Religion, but no church required

TheStar.com - Religion, but no church required: "His parents did not attend church, so neither did he. But after his little sister brought home a copy of the New Testament from school, he read it and wanted to study it more.

So, under his parents' radar, he began attending an after-school Bible study group.

'They were afraid I was going to join a cult,' he says. 'Now, they get it.'

Zdero attended a formal church while at university in Kingston, but even there found himself drawn to organizing home Bible study sessions, and eventually left the church in favour of home worship.

He likes the idea that there are no leaders, though the unpaid hosts of the groups tend to act as facilitators of the discussion or suggest Bible passages to be read if no one else does.

Regional networks are organized to help home churches with logistical questions of how to organize a weekly gathering, and to pool resources for charity work such as helping developing countries or the disadvantaged closer to home, Zdero says.

But the networks make a point of not acting as spiritual guides, handing down spiritual interpretations or edicts, as might be expected from a church's central organization.

'Each home church remains a self-governing unit,' he says.

People are attracted to home churches because they allow people to explore their faith on their own terms, he says, with people who share their views. Costs are shared, but rarely add up to more than it would cost to have a few friends over for dessert once a week.

The size of the groups depends on the size of the home, says Zdero, adding that when a gathering gets too big it will split into smaller groups.

'Once you reach the limits of your living room, the question isn't `When do we start building?'' Zdero says.

'It's `Who is going to open up their living room?''"

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