"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Compare House Churches to Institutional Churches

I often receive correspondence from people who've read my book Fraudulent Authority, asking me questions about how an institutional or traditional church can operate if there is "no authority" vested in the office of pastor or in "male elders who rule over God's people."

First, I explain that there is a difference between spiritual authority and legal authority.

A police officer who stops you has legal authority, but he or she is not your spiritual authority. So too, in any church that petitions the government for 501-C3 non-profit status (incorporation status), there are people that the state recognizes as the legal authority of that church.

It's not the pastor. It's not the people. The state recognizes the trustees of the incorporated church as the legal authority.

Most Christians don't realize that if a traditional church faces a lawsuit, the trustees of the church are the ones who go to court. Insurance policies cover the church for liability, but trustees answer to the court on all legal matters.

Emmanuel Enid has a leadership team that is composed of the chairpersons of our seven standing committees (Finance, Personnel, Missions, etc.) and five trustees, plus the Lead Pastor. No person on this Leadership Team, including the pastor, has spiritual authority over anybody else.

But we recognize that the state places legal authority in the trustees, and civil authority in the pastor (e.g. marriage ceremonies, special exemptions on taxes, etc.).

There is no spiritual authority over anybody in the church except Jesus Christ.
Jesus called them aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave." Matthew 20:25-27
Half of our Leadership Team is composed of females, and the other half is composed of males. The best leadership decision we've ever made as a church in the last 50 years at Emmanuel Enid is placing gifted, humble women of character in positions of leadership. 

All business decisions between quarterly church business meetings are made by the Leadership Team. But no one person on the Leadership Team considers himself or herself greater than, lord over, or ruler of any person in the church of Jesus Christ. 

We leave rulership to Him.

House Churches vs. Traditional Churches


Once people begin to understand that all spiritual authority is invested in Christ, and His Spirit becomes the sole ruler in the hearts of His people, then the next question that arises goes like this: 
"Well if that's the case, wouldn't it be better for Christians to meet in homes and do Kingdom work than to waste money on traditional churches where preachers act as if they are God's vicar on earth?"
It's a good question.

I pastor a fairly large church, but I'm sympathetic toward house churches.

I also understand more than most that the church where I pastor can do far more to impact nations and people groups cooperating in massive mission efforts than a local house church. But, truth be known, house churches can participate with other large 501C-3 non-profits and participate in some of the same humanitarian and gospel work that we do at Emmanuel Enid.

So let's talk about the pros/cons of house churches vs. traditional churches.

Graeme Cooksley of Australia has read Fraudulent Authority, and he is involved in a house church. He also has leadership experience in a large, traditional church which possessed a good understanding of proper servant leadership (e.g. pastors or elders who refused to rule over or control people).

Graeme has given me some insight into the pros and cons of house churches vs. insitutional churches, and he's given me permission to share it with you.
________

It is assumed that house churches (HC), function with small numbers, often 20 or less. Institutional churches (IC) may be from 20 up to mega size in numbers.

The Meaning of "Church"

The HC concept is that the Christian is ‘being the Church’, (as opposed to ‘going to church’), wherever he/she may be. The follow on from this is that one’s whole life is seen as ministry. This can empower too, as any part of life is seen as missional.
The IC is seen as its members finding their identity in ‘going to church’, often with tribal undertones, and the church often functions along business (think hierarchical tree), or association paradigms. Often, whatever the member wants to pursue, is controlled from “the Top”, both within and without the fellowship. (Note: this last characteristic can be found in HCs too, if dominated and controlling leadership is present in them.)

Relationships

The HC is more relational with the smaller numbers. Good personal relationships between attendees are often the normal, which helps build a sense of community, or family feel.
The IC lack good relationships between attendees, and rather, may provide the anonymity that some may like or prefer, but, it may also leave people feeling alone/lost “in the crowd”.

Hospitality

The HC is often structured to include a meal (start or finish), and if not that, then some form of refreshment and fellowship “around the table” that involves all participating.
This may be more difficult in the IC, and refreshment may lead to friends/cliques meeting (to catch up!), that tends to be isolationist, and often tends to leave others out.


Prominent Personality 1

The HC may have a dominant vocal person that makes group participation difficult. This person may too, be a bully. 
The IC church setting, because of traditional program or culture, does not see this so often, although the ‘leader’ (pastor), may be prominent, even to the stage of gaining a following. It may be evident too, in the IC’s small groups setting. The leader or others in a small group may be a bully.

Prominent Personality 2

 The HC setting generally functions in an “all expected to participate/contribute” setting. Often someone will share or teach, and it tends to be dialogue rather than monologue. Often someone is asked to share “next week”, this is a jump off point. All the attendees are encouraged to be participators, ask questions (nothing out of bounds!), discuss, or challenge any teaching or statement. Duties tend to fall on the persons gifted in that particular area, i.e. functional ministries.
The IC often has a prominent person, generally the “pastor”, and there is a traditional program format that tends to inhibit open individual participation, particularly with ordinances and sacraments, which may require “qualified” ministries. The attendees tend to have a passive/spectator role, apart from corporate singing, and rostered and appointed duties.

Theological Error

The HC may face erroneous teaching, and it often depends on the maturity and knowledge of the others, to detect error and bring correction. Error or suspect matter can often quickly be confronted in a small group. On the other hand a heterodoxical view, or alternative interpretation of text(s) may cause a problem in a small group, either by division, or total acceptance and focus on that theme/topic, thus leading to unbalanced teaching.
The IC may also face erroneous teaching that may not be so easy to correct, especially if it come from a controlling, authoritive pastor, with no or little accountability to attendees, or other leadership. Often IC constitutions or rules may be more man-made than Scriptural, and the IC “cultural inertia” may make change/correction almost impossible, especially if it is a top-down doctrine/teaching.

Meeting Content

The HC setting allows flexibility/spontaneity, not only in meeting together times, but in content, and the opportunity to be led by the Spirit, but in a small gathering, people with certain Gifts of the Holy Spirit, may not be present to contribute to and/or encourage the others. (cf above in Prominent Personality 2: )
Generally, everyone can make a contribution in the meeting, or share gifts and ministries in other ways.
The HC meeting may tend towards topical sharing, and may even be unbalanced by emphasis in one area.
The IC setting tends to be program driven, which may be restrictive, especially to individual gifted attendees. Some may never get opportunity to exercise their gifts/ministry in the congregational setting.
The majority of those in a meeting will be spectators, with only a few participating. Often, in Pentecostal/Charismatic fellowships some of the Gifts of the Spirit may operate, involving a few people (sometimes, even, in an allocated program time span!).
Some ICs often follow a prescribed lectionary program (over, say, 3 years), and preaching/teaching is often linked to those texts and church calendar themes, which can lead to more expository rather than topical teaching/preaching.
In both settings a lack of preparation by participants may affect the gathering.

Finances

The HC generally has little overhead expenses and salary costs for staff. Giving can be utilised fully for external purposes. Giving is not a strong topic or raised very often. (My view is that giving should be Spirit-led, not mechanical, or obligatory tithes. GC)
The IC, often with property, buildings and salary overheads, means that a substantial part of giving is for self-supporting purposes. However, by combining with other IC churches (in the denomination), giving may allow larger money sums be provided for substantial expenditure items, e.g. missional projects.

Accountability

The HC fellowships tend to be autonomous, and may not be open to accountability by others, if error or problems arise. The autonomy may cause a disconnect with other parts of The Church in a city.
The IC may provide a means of oversight and accountability. However, if the IC’s denomination moves into error, then so does the IC, which then may give rise to constitutional problems, if it wants to disassociate with that denominational stand. Likewise, an IC may, or may not, connect with and relate to other parts of The Church in a city. In some cases, the IC may actually be autonomous, and if part of a denominational group, control or relational pressure from that group may not be possible, e.g. the SBC.

Authority

The HC situation may vary: 1. often authority is carried by the fellowship, in that, some decisions are consensus voice, and at other times it may be vested in a person, depending on their giftedness (functional), and the situation. Overall there is a recognition that Jesus is the ultimate authority. This authority is supportive of others’ ministries and callings. 
2. On the other hand, some HCs have a controlling person(s), exercising authority, that tends to brook no dissent and conformity.
The IC tends to have authority vested in those in positional (office) places, and like 2., of the HC above, the authority is authoritive, controlling, and may not be accountable to others. It can lead to “my way, or the highway” scenes with others. The structures tend be hierarchal, often with the hierarchal line extending outside the local congregation, or even outside the geographical boundaries of area and/or country. The IC often has a “corporation” feel about it, and the authority may be exercised more in a CEO manner rather than out of servanthood.

Metrics

The HC measures strengths of relationships, between one another, and more importantly between the individuals and God. The latter is presumed in the (oft asked) question, “What has God been saying to you today? Is there something we need to hear, or act on?” Relationship building occurs outside of the “regular fellowship”, with social get-togethers, 1 on 1 coffee, meals etc.
The IC metrics seem to be around, as a friend was want to say at his leaders’ meetings, “What is the discussion about tonight? Is it the ABC?”, i.e. Attendance, Buildings, Cash-flow! (Some ICs are using facial recognition/computers to track attendance!!) Many ICs are performance driven, numbers/buildings growth being a huge measure of the" success” (of the leader).

Leadership (Touched on in part, in paragraphs above.)

The HC leadership styles vary from group to group, from true servants, to dominating and controlling leaders. Some are in networks or linking, and may even have a hierarchal structure. In the 2 groups I am closely associated with, the leader is more in a facilitator role, and serving. If asked, “who is the leader?”, the response is often, “Whoever is speaking at the moment!”
The IC leadership is generally a dominant model, often a “one man band”, with total control of the meetings, and what attendees can do or not do. That leadership may be moderated by a board, or committee, or elders, depending on the IC’s constitution, culture, and/or tradition.

Growth strategies

 The HC movement looks for growth from the locality, by going out to engage the community. Some may use a prayer walking strategy to facilitate this. Many encourage the building of long term relationships with neighbours with hospitality, or engagement in local activities, and this is seen as missional. Often a local “information” meeting is arranged, and an opportunity is offered, to inform and encourage people to consider HC.
When it comes to church planting, it is relatively easy for a group from the first HC to move to a new locality and start, often with no expense, as all that is required, is in the new house setting. The “plant” may start with only a few people, and in a very simple way.
Personal growth is encouraged, and facilitated, often by a personal discipleship program. Often a “teach a disciple today, let them teach that to someone else tomorrow”, is a growth approach. Also, development comes by encouraging participation (both inside and outside), by asking attendees to bring a word, devotion, tell what God is doing/saying in their lives, present a communion word, or ask questions, with dialogue encouraged to add-to material presented.
The IC looks for growth from the locality, too, but often in the way of inviting people to “come”, to an existing church building. Ministry is seen as specialist (ordained), and often a clergy/laity dichotomy precludes development of personal ministries, or limits what may be done, often the “growth” strategy is to invite non-believers to ‘the church”, for ministry. Growth of persons is often facilitated by a “Bible Study” night, often presented in a monologue, with little interaction, or a topical programed study guide.
A church plant is often a carefully planned, budgeted and implemented strategy. Traditional thinking often requires a suitable building and facilities, musical instruments, a team with the leader, and often 10s’ of thousands of dollars finance for the materials required, and the staff salaries.
_____________________

These are some good comparisons of the pros and cons of house churches vs. institutional churches.

My personal conclusions is that one ought to be wary of anyone who categorically rules out house churches OR institutional churches.

Both are beset with traps, and both have advantages.

The main challenge for both types of churches is for those participating to focus on Kingdom work and stop trying to rule others or gain advantages over others through Fraudulent Authority

22 comments:

David said...

Wade,

As a house church host who formerly served in official roles in an institutional church, Graeme's descriptions are incredibly accurate. Our own experience has been in a house church much like his.

One additional major effect we experienced is that our stress levels have dropped significantly, even though we have more engaged roles in the house church than in the institutional church. If I had to pinpoint why this was the case, I think it had to do with moving away from the performance metrics and programmatic structure into something more simple and relational.

Thanks for bringing this topic up. May we see a growing cooperation between Christ's church - in homes and in institutions!

Wade Burleson said...

David,

Thanks, sir, for your comment - and your Kingdom work! I affirm your desire to see growing cooperation between the two!

Anonymous said...

Interesting! I grew up in an area where most churches I would guess came in somewhere between house church and today's institutional church. Attendance might peak around 40 but usually ran 20-30 even if that church had pretty much reached everyone in a huge geographical area. (A "community" might be sparsely settled desert and prairie roughly 20 miles by 20 miles.)

We did build church houses somewhere hopefully convenient to most. We functioned when we had pastors, when we were on circuits, when we had supply preachers, and when we had none. Of course the pastors could not be called bivo since we didn't pay much of anything and they had a secular full time job.

Our experience is they were far more successful by any metric than today's institutional church where unfortunately size matters more than health at times.

Linda

Wade Burleson said...

"They were far more successful by any metric than today's institutional church where unfortunately size matters more than health at times."

So true, Linda.

Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

So how can we be part of a solution to today's problems? One thought comes to my mind: most of those tiny churches stayed tiny in part because they had a preset ceiling on membership. Hard to believe but a tiny church of 20 might split and help build a new church in another section of that rough country. Now you had two churches of ten, each doing all it could to reach any lost in that area.

Could it be what kept us small made us stronger? Or did we all have to hang together to avoid hanging individually so to speak?

No answers, lots of questions. I do know the Methodists (pre UMC) were pretty independent, skirting some rules. Since ordained clergy was required for Communion when we had no clergy we celebrated The Lord's Supper instead and got away with it. And the Baptists (SBC) figured all authority in the church resided in King Jesus, Who delegated it not to the pastor or preacher but to the church, which then delegated specific duties to the preacher. (And yeah, we had baptisms and The Lord's Supper there too whether we had clergy around or not. Men could "fill the pulpit" meaning preach if no preacher was available. But if the men were unable or unwilling a woman could "bring a brief devotional" of around 20 minutes or so. She could speak, just not pastor a church.)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

When I was 13, at any point in his message the pastor would dismiss our small church if it started raining because the roads were dirt.

Many years later, my cousin (went to another church) had a business of building wooden trusses that reached from wall to wall to hold the roof up. He gave some for the expansion of our church free of charge and volunteered to supervise putting them up. One day, he was working by himself and asked our pastor to help a few minutes.

“I’m sorry, my hands don’t do manual labor.”

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Ouch.

At our church, the word "pastor" is a "verb of service," and not "a noun of status." That pastor would have disqualified himself from a paycheck at Emmanuel.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Yes, “Ouch” is right! I was glad when he told the church he was going to a larger church; “A Christian has to do what God tells him to do.”

When many people of the larger church left , he said, “I’m glad we’re rid of the deadwood.” Before a year passed, the parsonage was sold to pay their bills, and his salary was cut in half which caused God to call him elsewhere.

Got a text today to boycott all money that had pictures of slave owners and to send any to the one that sent the text and they would be disposed of properly. :)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

This is a short story of a young female gone wrong. She ended up steeling for food. She was caught in a trap and the police were called.

My daughter thought about taking her in but decided not to.

I showed her picture at church last night. Someone said: “What’s our church cat doing in your coon trap?” (I didn’t know we had a cat.)

Rex Ray said...

“The Three Stooges” by Rex Ray

One Saturday, about fifty years ago, three of us decided to enter a spear fishing contest’ at a large ‘swamp lake’ in Louisiana about two hundred miles from Fort Worth, Texas. We got our scuba gear, ‘spear guns’, and three tanks of air each. We went in my station wagon pulling a boat I’d made that’d go about 30 miles/hour. The front was covered with plywood and the steering wheel was behind that. We paid our entry fee and spent the night in the station wagon. (Shortest guy got the front seat.)
To identify “Three Stooges”, Rex is Moe, and the others are Larry and Curly. They decided the river dam, 5 miles away, would have the largest fish. Outside the river channel was shallow and trees had rotted off even with the water.
Moe kept the ‘tricky’ motor running and Larry who was steering had left his glasses in the car. Larry hit a tree that knocked a hole in the boat. Moe bailed water as fast as he could, but knew they were in trouble when the gas tank started floating. “Go to the bank!” They thought they saw land, but it turned out to be trees with low limbs. Curly had his mask and scuba tank on. A limb hit his tank and knocked him overboard. He grabbed the side and climbed back in with a wall of water. The boat became a seesaw; when the rear started under, they rushed to the front. When the front started under, they rushed to the rear. They did that until they sunk in ten feet of water.
Why they didn’t cut the motor off and keep it from being ruined before sinking, Moe will never know. They were wearing ‘wet suits’ for the cold water, and once they took their weight belts off, they floated like corks. Curly used his scuba gear to take the motor off and the plywood boat covered with fiberglass floated.
They started yelling, “Yoo-hoo”. It wasn’t long before that changed to “HELP”. After an hour, they saw a fisherman that was too far away to hear them. Moe swam a long way and just as he was going to yell, the guy left. Then another boat came up: “Have you heard someone calling for help?”
It took the ‘Good Samaritan’ three trips to get all they had to the bank that was a mile away. They were close enough to walk to Moe’s car. They came back and loaded everything except part of the steering wheel that broke off when Curly tried to lift the boat with the motor on.
It’s strange at ten o’clock when they started yelling for help was the time Moe was supposed to be teaching his Sunday School class.

Christiane said...

I LOVE this story, REX RAY !

I needed a good laugh and thank you so much for providing. You write so that I can see everything happening like its on film and that kind of writing is a gift. Hope all is as well as can be with your medical trouble and I hope Judy is at peace during the grieving process for her brother, never an easy time.

Life is tough here, but we are going to be fine. We have to do some carpentry to the house as we need to install banisters and railings after my husband's fall. He's 'okay' but we need to make practical changes which I wish we had done sooner. We have a good carpenter and a really good handy man. That is a blessing.

Your stories make my day. Love 'em.

Praying for you all that the weather doesn't get too hot and that it doesn't flood with all the heavy rains. Very worried about the weather conditions in the South for the sake of them what cannot care for themselves well. I hope God leads others to help them in times of crisis.

God Bless. And tell more stories. :)

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Thanks so much. Judy appreciated your thoughts. I’m glad your husband is OK, but it’s scary what might have happened. I believe you have the largest heart of anyone I know.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Surprise – Surprise

In December 1954, I was twenty-two and a senior at North Texas State University at Denton, Texas. I worked 40 hours a week on a graveyard shift for a dollar an hour.
I rented a house, and since our parents taught school in Alaska, my sisters (ages 14 and 16) lived with me. I paid $50 for my only motorcycle – a 1947 Indian Chief. Riding “Chief” exhilarated me.
I had Chief a month before riding it 455 miles to Roswell, New Mexico to see Betty whom I’d dated the previous year. She had graduated and was teaching school. I’d not seen, written, or called her in three months. My sisters told me I should write Betty and to drive my car, but they didn’t realize I wanted an excuse for riding Chief, and how much fun it would be to surprise Betty and give her a ride on Chief.
I got off work at mid-night and worked on Chief till daylight. Since it was cold, and no windshield, I wore long-johns, blue jeans, coveralls, and a leather jacket, but my teeth chattered till I got numb all over.
The trip miles took seventeen hours because some would call Chief a pile of junk. Many things kept coming loose and the chain had a habit of coffee breaks. Or maybe it was because of an amateur mechanic.
Knocking on her uncle’s door at ten o’clock that night, I think I was more surprised than Betty when she introduced me to her boyfriend. I told them Chief broke down ten miles out of town and I had hitchhiked. They got a flashlight for me to see how to fix it. Chief’s light wouldn’t work so I followed them. I didn’t dare ask Betty to ride with me because I got the feeling both wanted me to vanish. There was only one extra bed—I shared it with him. We didn’t talk much.
I spent the next day working on Chief. Even though I told Betty I’d been working and going to school and hadn’t dated anyone, she was angry. “You didn’t write a word and expect me to be waiting for you? You can keep your surprises to yourself!”
I left about sundown, and it was one of those dark nights where you couldn’t see a thing. Once, I didn’t know my headlight stopped working because the approaching car lights were blinding. When they passed, total darkness engulfed me with fear. Needless to say, I stopped in a hurry.
I got the light working, but had to hold it in place. That caused me not to be able to hold the gas grip on the handlebar. I’d set top speed with the gas grip and then grab the light.

Rex Ray said...


I came to a town but couldn’t slow down because the GAS GRIP HAD FALLEN OFF. I was dumb struck. I hit the brake but it did no good against the strong motor. I couldn’t kill the motor because the switch cut the light off. I stepped on the clutch and brake, but the motor almost exploded from the high RPM. When I could see by street lights, I cut the lights and motor and barely got slow enough for a turn.
Thereafter, my left hand controlled the speed with a bailing wire attached to the carburetor, and my right hand directed the light. All went well until four in the morning and 125 miles from home. I’d missed sleep the day I started, and what I got with the boyfriend wasn’t much since I kept wondering what a revolting development it was. Lack of sleep caught up with me. I woke up at full speed going into a ditch facing a railroad track. I thought this is going to be exciting!
WRONG. There’s nothing exciting about being unconscious. The railroad track caved the front wheel into half a wheel. Chief was on top of me, and kept running until it ran out of gas. Two hours later the motor was still hot. The muffler was on my leg and cooked it almost to the bone. I couldn’t be seen in tall grass had, but the LIGHT WAS STILL BURNING. The light may have saved my life because that’s what the wife of a motorist saw and got her husband to go back and investigate. They got a gas station attendant to help remove the heavy monster.
I don’t remember them taking me to a nearby hospital in Breckenridge. I woke up with a doctor telling me I had a close call from shock. I didn’t believe I was burned because destroyed nerves caused no pain, but I was hurting in a lot of other places.
Since we didn’t have a phone, a sheriff informed my sisters. They drove my 1948 Hudson automobile – big enough I could lie in the back seat. The service station said they would keep Chief for me.
My sisters were the only ones to visit me for two months in the college hospital. A doctor said he would charge only $100 to treat me as an experiment since he had never seen such a deep burn. He did a skin graft and changed the dressings every other day. My school grades were better because I had a lot of time to study. Leaving the hospital, I was on crutches a month. That’s when I met Judy at the college Baptist Student Union and we dated that year when I graduated and another year when I was in the Air Force. She blamed me for breaking up and I blame her. (57 years later, we met and I was only on one crutch.)
My parents returned and pressured me to sell Chief. After failing to sell it for $100, I agreed to let my father sell it. He sold it real fast for $10. I never rode a motorcycle again or did any more surprises.

Christiane said...

GREAT STORY !!!!

I was right that you have worn out more than your share of guardian angels over the years.

Your stories always make my day. Thanks, REX RAY, that one pulled out all the stops. It's a classic!

Years ago, I told my youngest son if he ever rode a motorcycle, I'd disinherit him. For good measure, I had my brother tell him horror stories from his ER days as an intern/resident.
So far, either this has worked to discourage (wise up) my son or he has certainly done well in hiding any evidence of ownership of a Harley ...... we have several roads in the area where young people can 'open up' their motorcycles to great speeds and they race each other, with dire results at times.

Was I right to discourage my boy? I think so. One of his good friends in the Coast Guard wiped out on a Harley and is now disabled, and I do think my instincts were on point to steer my boy away from them 'hogs'

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Yes, you were wise in advice to your son. Reminds me of a guy that wanted a welder to fix his motorcycle.

“Yes, I’ll fix it and when I’m through the largest part won’t be over two feet.”

His young son was riding one in town; hit some gravel and his head hit the curb without a helmet. They buried him on his birthday.

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Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

My wife of 55 years was a retired school teacher. She met Jesus seven years ago. Over a year past before I found this story she had written on our computer.

Bear story from a women’s view by Belle Ray
November 11, 2010

Six weeks after I married Rex Ray, I met his parents for the first time in Fairbanks, Alaska. I had agreed to teach school with Rex and his parents in a small fishing village at King Cove, Alaska. I had heard ‘stories’ about his father, Dave, that had me worried about all of us living together in the school house.

Sure enough, the first night with a few hours’ sleep at their house in Fairbanks, Alaska, a chainsaw ripped a four-foot hole through a log wall a few feet from my head at four in the morning. It was Dave making a window.

While in Fairbanks, Rex, Dave, and Rex’s twin brother, Hez, went on a moose hunt. A few days later, Rex came to get his mother, Elizabeth, and me to join them. They had found a cabin we could stay in. It was a two-hour drive on a trail only for jeeps, but they had made it in our car.

Rex had gotten stuck in the mud twice coming to get us, but with the aid of a bumper jack, had made it. He drove faster than I wanted him to, but he claimed if we slowed down, we’d get stuck.

He explained in the daytime there was no problem where the lake started in high grass, but since we would be arriving at night, he had propped up some dead trees where to stop. That really had me worried but not as much as when he started yelling, “Where did the road go?”

We hadn’t seen his trees and the car plowed to a stop in water up to the floorboard. We waded to shore, found the rowboat, and went to the cabin. Hez slept on the floor, and the four of us slept in a large homemade bed. I thought it can’t get any worse than this, but little did I know.


Rex Ray said...


Not having an alarm clock, Dave said he would wake us at the right time before sunrise to go hunting. “Get up! Feet on the floor! Rise and shine!” Elizabeth started cooking some breakfast until someone looked at a watch and said, “We’ve only been asleep two hours!” We went back to bed with Dave saying he thought it was time to get up. No one gave him any sympathy.

When we did get up, Dave said he would work on getting the car out of the lake. Hez and Rex rowed the boat and me across a large lake to where they had made a 20 foot wobbly tree stand to look for moose.

They said Dave had gone to sleep in the stand the night before and a cow moose had stopped under the tree moving her ears back forth listening to Dave snore. I could understand her concerns as only being exhausted can one sleep in the same room with him. Years later while visiting Rex’s parents our young daughter rushed into our room in the middle of the night crying, “There’s a lion in the house!”

I felt much safer where I was than climbing their ladder until Hez started yelling he saw a bear. I almost flew up that ladder where I got a lot of instructions to watch the bear with binoculars and let them know which way he ran. (The bear could run fast on the tundra while all they did was stagger and fall.)

Even though the bear was about a mile away when I heard Rex’s gun fire, I heard the bear’s growl. I was glad he ran away from Rex, but he ran towards Hez and me. The bear stopped in some bushes. They walked almost on top of the bear before he jumped up on his hind legs and faced them. They both shot about the same time and the bear ran toward me again.

They kept repeating the process. After I counted nine shots, I thought that was the toughest bear in the world or they were the world’s worst shooters. I didn’t know they were out of bullets except for one gun, but that would explain why Hez was walking behind Rex.

They were close to the tree stand when I saw Rex shoot the bear and the gun bolt came out of the gun. The bear looked at him for some long seconds. I thought I was going to be a young widow, but he ran again and died before he got to me.

Christiane said...

Wow!

THIS PART is hysterical, LOL:
" . . . After I counted nine shots, I thought that was the toughest bear in the world or they were the world’s worst shooters. I didn’t know they were out of bullets except for one gun, but that would explain why Hez was walking behind Rex."

I'm glad to read that the bear didn't get Belle, but what a story!

Another day made better for me by a great story.
Thanks, old friend. Have a blessed Lord's Day.


(In two weeks, my youngest will be in AK for military duty, with bear spray, bear horns and everything else I can send him, as I have heard that bears break into garages and cars looking for food. Whoah! )

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Hez wanted to go the shortest way to get to the bear but had left his borrowed gun in the boat. He took my army 30-06, but never figured out how to shoot it. I got his .308 which should have had five bullets, but had only three. I went by the edge of the lake and got there first. The bear was about 80 yards away when I shot him. His roar scared me.

I heard Hez yelling, “Did you kill him; did you kill him?”

“No! I just wounded him; he’s out there where you are!”

Bushes were so thick, about 20 feet was as far as you could see. I was afraid to look for the bear, but after a while I went in about 20 yards and saw him in a hole. I thought he was dead. Hez came up and I told him to shoot him to make sure.

“I can’t see his head; all I see is white fur!” (He was a ‘silver tip grizzle’ that made him look white.)

He came out of the hole looking at us. (He was so close, he look like a mountain.) When I shot him point blank, he ran off toward Belle. He didn’t go far and was laying down when I came up. He stood up and I shot point blank. I saw to my horror the gun was empty. He ran off toward Belle again.

Hez came up carrying my gun in one hand and the bolt in the other. “You got any more bullets for this gun?”
“No.”
“We’re trading guns. While I’m getting this bolt back in, take this pistol and find the bear, but don’t shoot him. Wait till I get there with the rifle!”

In a little bit, I heard him yell as he’s shooting, “I’m going to slow him down!”

The bear ran off and Hez waited for me. We had a brother to brother talk.

“I told you not to shoot the bear! I’ll bet you didn’t hit him one time when he was running! The pistol was our ‘safety-back-up-gun’, and now it’s empty!”

Christiane, it wasn’t long after that when Belle saw Hez following me as I shot the bear the fourth time. That tuff bear stood there like I’d spit on him. We were eyeball to eyeball when the bolt came out of my gun. (I’d left a lever in wrong.)

Looking at the bear, I couldn’t get the bolt in. I figured we’re dead if I didn’t get it in, so I looked down and got it in. When I looked up he was gone. Belle wasn’t in much danger as we had left her a pistol and she could shoot better than me.

I’ll bet if bears tangle with your son, they’ll be sorry. :)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

NEWS FLASH!

Yesterday, for the first time in our church, (73 years) a WOMAN helped in serving the Lord’s Supper.

It happened like this. Before the service started, I agreed to help even though I was wearing a house-shoe and using a cane.

Before the preaching starts, we always ‘visit’ with each other about five minutes. During that time I asked my sister to take my place.

She said, “Since I’m the oldest woman church member, I’ll do it.”

No one protested and the service was good.