The following are frequently asked questions about house churches:
Q. Why house churches?
A. We plant house churches for the following reasons:
- Our goal is not just to start a church. Our goal is to start a church planting movement. We believe this can best be done by focusing on the simplest and most reproducible form of church planting. The house church meets that need.
- We believe the house church concept is the best way to train pastors and leaders.
- The simplicity of small congregations makes it easy to multiply congregations.
- God is calling His people to break with traditionalism and professionalism and get back to simplicity.
- In most countries today it is the only way to get a church planting movement going. We cannot possibly do SATURATION CHURCH PLANTING if we are thinking in terms of traditional church.
Q. Isn’t the house church the same as the cell group?
A. No, the cell group concept is the wheel approach and the house church is the vine approach. A cell group is seen as a part of the outreach of another church whereas a house church is a church in itself and functions as a church.
Q. How can you develop a full church program in a house church?
A. We believe that if we focus on the things mentioned in chapter six (WHAT DO YOU DO IN A HOUSE CHURCH?), the Lord will enable us to meet the needs of all the individuals and families who attend. The Holy Spirit is able to make us creative in our approach to meeting needs. House churches will not be attractive to everyone. Some will need to attend churches with the ability to present more diverse programs. We are not in competition with other churches. We are working together with them to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Q. What about children? Will they have special classes?
A. Some house churches will have children’s meetings separate from youth and adults. Some will have all ages meeting together. It is surprising how much little children learn just being with youth and adults in the regular service.
Q. How often do house churches meet?
A. Once or twice a week is common, but that is up to the leaders of each house church. There is nothing in the Bible that says how often we should meet.
Q. Do you always meet in the same house?
A. It is not always wise to meet in the same house for the following reasons:
- We need to spread around the blessing of hosting a house church.
- By moving the meeting place from time to time we are able to reach out into different neighborhoods.
- We are held together by the bonds of relationship and not by the meeting place. Therefore it is safe to move about.
- We avoid the problem of neighbors complaining about holding religious services in their neighborhood.
Q. Will not the house church idea open it up for anyone and everyone to start his own church?
A. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 10:15, “How shall they preach except they be sent?” Only those who have been sent will have spiritual authority to plant churches. Even Paul did not venture to go and plant churches until he had been sent by the Holy Spirit and by the leadership of his church. (Read Acts 13:1-4.)
Q. Where will you get pastors to lead these congregations?
A. The true qualifications for elders (pastors) are found in two places in the New Testament; Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. God has provided plenty of humble, teachable, godly men and women right in our churches who are capable of leading house churches. We do not need to send them off to be trained in Bible schools or seminaries. The apprentice method is the best method under heaven for training pastors and leaders. There never was a better method and there never will be!
Q. How can a small house church be expected to give birth to another house church?
A. When I was still a teenager, my pastor gave me the task of starting Home Bible Classes among the elderly who did not attend Sunday School. I was not given any helpers or members to start with. I was only given a few names and addresses of people who might be interested in home Bible study.
During the next several months I had the joy of establishing Bible classes in many homes. My task was not only to teach the Word of God to the elderly but to learn how to start house groups.
This is a part of the training of an elder. He is given a territory and the task of starting a new house church. In most cases he will be given at least one or two couples to help him get started. Ideally, one of the couples will be pastors-in- training so that from the very beginning of a new church there is vision for church planting.
A very small house church can send out two or three couples each year to give birth to a new church.
Q. How do you start a house church?
A. In Acts chapter 13 it was the Holy Spirit Who sent Paul and Barnabas out to start churches. But He did it by revealing to the leaders of the church in Antioch that He had called them to do this.
In Acts 15:24 some people got into trouble who “went” without being “sent.” Assuming that you have been sent out by responsible spiritual authority, get two or three people who are not already involved in a church to agree to meet with you regularly to worship Jesus and to walk in His ways together and you have planted a new church.
When Paul and his teams went out, they first proclaimed the good news and then they gathered the disciples together. The gathering of the disciples together is church.
Q. Are you suggesting that everyone leave the traditional church and become a member of a house church?
A. It is not our purpose to tear down anything that God is building. We are committed to bless and to assist all the churches in every city, large or small, denominational, non-denominational, or inter-denominational.
We do not compete with other churches. We are simply presenting a valid expression of church that is based on the Word of God and that has proven effective both in the primitive church and in modern times.
We do not say that God is calling all His people in all places to be doing the exact same thing. The Church of Jesus Christ is amazingly fluid and versatile in its many expressions when it is not bound by rigid and inflexible rules.
Q. Do house churches have to belong to a denomination?
A. Every house church in any city belongs to the church, the body of Christ, in that city, first and foremost. A house church may belong to a denomination. However, its ties to the denomination should not interfere with its commitment and relationship to the body of Christ within that locality.
The greatest challenge to any church is maintaining unity within the larger body of Christ in the city where you live and serve (see chapter 7).
There are many other questions one might ask about house churches, but the most important one is, “Lord, what do you want me to do to help fulfill the Great Commission? Should I be involved in multiplying house churches in my own country and throughout the world?”
There are many ways to plant new churches and thus extend the kingdom of God in the earth. We will accept and not criticize the various ways that God’s people are seeking to plant churches.
It is my purpose to sound the trumpet to start house churches.
We say to you, COME AND HELP US! We are excited about multiplying churches in every country and people group so “that repentance and remission of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).
It is my firm belief that by now, there will be a house church movement in full swing in every country on earth. I believe it is the only way we will see the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
It is already beginning to happen. God is speaking HOUSE CHURCH to people everywhere. The ground work has been laid over the past 25 years through the worldwide acceptance of the cell group movement.
Some of us are old enough to remember when it was highly questionable to start a house group of any kind, or anything else outside the church buildings themselves. There used to be such fear that it would draw people away from the “church.” Now, these groups are seen as very desirable as a means of church growth.
God is calling us to take a further step and recognize that we can actually have a church, in the fullest sense of the word, in a house.
Some of the largest congregations in the world today had their beginning in a house. When did it become a church? Was it a church when it had ten people and met in a house? Or was it a church only when it had a thousand people? Was it a church only when it met in a specially designed building called a “church?”
The answer is obvious. It was a church when it began in the house. If it had continued to meet in a house, it would have continued to be a church.
God is stirring and shaking our present church structures and bringing us back to basics. Much of what we now have come to think of as essential is not really essential at all.
When we look at the simplicity of the New Testament Church and compare it with the institutionalized church of our day we see little, if any, resemblance.
The Church in some countries looks more like a corporation. Some denominations are huge networks that, in many cases, are ruled over politically, rather than through God-ordained spiritual authority. This has caused immeasurable grief and division for hundreds of years.
May God give us the insight, humility and grace to admit how far we have strayed from the simplicity and the purity of the New Testament Church. Then let us return to it in brokenness and repentance.