We often encounter people who are looking for a house church. They learn about it and afterwards want to visit or join one. While this could be a natural reaction, we at Stargrass think it might be barking up the wrong tree. You see church is not a building nor is it an event. As we’ve stated elsewhere on this site, church is a group of two or more disciples or followers of Jesus who gather together to encourage one another, to build each other up and to go and seek to make other disciples for Jesus.
The house or simple church is also an organic church. This means it is one where relationships are allowed to grow naturally in the power of the Holy Spirit. People cannot be forced to gather; they are already in some kind of relationship when the Gospel seed is planted in their midst and the Holy Spirit begins His transformational work among them. While it is not impossible to see organic church happen among a group of people who start out as strangers one can easily see that organic church grows best among people who already have some kind of existing relationship with each other.
Therefore rather than look for a house church where you will probably be meeting complete strangers, why not start one yourself among people you already know – loved ones, friends, co-workers (or co-students) or people in your community or neighborhood? The next question then becomes, how do I start a house or simple church among these people?
Search the net on how to start a house church or simple church and you’ll probably get several sites or blogs detailing how to start one in several steps – or even encouraging you to attend a training on starting a house church. While many of the suggestions you will find may be helpful you sometimes get the impression that, with all the details, trainings and so many other stuff involved, starting a simple church doesn’t sound so simple at all!
It is helpful to return again to our definition of church: that church is a group of disciples of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We noted previously that these are all that are needed in a church, hence the term simple church, a church without the complexities of today’s traditional or institutional church. We also mentioned that it is so simple that ordinary Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit can start, lead and multiply churches – simply by discipling others who will in turn disciple others.
Therefore you start a house or simple church simply by discipling people – people already within your existing circle of friends, loved ones and associates (co-workers, neighbors, co-students). Start by intentionally spending informal times with them, eating with them, going out with them, visiting them at their home, inviting them to your house, helping them. Share the Good News of God’s kingdom with them and help them grow in their relationship with Jesus by praying with them and discussing the Scriptures together. Learn about their lives and share your life with them as well.
Even if it is just two or three persons meeting together that is already a church (Matt. 18:20). If you have that group, embrace your identity as a church. Seek God’s purposes and ask Him how He would like you to express His Kingdom where you are – whether at home, any place in your community, in a café, workplace or school. Love one another, encourage one another, reach out to others. Encourage and help one another to make more disciples in your own circles of influence.
We have seen people who try to start a house church by inviting people who are already believers and who are part of an existing fellowship or traditional church. This often creates many problems. The people – unless they are disillusioned with the institutional church and are looking for alternative expressions of Christian community – will bring a lot of baggage with them that would have to be unlearned. Unlearning under these circumstances takes a lot of time – and pain – and often does not really happen. You are also forcing people who probably do not know each other to become a community rather than starting with natural relationships. It is far better to start with people who are already in some form of relationship with each other. If you do this with non-believers you also open up their sphere of influence (more non-believers) to the Gospel.
If you feel you need more help you can try to connect with others online for mentoring or to get more ideas although many house churches are very much below the radar and there is very little formal organization to get you to people quickly. There are several networks similar to Stargrass that can connect you to people who are house/simple church practitioners. You can try to connect with Stargrass people in your area through this contact page.
Whatever happens we believe that God will bring the right people to you at His own time. Just be patient.