Reflections on starting a house church #1

A group in my neighborhood is starting a house church together. We met this past week to set a date for our start (3/29) and plan.

We are thinking we will start at 6PM with dinner – most times it will be potluck but for our first meeting we are doing chili and cornbread. We figure some people won’t be able to join in and will show up after or during dinner (we think 45 minutes for dinner). We are doing food that will be “lightweight and low maintenance” – so paper plates, water/ice team, etc.

At 6:45-7 we thought we’d do an introduction to our house church and icebreaker (maybe, depending on how well people mixed at dinner). If we do the icebreaker I’d want it to be something that is low-key so folks are relaxed and get to know one another. In the introduction we’d let folks know where the bathrooms are, what we are doing with the kids and the three things we are about (discipleship, mission and community).

We talked about music and decided that music may be something we’d grow into but we wouldn’t start with it. Our group doesn’t seem like a lot of natural “singers” (other than Jeff and I).
Then from 7-7:40 we’d focus on the Bible and hearing God speak into our lives with use of a video. I am thinking the short Nooma films that meets people where they are at and enables everyone to share their thoughts. We want to stay away from the “pastor being an expert” kind of thing.

I think as we get to know each other more and become more comfortable with doing church differently than we have, we will transition out of the Nooma and spend more time in conversation – I’d also like more time for people to share so I will be interested to see how this moves forward.

For the last 20 minutes the kids (who left to another room) would return and we would have a time for prayer where we lift up prayer requests (someone would be our scribe and would send the prayer requests out). We’d also invite people to feel free to share in our next gathering how they are hearing from God in their lives. I see this as a growing piece of our house church time. I’d like to do a short communion here too.

I’d also like to send out short (twitter type) reflections on what we learned and shared during the week along with the main text for the week and have folks reply how they are living it out/how it is shaping their week. Maybe we could do a group text over the course of the week so every 2-3 days they’d get a way to remember and think through things a bit more.
Then we’d share about the upcoming mission project, talk about our next meeting, etc.

So, we’d like to be done by 8-8:15 and anyone who wants to stay and sit by the fire pit is welcome to till 10 PM.

I don’t think we will meet weekly but 2-3 times a month for worship/discipleship, once a month for a mission project and once a month for a party where we just hang out together. As we are starting 3/29 for our first meeting, we’d invite people to church on Easter (which is also spring break), and then look at a mission project that next week.

I feel excited about all this. As I stand with one foot in a traditional (meaning a group of people who meet in a church building and worship on Sunday) church and one foot in the house church I have to keep reminding myself it is OK to try things and be open to it working (or not) and that the house church does not have a “honey I shrunk the church” energy.

So, still very much in process and listening to God’s guiding. Things are new and different and very much in learning mode. In addition to this house church a second one is getting ready to launch in Tustin. All this is very exciting, challenging and I am enjoying every minute of it.