By: Diana González
I recently had the privilege of participating in a training on Church Planting at Home, what I learned is very appropriate for these times, since I serve as a Nazarene missionary in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala with the Genesis ministry. There are some important advantages that the home model presents, compared to the traditional model of meeting in a church building, such as the following:
- House churches allow for organic, practical theology.
In a house church the preaching is not the same as it usually is in the church. Although there is a preacher who shares the Word, the audience has total freedom to express its opinions and ask or add according to their own perspectives. This openness to participate in the building blocks of teaching helps theology to develop organically by contextualizing or cultivating the Word according to their own experiences. This undoubtedly leads to a greater understanding of the Bible, because people can identify with a truth that is relevant to their condition and situation.
Having such a practical theology does not mean chaotic freedom of thought and doctrine; we are talking about allowing attendees to develop their own theology on various topics of daily life. The focus is on knowing a biblical truth and allowing it to become practical in one’s life, applicable according to the needs we have, as Jesus said in John 6:63 (NLT): “And the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” In this context, the Greek term for “word” is rhema. This not only refers to the Word of God in its entirety, but to a specific portion, which allows us to know God as He is and how we need him for each aspect of our life. The opportunity that house churches offer is not only informative, but also experiential.
- House churches open up deeper interpersonal relationships.
We know that interpersonal relationships are the foundation of church planting. It is necessary to dedicate weeks or months to listen, to know the needs of the people, and to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know how to lead the conversations towards Jesus. In a house church, this relationship is facilitated by the environment, the place, and the number of people. With fewer than 20 people, more attention is personally paid to all, and this strengthens the church.
Although in a traditional church good relationships and constant communion exist, we know that the larger a congregation is, the fewer opportunities to dedicate to each individual (or to notice the absence of someone) there will be. Even pastoral care becomes more extensive and less frequent. This distance decreases dramatically in a house church. The entire service is carried out in a familiar, homey, trustworthy environment in which formality is non-existent due to the availability of space and resources. By this I do not mean that it is a disorganized service, but it will be quite normal to find that there are not enough chairs and someone must sit on the floor or on the stairs, for example. Plus, a small group allows food to be shared after the service, and boy does food bring people together!
- House churches involve everyone.
“House churches provide the opportunity to dissolve the separation between the clergy and laity” (Ramón Mendoza, director of DCPI for Latin America). Even though we are a church with a very organized system and an established leadership structure for different ministries, house churches provide the opportunity for all attendees to participate. In a house church, it is pretty hard for someone to be forgotten: everyone is involved, whether it be in praise, reading, or sharing their points of view, etc.
Moreover, in house churches everyone is a leader because everyone is serving others. Of course, any church will always need a pastoral leader who gives direction to the congregation, and leaders responsible for certain areas, but the door that the house church opens is that everyone is taken into account to develop their gifts and talents, using them for the growth of church.
In the next post I will share a series of practical recommendations on how to share from the Bible when starting a house church.