What are House Churches?
House churches aren’t magic. The church is still full of messy people and we constantly mess things up. But the biggest perk of house churches is this: Everyone is known. It’s amazing how we are transformed when others truly know us, love us in our brokenness, and call us to be who we are in Christ. Whether you are dirt poor, never been to church before, or mature and ready to lead, the goal is still the same – to know you and help you know God. The goal is discipleship, not church membership. It’s way more fun that way.
We started our second house church in the fall of 2012 and our third in the spring of 2013. We are currently scheming for several more. We still meet all together once a month for big church. We still do things like outreach, mission trips, and social gatherings. And we aren’t afraid of big dreams, like our coffee shop, Bristol’s First Friday, and wherever God calls us next. But even in our biggest dreams, God reminds us to move slowly and think small. If we cannot love one another and love God, it is all for naught. So we will keep meeting in our living rooms, learning to do just that.
House Churches are missional communities of 8 to 20 people that exist to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
House Churches are called to commit to a rhythm of IN/OUT/UP:
IN – Be the family of God.
- Care for one another as brothers and sisters.
- Carry each other’s burden, celebrate each other’s joys, eat together a lot.
OUT – Be the light of the world.
- Take part in God’s Kingdom come in word and deed.
- Have regular points of relational connection outside the church.
UP – Be redeemed by God.
- Meet weekly around scripture, prayer, and worship.
- Develop rhythms for walking daily in Christ.
We pray that we would be and make disciples of Jesus Christ in Bristol, Bucks County, Philadelphia, and the World.
Why do we love House Churches?
- Spiritual growth happens most effectively in intimate, intentional relationships.
- People are known right away. You only have to come once and people will know your story.
- House Churches force leaders to be models of the faith rather than experts in content.
- House Churches appeal to those skeptical of the institutional church.
- House Churches exist in the neighborhood, forcing us to take our faith with us after Sunday.
- Those in need can be cared for as brothers and sisters, rather than recipients of services.
- House Churches can multiply and reproduce easily, with very little budget or structure.
- There are no pew sitters. It is very difficult to remain passive in a house church.
How are House Churches different than small groups?
1) They are the primary, rather than supplementary expression of the church. As such they are commissioned to carry out all aspects of a church: Worship, prayer, leadership development, fellowship, caring for physical needs, teaching, outreach and evangelism.
2) They are not just for the ultra-committed, but for people on all points in the spectrum of faith. We believe discipleship is not the advanced course, but the one and only course Jesus laid out.
3) Emphasis on life discipleship, rather than programmatic content. House Churches are meant to be holistic incarnational communities where needs are met, forgiveness is practiced, and worship is pursued together.
4) Growth-oriented. House Churches are our vehicle to go out, rather than an add-on program for those already inside.
5) Diverse – House churches have people in different stages of life, so as to be the family of God, rather than an affinity group.
What does this do to corporate worship?
We still believe that corporate worship is an effective means to connect to God, teach people how to walk in Christ, and grow in relational commitment. As such, we continue to have community gatherings once per month. However, on its own, corporate worship is more likely to produce consumers rather than mature Christ-followers. People need to be in smaller, intentional communities. As long as we have weekly corporate worship, people will always make house churches secondary and optional, rather than the primary expression of church.
What are our hopes and dreams for House Churches?
- We pray that in the right time, our house churches would multiply, not just making new meetings, but making disciples.
- We hope that through House Churches, mature Christians would get real opportunities to lead and grow in faith.
- We hope that immature Christians could be given tangible roles, called into mission, and shown, not just told, what abundant life is.
- We hope that those in need could be lifted out of poverty, not through handouts, but by a loving community that supports and encourages them every day.
- We hope that those far from God would be engaged and invited not just to church, but into the gospel life. We pray that many would come to know the transformative love of Christ.