A house church or home church is a label used to describe a group of Christians who regularly gather for worship in private homes. The group may be part of a larger Christian body, such as a parish, but some have been independent groups that see the house church as the primary form of Christian community.
Sometimes these groups meet because the membership is small, and a home is the most appropriate place to assemble, as in the beginning phase of the British New Church Movement. Sometimes this meeting style is advantageous because the group is a member of a Christian congregation which is otherwise banned from meeting as is the case in China.
Some recent Christian writers have supported the view that the Christian Church should meet in houses, and have based the operation of their communities around multiple small home meetings. Other Christian groups choose to meet in houses when they are in the early phases of church growth because a house is the most affordable option for the small group to meet until the number of people attending the group is sufficient to warrant moving to a commercial location such as a church building. House church organizations claim that this approach is preferable to public meetings in dedicated buildings because it is a more effective way of building community and personal relationships, and it helps the group to engage in outreach more naturally. Some believe small churches were a deliberate apostolic pattern in the first century, and they were intended by Christ.
New Testament precedence
Christians who meet together in homes have often done so because of a desire to return to early Church style meetings as found in the New Testament. The New Testament shows that the Early Christian church exhibited a richness of fellowship and interactive practice that is typically not the case in conventional denominations. They believe that Christians walked closely with each other and shared their lives in Christ together. Others believe that the early church met in houses due to persecution, and home meetings were the most viable option to the early adopters of Christianity.
Several passages in the Bible specifically mention churches meeting in houses. “The churches of Asia greet you, especially Aquila and Prisca greet you much in the Lord, along with the church that is in their house.” I Cor 16:19. The church meeting in the house of Priscilla and Aquila is again mentioned in Romans 16:3, 5. The church that meets in the house of Nymphas is also cited in the Bible: “Greet the brethren in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in her house.” Col 4:15.
For the first 300 years of Early Christianity, people met in homes until Constantine legalized Christianity, and the assembly moved out of houses into larger buildings creating the current style church seen today.
The origins of the modern house church movement in North America and the UK are varied.
Some have viewed as a development and logical extension of the ‘Brethren’ or Plymouth Brethren movement both in doctrine and practice where many individuals and assemblies have adopted new approaches to worship and governance, while others recognize a relationship to the Anabaptists, Free Christians, Quakers, Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites, Moravians, Methodists, and the much earlier conventicles movement, Waldenses and Priscillianists. Another perspective sees the house church movement as a re-emergence of the move of the Holy Spirit during the Jesus Movement of the 1970s in the USA or the worldwide Charismatic Renewal of the late 1960s and 1970s. Others believe the House Church movement was pioneered by people like the Revd Ernest Southcott in the 1950s, when he was vicar of St Wilfred’s Church in Halton, Leeds in England. Southcott believed that if people would not come to church, the church must go to the people, and his book The parish comes alive spread these ideas widely among Anglicans.
During a struggling economy, churches can face formidable financial challenges forcing them to make cuts in funding to missions and benevolence programs. A traditional church that is required to support the typical church infrastructure including a building or campus can face financial pressures if it faces a significant drop in membership. Limited financial resources can encourage church leaders to rethink the pattern of ministry and look for ways to forward the outreach of the church with unpaid members. House churches are already in a more favourable financial position due to the limited expenditures required to facilitate the functionality of the church.
House churches require less money to start up and operate which frees up funds for other ministries. There are no sanctuaries to buy and maintain, and frequently there are no pastoral salaries to sustain. “The constant pressure to fill the pews and provide the money to keep the building and programs going is draining to the traditional church. To some of us, churches have become like big monsters that eat up everything we can give them and then constantly ask for more and more.”
It should also be noted that the church is mandated to regularly assemble, and it needs a suitable facility for the congregation to meet. While it is desirable to many to meet in free facilities such as private homes, the Bible makes no such mandate in this regard. Scripture is silent as to if the early, New Testament church met exclusively at locations that incurred no cost to the church. “Disciples may meet in free facilities; they may rent a place of assembly; they may purchase a building in which to worship. Depending upon the circumstances, any of these options could be viable
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“Sharing the love of Jesus”
Eric Michel Ministries International Home Church Fellowship
We need volunteers to start a home church
The right house for the church must be based in an area without any established churches nearby or where nearby churches are bigger and less intimate. The area that would be easy for potential members to reach.
You will need to choose four main leaders, individuals to serve as leaders. Leaders can be family members, members of your existing church, or in your community. Leaders will have different roles.
- You will start off with studying bible doctrine at home
- You will seek sponsorship from the community.
You will think about the people you want to reach. As you start to gather members. Draw in people with similar beliefs from your religious community. At first, many people may come and go from your home church out of curiosity. Learn to figure out which people fit in with your church’s goals and values and reach out to them specifically to grow your congregation.
You will choose sincere believers who have a genuine need for a home church. Many people like the idea of a home church because it seems fun and trendy. Make sure your members want to be part of a home church because you’re providing them a specific spiritual experience.
You will start with a small group. A home church does not need to start off with a huge congregation. In fact, most home churches start with only a few loyal members. Try starting out with a casual gathering of friends and family members who share your basic religious beliefs. From there, let the church grow organically as word spreads.
You will meet at least once a week. Regular meetings are key to keep a home church going strong. Find a weekly meeting time that works for everyone. The advantage of a home church is that you do not have to meet on traditional worship days, especially if some members are unavailable on those days. If the time works for everyone, there is no reason a home church cannot meet on, say, a Tuesday night. In the early days of your church, you may have to play around with time a little before finding the right time for services.
Read and discuss the Bible. You must read a section of the Bible each week. Afterward, have a brief discussion about what the piece means and how to incorporate its lessons into your life. Part of the appeal of a home church is the increased intimacy. Therefore, allow everyone to participate equally in the discussion. It can be helpful to have someone particularly knowledgeable of your religion’s doctrine lead the lecture.
Pray for one another. To foster a sense of community, reserve part of your services for praying for one another. The method you choose to do this is up to you and your congregation. You can also say a general prayer for those around you that are in need. You can, for example, close with an invitation for people to pray silently for those in need in their lives.
Remember in a home church, strong personalities can take over and guide the church in unwanted directions. We will help your congregation stay grounded in our rules and support.
Jobs descriptions are listed here: https://ericmichel.blog/volunteer/
We ordain our own ministers if you qualify we will be happy to count you in our ranks. Note if not qualify we can do it also via our Seminary and Bible Academy.
For more on Home Church contact us
Eric Michel Ministries International
PS: It doesn’t mean it has to be in your own home…
What we are doing here is that we alternate among the congregation, changing place each Sunday.