Being involved in house church has been a very new experience for me this year. Personally, while I really appreciate a lot of the strengths of my sending churches back home (I moved to NYC to do full-time ministry), it’s been an awesome season of being fully invested in this small, more intimate church community.
In the Bronx, the house church I am a part of has 12 adults and 3 children. Our weekly meetings usually run about 3 hours long, including fellowship, prayer and learning from the Word. My church has also chosen to have a weekly potluck meal for the first hour, and we all enjoy delicious food while catching up on everyone’s lives! It’s awesome, and not just because I often get sent home with leftovers…
Each week, we rotate who is facilitating the gathering. This person usually shares something they have recently been reading in the Word and opens up the floor for praises and prayer requests. We spend time sharing things that the Lord has placed on our hearts, as well as processing life, ministry, and praying together as a larger church community. These times of “opening up” have really made this group of people seem like family and I’m so grateful God has provided me with such an awesome group of people to do life and church with!
Another strong value of my house church is the “priesthood of all believers.” This means that anyone who wants to take a turn doing the teaching from the Word is welcome, regardless of whether they have a seminary degree or not. Our church is going through 1 Peter this year, focusing on different aspects of Christian community, and every week we listen to someone share from the Bible. We often have group discussions afterwards, getting to hear what parts of the passage “stood out” to people as well as sharing applications and other encouragements with the group.
Overall, it is so sweet to be known well by my church and to be able to say that our entire church is participating and sharing life together during our weekly gatherings. We also strive to see each other outside of this 3-hour block of time, having game nights or planning more casual times together. We are truly meant to be in community as followers of Christ, and for us that means gathering more than just once a week! A really practical application of house church is the large probability that this will reflect the dynamics of church many of the people on my ministry team will experience as we transition to ministry overseas. Also, this model of church can adapt to the values and culture of the members that gather together, which is really cool.
Our God is so big and can be worshipped in so many different ways! It is beautiful to be a part of a house church community that is so like-minded in knowing Christ and making Him known.