During last week’s Sunday night gathering a few of us contemplated the need for the large amount of energy expended to get things set up and taken down at First Presbyterian. We were getting tables set, moving chairs (very uncomfortable ones at that) into a circle, hauling tables (which were extremely heavy), and then taking it all down… probably an hour or more work, for a group of 5 to 10. Was there some other way to have the hospitality, the warmth, the fellowship, and the intimacy without the churchy feel?
Then certain advisers said that we really need to get out of the church building.
Seeing how I am definitely not one to say that buildings and church formalities are necessary for a connection with God, the concept of meeting in a home is an appealing one. At least now, as we are small, there may be something very good to this. I am a little reluctant as the leader of the group to have it in my own home. I just finished Neil Cole‘s book, Organic Church, which is all about house churches. His insight is that it is better to have someone else from the group host as it empowers more people. Any opinions on this?
I never thought, back at Bethel Seminary, that I would ever have anything to do with a “house church” or anything like that. I can’t say that this is exactly that as we are supported by the bigger church, and very much committed to being an “emerging church” in Bend, but hopefully Thorsten Moritz would be proud.
I suppose there will be more reflection on this in the future, but I am wondering for those who manage to stumble on this what feedback you might give. My question above also stands: should a gathering be held at a place other than the leader’s home, or does it really matter?
**Also for those who stumble on this and are from Bend, please contact me if you are interested in having a personal conversation or interested in being a part of our gatherings.
One thought on “Motion to house church?”
The house church is something I’ve thought a lot about recently. Most modern churches I’ve been to seem to be missing a huge dynamic of the early Church.
I attend a church plant of around 300 and we have a team of 10-15 guys that show up 2 1/2 hours before church Sunday mornings to set up. I can definitely identify with the burden. We also spend an hour on Sunday nights setting up for our youth ministry of 35-40 students that meets at the YMCA.
The early Church started in the synagogue, but also met in smaller groups in homes. Our church does something similar called Community Groups, which are small groups of 12-14 that meet in homes. These groups are like a church within a church and meet usually on a weeknight. It has been an effective way to plug people in and give them a group to be a part of. At this point, I believe we have nearly 80% of our body involved.
Having small groups outside of church where people have to make the choice to come, and where it’s not just part of the Sunday routine, brings a different dynamic. People feel obligated on Sundays. It brings out the religious types. The Community Group model we use calls people past religion to walking together in faith.
As far as which home you use for meetings, I’ve seen it done both ways. It probably depends on your personality and those in the group as to how well this works or doesn’t work. If someone in the group’s gift is hospitality and yours isn’t, by all means allow them to use that gift. If you get too comfortable in your own home and are more a Martha than a Mary, it may be better for you to use someone else’s home. It also allows people in the group to get to know each other by seeing how each person/couple lives. Rotating between homes may be an option. It just involves more communication as to when you are meeting where. If you are trying to attract new people, rotating makes it hard for them to find you.
Good luck and let me know what you discover along the way!