We’ve now had over a year’s worth of Sundays on the road. However I still stumble over myself when asked, “What do you do for church while traveling in an RV?” It’s a straightforward question but the answer isn’t clear-cut. Come with me while I unpack the details of what church looks like for us while RVing.
WHAT IS CHURCH?
Both Trent and I grew up going to church on Sundays. It is part of our family history and something we value. We believe that the church should be important to us because it is important to God. He loved the church. He gave Himself up for it (Ephesians 5:25).
Yet, as I’ve grown, so has my concept of what the church actually is. As a child, church was the white building on the street corner with a cross on top. Church was something we went to and sequentially left each week. Church was a building, a place of gathering, and an icon in town with a cross on the roof. This is not what Christ died for. Instead, I believe Christ died for people. John 10:11 tells us that Christ is the Shepherd who lays down His life for his sheep (not their barn). Therefore, my understanding has grown to realize that “church” is wherever believers are gathered together, regardless of the day of the week or the location of the gathering.
This may seem like an unnecessary distinction to make; however, I believe it is important to start here. Without this clarification, it can be easy to wander off into unnecessary confusion when answering the question, “What will you do for church on the road?” Because there is a big difference between asking, “What building do you plan to go to on Sundays?” and “How will you stay connected with other believers?”
DON’T STOP GATHERING
The writer to the Hebrews warned the early church to “not stop gathering together with other believers, as some are you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming” Hebrews 10:25. I believe this has as much relevance now as it did when first penned. As believers we crave time with other believers and that time pays dividends of encouragement, accountability and spiritual growth.
Although it’s much more typical given the largely stationary lifestyle that most Americans live, the beautiful reality is that the believers that we gather with don’t have to be the same each week in order for this plan unfold.
HOW DO YOU GATHER MOVING TARGETS?
Truth be told, prior to launching into our nomadic lifestyle, we didn’t know what this “meeting together” would look like on the road. We knew we were not the only nomadic believers and we knew where we could find believers gathering each week across the country, but we didn’t know how that would all play out for us personally. Thus we entered into the unknown waters curious to see what we would find.
What we have discovered is that finding your people on the road is a lot like finding your people while stationary.
It takes time.
There can be awkwardness.
It requires motivated intentionality.
It’s worth the pursuit.
WHAT SUNDAY LOOKS LIKE FOR US
After 14 months on the road, we have settled into a mixed rhythm. On Sunday’s we often look for a local group of believers to meet with, but not religiously (sorry, I couldn’t help it). We often seek out places of worship where we are in the ethnic minority or where the church dynamics differ from our previous typical.
We’ve worshiped from a camp chair and from a balcony overlooking a full-blown orchestra. We’ve been the only family wearing white skin and in the minority without a suit, tie or high heals. Taking notes on a sermon given by a pastor wearing camo shorts and a baseball cap has fallen on the other end of our formal vs. laid-back spectrum. We’ve sat still, quiet and reverent on some Sundays and we’ve clapped, nodded and felt the floor shake from exuberant dancing on others. Each time we have been gifted with a new perspective and appreciation for the unique and varied Body of Christ.
WHAT ABOUT CONSISTENCY?
While our Sunday interactions mostly differ from week to week and we have grown and been stretched through them, I believe there is something important and vital in meeting together with a consistent group of believers.
This desire has been met by connecting to a core group of people on a regular basis through a weekly, small group bible study using Google Hangouts. This bible study, led by fellow full-timers Ben and Marti Skeat, is comprised of traveling families who wish to maintain accountability and growth despite our nomadic tendencies.
Occasionally our paths cross with our small group friends and we have the pleasure to sit side by side during our bible study interactions. This is an extra special treat. Just recently we joined up with the Skeat family in Menifee, California. Not only have we had the pleasure of regular face-to-face interaction, but we were also able to visit their home church and celebrate Ben’s recent ordination.
WHAT ABOUT SERVING?
While our current arrangement isn’t perfect, neither was our pre-traveling scenario. All options have their pros and cons. One of the primary cons we’ve identified is a lack of regular service opportunities within the church. It’s not typically possible to serve when you are the newest people through the door. However, even in this arena options abound, it’s just a matter of identification and initiative.
To this end we are working on developing a list of family friendly service options with RV access/hookups (onsite or nearby). If you know of a place that should be added to this list, won’t you please leave a comment with the details? Once our list is assembled, I’ll publish it here on the blog so others can use it as a resource as well.
What about you? Is this a question you have wrestled with? If you travel, what does church look like for you? What are some of the struggles and blessings you have discovered along the way?