By: Diana González
In the previous post I talked about three advantages of working with house churches (Provide LINK). Now I want to share three recommendations for the practice of the home model of being and doing church. As a Nazarene missionary planting churches in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala with the Genesis ministry in the Mesoamerican Region, these observations are benefitting me a lot, because they have forced me to change some of my traditional methods of ministry.
- Add practicality to our reflections.
Romans 1:16 (NLT) says: “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.” The Word itself has power. Whenever we share it, we can certainly use methods, strategies and even speaking techniques, knowing that everything we do must be of quality. However, we must acknowledge that the result will not depend on how well we speak, but on the work of the Holy Spirit in people, as we see in Peter’s speech: “Peter’s words pierced their hearts” (Acts 2:37 NLT).
Peter’s speech had many elements; one of them was the testimony of what he had seen. Yet, he also invites those who listen to him to pay attention to what they are seeing and hearing (v. 33). This applies to house churches. As said in the previous article, everyone can participate in the reflection of the Word, giving their own opinions or points of view. In early sessions especially, since typically no preaching or Bible studies are done, sharing your own testimony can be a practical way to show what following Jesus looks like. It is not enough just to talk about the love of Jesus and the salvation he offers, because people will wonder, “So what?” Pragmatism is present in the worldview of many. Being practical will give relevance to our message.
- Decrease evangelical jargon.
House churches should constantly have new visitors due to the closeness and familiarity that the environment offers. The new visitors will be people who have probably never heard of Jesus, or who have never visited a church. Can you think of how they will feel listening to a lot of evangelical jargon that many times even Christians themselves don’t understand? We must seek to provide a sense of belonging so that they continue to be part of our meetings. We cannot use special words trying to show “spirituality”; we must use simple and common language, translating the biblical message into the language of the listeners, just as Jesus did when teaching publicly (Mark 3:34). Our goal is to share biblical truths and insight through ideas that people can relate to and understand.
- Avoid condemning topics.
When choosing topics of reflection for the home meetings, we must take into account the condition of our people. By then we have already talked with them and we have an idea of who they are as well as their needs and interests. We also need to think about their backgrounds, for example, addressing current events from a biblical worldview, or practically sharing spiritual disciplines and the foundations of our faith. We must be wise when expressing our ideas, keeping in mind that we are teaching new believers – some of whom are only visiting to see what the church is like. Let us speak wisely and avoid condemning issues.
Note: we are not saying that we should never address issues of sin or holiness. However, we must be discerning as we choose topics for reflection, as some are very delicate for certain listeners. Topics such as gender ideology, racism or political affiliation should not be dealt with in the first sessions. The spiritual growth of the group will set the tone to eventually address complex or “hot-button” issues, always with love and leaving out prejudices. These three recommendations – implemented by capable leaders, guided by the Lord at every step – have proven to strengthen house churches. Let us continue to carry out the work of church planting and maximize opportunities to serve whenever they may arise.