Strategy for a Multiplying House Church Movement
I’ve given some consideration to what I believe is an appropriate framework for believers in a house church setting who are serious about fulfilling the Great Commission. I’m talking about people who are serious about preaching the Gospel to all people, and making disciples, who choose to embrace a church life that is closer in form and hopefully in power to that of the early Christian church. Here then, are some of the key elements I believe are important.
1. Weekly home meetings
In my understanding, every believer should ideally be involved in a number of WEEKLY meetings. Away with this idea of “connect groups”, “life groups” etc that meet fortnightly so as to accommodate people’s “busy schedules”. How can a fortnightly meeting, possibly orientated around something besides discipleship in Christ truly be helpful in producing committed disciples?
They might be helpful in keeping some superficial relationships vaguely alive, providing relational glue to keep people coming to the “main event” of a Sunday “celebration”, but they cannot serve the purpose of producing red-hot disciples of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus who passionately love one another and love God will want to meet MORE often, not less often. People who want a church life with a low level of commitment will always have plenty of options. But we are in a spiritual warfare, with life or death consequences of an eternal nature, and we need all the help we can get. If we are WORKING for the LORD (and many will have to spend part of their time working in a business which earns money), then we will have many needs.
We need an ONGOING REVELATION OF GOD’S LOVE.
We need THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S PLAN for our work.
We need ENCOURAGEMENT to GO FORWARD.
We need at least one CO-WORKER to go out with.
We need THE EMPOWERING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
We need to KEEP HEARING THE FULL GOSPEL MESSAGE, but especially the message of the CROSS.
We need the MINISTRY SKILLS that are needed for the role/s God calls us to.
We need the revelation of the WORD of GOD through anointed Bible teaching.
We need WISDOM from God that may come through WORDS of WISDOM or anointed Bible teaching.
We need people with effective gifts of HEALING and MIRACLES so we don’t get hindered or stopped by sickness and disease.
We need people with DELIVERANCE MINISTRIES to help us understand what DECEPTIONS are holding us back.
To be able to receive these things we need to make time for them and give them a place in our lives.
The love we have for Jesus cannot be correctly measured by the loudness of our music or the “radical” nature of the professions we make while singing to God. The love we have for Jesus can be more accurately measured by our willingness to give up our most precious asset, OUR TIME, in activities that are geared to helping others and building them up in faith.
The Scriptures urge us:
“but exhort one another DAILY, while it is called “TODAY,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. ” (Hebrews 3:13)
If the Scripture says “daily” I don’t think fortnightly fellowship meetings around common interests will cut it. Not for a serious house church movement anyway. Such meetings are more like a “vaccination” against real church life. It is a very watered down weakened version of what we are looking for, which might be enough for people who don’t really want to get down to business with God quite yet.
A Believer’s Meeting Where All Come Prepared
1Co 14:26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
According to this verse, when believers come together everyone has something to give. We have to LET all these things be done. If leaders don’t LET them happen, they won’t happen, and the leaders are in disobedience to God’s Word here.
In discussing the various gifts and ministries that should be operating in the Body of Christ, the Bible speaks in Romans 12:8 of “he who leads” and so there IS a gift of leadership in the Body of Christ. God has always worked through leaders and ministries which don’t want human leadership never go anywhere. A believer’s meeting should therefore have a God-appointed human leader whose goal is to get everyone to bring forth that which the Holy Spirit is giving through them.
In order for this to work, believers should come to meetings prepared. We must walk with God throughout the day, we must seek God’s anointing privately before we can minister something life-giving in the power of the Holy Spirit at a home meeting. God is not in favour of having spiritually lazy people take up time in the meetings with things that don’t edify – things of “flesh”. Jesus said in John 6, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and life” and also, “the flesh profits nothing”. Therefore, people who seek to follow Jesus and be imitators of God should seek God before the meeting so that they have something from the Spirit to give. If they are giving a teaching, it is often a good thing for them to have prepared notes. They should at least have an idea of what they are going to say.
Also, everyone should understand that they should be aiming for high impact ministry in a small time period. If 20 people come together and minister for an average of 6 minutes each, we already have 120 minutes – 2 hours – that will be used in this kind of ministry. And realistically, other things
such as comments by the leader will increase the time that this kind of meeting will take.
Everyone should be part of a believer’s meeting, so that they can receive from the Body of Christ, and also supply something to the Body of Christ.
A Prayer Meeting
We need strong united prayer meetings once a week if we are serious about seeing God’s blessing. There should be a meeting entirely devoted to prayer. We can’t just fit prayer snippets into a believer’s meeting and call that effective united prayer.
Doubtless we will need days and nights of fasting both individually and corporately in order to effectively bring down satanic strongholds.
An Evangelistic Meeting or House Church Plant Meeting
Everyone who desires to be a leader whose life is conforming to the qualifications for eldership can have a platform to do so. In addition to being part of a believer’s meeting, most everyone should be involved in helping plant a new home church meeting. The “planter” or “evangelist” becomes the leader of this new meeting, which should evolve into a a new “believer’s meeting” over time. It might begin as a Bible study in the house of a new believer or enquirer, and evolve from there. Obviously, the evangelist/planter will need the support of the “mother group” and possibly the leader of that mother group will assist the new leader in getting the group started, as required.
This is really an exercise in church planting, and requires a commitment to evangelism as the Spirit of God leads. And the Spirit of God IS leading us to preach the gospel and make disciples if we have repented of our sins, what is not always certain is whether we are hearing God.
The evangelist should prepare himself for this ministry with MUCH PRAYER and be ready to cast out demons, heal the sick and lead people to Christ in Jesus’ name.
From the initial evangelism phase the meeting will develop into a meeting for encouragement and consolidation of the new believers. As these new believers are baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit and taught how to hear God’s voice, the group will become like a believer’s meeting, as described above.
Advantages over the Present System
The present system which operates in many churches doesn’t demand or require that people know the LORD personally. You can go through the motions of traditional church without actually needing God. Which parts of our church services could non-Christian actors not imitate?
It needs to be stated nowadays that the purpose of church is NOT TO HAVE A BUDGET, but to have people who become the BRIDE of CHRIST – people fitted to have fellowship with ALMIGHTY GOD forever. This cannot be achieved by any system which demands little from its members.
In what I am proposing here, everyone NEEDS the Spirit of God. Everyone needs courage. Everyone needs to change. Not everyone will want to aim for the target, but if we have strong love for one another, its more likely that people will stick around and eventually embrace these values. Its clear that many along the way will not. It can’t be avoided, but at least there should be a place where more than 5% of the congregation can develop and grow in ministry giftings. Otherwise, how will it ever be possible to prepare a sizeable number of people for the Lord? If Jesus died for all of us, then surely He deserves more than a tiny handful of devoted followers at the end of the age.