What Is House Church?
House church is a community that is made up of 6-12 people led by a lay shepherd that meets at least once a week at members’ homes in order to fulfill the mission Christ has given to His church. This house church exists in conjunction with the larger gathering of believers for the purpose of receiving God’s Word from pastors, experiencing God’s majesty through corporate worship, providing Christian education for adults and children and fulfilling God’s mission for the world through combined resources.
Christ’s church is made up of both house churches and the larger gathering of believers. There are unique and distinct roles that house churches and the larger gathering of believers fulfill in the body of Christ. One without the other is not a complete picture of God’s church.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer?.Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2: 42, 46-47)
The New Testament Church members frequently gathered together at two different places: the temple courts for larger gatherings and their homes for smaller gatherings! That’s why church must grow both smaller and larger at the same time. We grow smaller through our house churches to experience intimacy with God and with one another. But we grow larger through New Life Fellowship to experience God’s power and majesty as we worship Him corporately. Both are important for our spiritual growth, and this is by God’s design.
Then, how do we grow smaller through our house churches? We grow smaller through our house churches as we continually multiply. For example, some of our house churches that have 12 to 14 consistent members sense that they are getting too big and losing intimacy with God and with one another. It is because when we have 12 people in our house church we will experience more than 100 communication channels and this becomes very overwhelming for us. Therefore, in order to avoid or cope with this complex network of relationship, we either become non-committal to our house church meetings or neglect to pay attention to some of the members of our house church.
If your house church is in this situation, you must multiply in order to stay fresh and experience the intimacy once again. But how do we come to this point of multiplication? We come to this point not by inviting people from different churches in Houston to attend our house church or asking others from different house churches in New Life to join us. Instead, we come to a point of multiplication by reaching out to our unbelieving friends and family members. In other words, relational evangelism and constant multiplication will keep our house churches small, healthy and fresh at all time.
Then, what must we do to reach out to our unbelieving friends and family members? We must first be able to attract them to our midst. That’s what Jesus did. He first went to people and then drew them to himself. And one of the things he did to draw and attract people to his message of the Gospel was to love and care for their needs. He knew that self-sacrificial ministry and service opens people’s hearts towards the messenger of God’s Good News!
That’s why we don’t do in-depth Bible study or study based discipleship during our house church meetings. The need for that should naturally be felt through the life sharing done at house churches. Then, some Bible study and discipleship is highly encouraged to take place within house church context while the main supply of core Bible studies will be provided by the larger gathering of believers, New Life, for all the house churches. But all this takes place outside of the weekly house church meeting time which is reserved mainly for sharing our life’s joys and trials in an atmosphere unbelieving friends can be invited in. In other words, the focus of our house church is evangelism through sharing of our lives and serving one another!
Just as the larger gathering of believers is foundational in providing corporate worship, teaching of God’s Word, Christian education and focused missions, our house churches play the key role in bringing the lost to Christ and helping us to experience the intimacy and fellowship with one another. It is when these two function well in their respective roles, the church will thrive and fulfill God’s mission for the world.
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