By: Daniel Santiago and Andrea López
As Genesis missionaries in the Church of the Nazarene, when we talk about starting a missionary work, we automatically think of starting in a house, a park, or even under a tree. But how do you make that happen? When most people and even Christians hear the term “church”, usually referring to the structure of a place, we hear questions such as: where is the church located? Or where are we going to meet?
When we begin to teach that the Church is us and not the structure, the mentality of people is transformed. Little by little they learn that a church can meet in the living room, in a cafe, in the park, at school and even in the supermarket.
As we begin work in house churches, we must keep God’s vision in mind. We know that He does not want anyone to be lost, but for everyone to come to repentance, so we must love people as Jesus loved them, not condemning, accusing or belittling. He related to each of them no matter what kind of people they were.
Here are seven recommendations we can offer for any leader who decides to plant a house church:
- Pray. Jesus spent time praying, and we show love when we pray for those who don’t know about Christ. By being filled with Him, we can give to other people what we receive. We must understand that the Church belongs to Christ, and He is the one who directs it.
- Find a person of peace. We deal with and interact with people on a daily basis. Make a list of 10 or 20 people and begin to treat them objectively, praying and supporting them. Of those people, God will direct you to a person of peace: an individual or family who will open their home to share the gospel there.
- Share your testimony. When you are able to trust the people, let them know your story in three sections:
a) What was your life like before you met Christ?
b) How did you become a Christian or what was your encounter with Jesus like?
c) How is your life now?
- Move from your story to that of Jesus Christ. When God signals the time and the person is open to talk about sharing their home, tell them the story of Jesus; that moment will be key.
- Share with simplicity. When you start house churches, do so in an organized manner. Don’t jump to starting with heavy items (solid food). Remember that the Bible is new for many. You can start with simple or light themes (liquid food) such as parables that talk about sin or salvation.
- Take advantage of available resources. After a few meetings, and after seeing the growth in your people, start offering more solid food. The Church of the Nazarene has a lot of material, yet our leaders are often unaware of it. Some that we have used in our ministry effectively are: Basic Bible Studies, the School of Leadership, The Nazarene Essentials, etc.
- Plan your departure. Start looking for potential leaders and train them. That will undoubtedly require a long-term investment, but there is nothing more rewarding. Remember that reproduction is cyclical and there are still many fields “ripe for harvest.”
Something very interesting about house churches is the unity that is created among the members. Love for one another tends to grow. It does not mean that in a large congregation this type of affection does not exist. However, by nature, congregating in houses allows us to get to know each other and get closer to our neighbors. In fact, it will be easier for them to approach your house than a church building, and it will be easier for them to believe what you say, not only because you speak it but because of how you behave in your daily life.
If we begin to prioritize house churches during this pandemic, automatically each family in our church buildings would already have a new family to teach, train and send. We would multiply very fast! We cannot meet in large groups due to COVID-19, but one more friend or neighbor can always be received in a home. Let’s open our houses, open our vision and multiply one hundredfold.