But the meeting is proving to be useful. For one thing, we’re actually meeting. Our Family Home Evening observance had gotten pretty slack, because Monday is busy, and everyone has different schedules, and after all who needs a lesson when you have an activity, and who needs an activity if you coordinate schedules over dinner? But home church is church, and we show up to our meetings, especially if they’re held in the living room.
We have the afternoon church schedule this year, so what’s working for us is to start home church 60 minutes before the meetings start. We have an opening prayer, make brief announcements, and then have a lesson, finishing by 30 minutes before meetings start. Ten minutes of final preparations let us head out the door to church 20 minutes before meetings start so that the organist can arrive in time to play prelude music. Everybody has to be ready for church before home church starts, though. I don’t know what we’ll do next year when we’re on the morning church schedule.
Since we’ve already had a meeting at home, when I get to Sunday School, I’ve read the lesson and the assigned chapters from the New Testament, which makes the whole experience better for everyone. Having the manual assign lessons by week instead of by chapter number is brilliant. No matter what conferences have occurred and no matter where we go, everyone knows what lesson we’re on.
With three kids ages 10-17 at home, we’ve adopted a schedule where everyone takes a turn teaching a lesson. (The 10-year-old is using Wayment’s New Testament translation for reading and teaching.) Our first set of lessons were…bad. Mine included. It turns out that having a couple of interesting points, or a set of questions to pester people with, or the whole lesson manual on your phone is not the same thing as having a lesson prepared. We resolved to do better. We’re now insisting that the teacher have a lesson plan written down on paper. The lesson can’t cover everything, so the teacher needs to pick and choose one or two main points, prepare some things to say, and have one or two questions to ask. Our second set of lessons has been pretty decent.
It turns out that home church is especially useful for those Sundays when church is canceled. Maybe you’re living in one of those places where church is never canceled because the weather is always beautiful, or where the ward building is within a half mile of every ward member. But if you’re living in a place where it takes three hours to drive from one end of your ward to the other, and the state department of transportation might close half the roads in the state and issue no-travel recommendations for the rest on any given Sunday between Halloween and Easter, home church is very useful. In less than three months, we’ve had four Sundays where we’ve held expanded services with an opening and closing song, both an invocation and benediction, and more expansive announcements, because nobody in town is leaving their homes or driving anywhere without risking their lives.
So home church is useful. I like it. Since we have the chance to make of it whatever we want, I hope you’re turning into something you like.