“Belonging happens before believing” writes Floyd McClung. Debbie was newly separated, two kids in tow, moving on from a long-dead abusive marriage. Linda met her in class. Soon to be a nurse, hope was at last emerging. There we were, carrying couches, beds and boxes up the long flight overtop the pharmacy. Smelled like fresh paint. Debbie was bouncy, even elated. Strangers elicited by her friend. She wiped tears as we turned out the drive. Linda wrapped her arms around her. Debbie came to Jesus that week. The love, the sense of family, was too much to deny the otherworldly character of this contagious gospel. The beach was the target. Fifteen of us; the oldest was twenty-five. Sand, impromptu picnic food and a jumble of cars took us to our weekly escape at the lake. Fun was like a cascading snowball picking up surprises along its descent. One, two, three, four new friends, each becoming a follower of the One we were so enthused about. From campus to beach to our homes to fellowship meetings. Swept up into something greater than themselves. They in time settled into the relational rhythm of this not-quite a church collection of Jesus followers. New to town as students. Three bright lights from Burkina Faso. Daryl heard them down the aisle at Home Depot. He cozied up, step by step till he heard his hoped-for French. This led to jobs, later to an apartment and finally to house church, Daryl’s jobs, Daryl’s rental and Daryl’s house church in Daryl’s home. Daryl’s family and friends became theirs. Now all the house churches love the French West African brothers. Weekly the life of the church hums along with hundreds of calls and conversations, shared errands, discipling connections, encouraging notes, coffee sipping appointments, serving, birthdays, passing on hand-me-downs and overflowing plates and trays as house churches begin. Community is life on life. A doctrine of Koinonia that was once part of the transition is now the fabric of daily life. What appears spontaneous and automatic flows from each us continually choosing to be with one another, each saying no to our insular, private lives and each believing that our destinies are intertwined. These are several principles that cultivate our life together: 1- Jesus called us to be a redeemed community not isolated and independent individualists. 2- The New Covenant gives us the relational ethic that enables us to live together in a loving, responsible manner. 3- We are on a united mission to make disciples. Those disciples are birthed through relationships and folded into community. 4- We attempt to do life together. Shop, work, play and serve God together as friends and teammates. One motto is: “Never do anything alone.” Bring someone along. This way relationships are built, discipleship progresses and equipping happens as purposefulness is woven into the fabric of the otherwise mundane. 5- Every gathering of the church is an opportunity to celebrate. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and promotions call for cakes, cards and affectionate honor. 6- Keep short accounts of offenses, admonish as needed, forgive, reconcile and talk conflicts through. It takes a long time to build a relationship but only moments to destroy. Stay humble. 7- Teach and model the “one anothers” of the New Testament. Love one another, show honor to one another, submit to one another, forgive one another…. Simple church life is not as simple as church-as-an-audience but it sure is more satisfying. Life together, where many through Jesus become one, has all the life and dynamic to change the world.