt like I knew them. More truly, they felt like they were allowing me to actually know them.
They opened the doors for the rest of us to be equally as vulnerable and possibly known. Their courage to share at that level set the precedent for us and invited us into a place where we could all be known, understood, and loved in the deepest ways. What that ended up meaning to my path with Christ was that I was able to voice my full thoughts, doubts, worries, confusions, and challenges knowing that they cared to know, because they knew and cared about me. I wish I could say I shared without fear, but I hesitated each and every time; rejection of my beliefs, damage to their faith, pure nerves as an introvert. The result was just as consistent. They did not shun me, fade out in passive ways, or try to convince me of how they saw things. They related, in my wildest doubts and fears, and told me I was absolutely not alone. Maybe they were not sharing with me in stance, but they shared with me in questions, musings, uncertainty, fear; it was not beyond them.
House church to me was a place I went to become a part of their lives and allow others to become a part of my life. It became a place of service and openness, where I reached out and stretched my own self, when I chose to love and be loved. It was a wealth of relationships with different people who inspired, edified, challenged, and stimulated me. It exercised something about my spirituality that made it grow stronger and more pronounced over time. It cultivated parts of me that desired to know my creator and figure out how to have relationship with and encounter that creator. It made me wonder about a great many things, and from months of gradually wrestling with the concept, at the worship and baptism night at the Ryman last April, I was the very last, late, stubborn one who got baptized.
Fast forward almost six months to today. Some of the closest people in my life are from last year's house church. Some will hold that capacity for the rest of my life. Last Sunday, I prayed my first prayer in years with a couple of people for whom I have that house church to thank. The growth has been steady and slow, but in a fashion that makes me more sure of its hold. House church was that good gardener for me who came through my gates, re-tilled the land, planted a seed, and saw to its growth for a season. Everyone in it was that good gardener for me. Everyone in it was Him."
This is Andreos' story. Our hope is that something in here spoke to you, and that you would prayerfully consider getting into a house church community. For more information on Ethos house churches or to sign up for a house church, click here, or if you have any questions, email .
We desire to highlight the work of Jesus in our people, our city, and our world. If you have a story you'd like to share with us, email it to .