All you wanted to know but were afraid to ask
You can load down it here: Starting a house church
- Choose three or four people (or couples) to be the elders.
They should be mature enough to be elders of a small church.
One should be prophetic, one should be an evangelist, the rest should have shepherding gifts.
They should also have the potential to work together.
2. Submit to each other. That means:
Praying for each other
Agreeing to accept correction from the others in the group
Testing major decisions with the rest of the group.
Committing to sorting out issues honestly.
3. Commit to supporting each other
Support should be spiritual, emotion and material.
Part of this would be sharing of material goods.
4. Start praying together and seeking Gods will.
The foundation must be prayer.
5. Find out the neighbourhood, where God wants the church to start.
This is the most crucial decision.
It should be in part of the city where there is no established church, so it is not a threat to them.
It may the house of a person who has just become a Christian and has contacts with his neighbours.
It may be where one of the people is already living and has contacts in the neighbourhood.
Ideally, the other members should move to within walking distance of that neighbourhood.
6. Determine the focus of the church.
There may be a couple of things.
The focus will be partly determined by the interests or burdens of the of the eldership group.
For example, pressing through to victory in healing, supporting missions, supporting Christians in politics, caring for the poor or the Kingdom of God.
The church will need to be focussed or its energies may be diffused.
It will need an outward focus so that it does not come a “bless me” club.
7. Agree on the rules under which the church will function.
This will set boundaries on the way the church will function.
Getting agreement on these boundaries will be very important and set the direction of the church.
8. Start meeting together regularly for worship and fellowship.
Meetings would be once or twice or week.
One of the meetings may be on Sunday, but if that is a problem, meetings could be on weekdays.
The aim would be a meeting led by the Spirit and learn to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The meetings will focus on praying for people in the neighbourhood.
9. Minister to the people of the neighbourhood.
Find someone who is in financial difficulties and bless them materially.
Find someone who is sick, and pray for their healing.
The key is to find a way to crack open the neighbourhood.
10. Let the Holy Spirit go to work.
Wait and see what he will do.
If he does nothing, get on a different bus.
11. Disciple the people who join the church
One of the elders would be assigned responsibility for each one.
The elders would build relationships between the members.
They should be built into a caring sharing community.
12. Eventually, the church should be able to send some of the elders out to start a new church.
Within a year the church should have twenty or so members.
If this has not happened, the leaders really need to pray seriously about what is wrong.
Within a couple of years some of the members should be ready to be elders.
They would be anointed as elders in place of the original ones.
The original elders would be sent out to start a new church.
This is an example of the type of guidelines that a church may adopt.
- Publicity should be avoided. It is best to remain in obscurity as long as possible.
Attention will attract the wrong people and cause distractions.
People should not be told that a new church is being started.
If asked about what they are doing, they should just reply that they are just a group of Christians who are seeking a deeper life together (or as a commando unit).
2. The group should be hard to join and easy to leave.
There will be Christians from all over the city who want to join, but they will just be a nuisance and a distraction. They should not be allowed to join.
People should not be held within the church by coercive power. They should be free to leave at any time, if they no longer want to belong. The only restraint on members of the church should be the bond of love.
3. People should generally only be allowed to join the church if they are new Christians.
The primary focus of the church should be on growth through evangelism.
The church must not grow by drawing in Christians who are frustrated in their existing church.
Only hard out Christians are required.
4. Christians would only be allowed to join if they live within walking distance of the meeting place.
This is really important for avoiding conflict with pastors of existing churches.
Many Christians will come and say that this is what the Holy Spirit has been speaking to them about for years. Offer to help them start something themselves, but understand that they will be a distraction if they are allowed to join.
5. A few Christians would be allowed to join, if they need to be discipled into the ministry of one of the elders.
This would be limited to one (or at most two) per elder.
Each of the elders needs to be replicating their ministry in another person.
6. All those who join the church must submit to the elders. That involves:
Accepting their correction.
Accepting their guidance.
Being willing to learn.
Being willing to go hard out for God.
7. The church would not try to organise a celebration
Members should go elsewhere for celebrations.
If you think the following guidelines are too complicated, do not worry. You can ignore most of them and not come to grief.