If you don't want to read any further, here is a summary:
- Pass all your decisions through the test of "Will this decision maximize or diminish the best that the House Church model offers?"
- Endeavour to reduce passive reception of material, instead encourage participation
- Encourage flexibility and adaptability
- In terms of the house church format and style think "trellis" not "box"
- Design meaningful points of connection to the mother church
House Church - a gathering of Christ followers held in the home rather than in a church building. A house church has its own leader (or a leader team). The leader is not necessarily the owner of the home where the church meets. The house churches created due to the CoVid-19 restrictions belong to a mother church and likely a cluster of other house churches.
Mother Church - the church to which the cluster of house churches belongs. The primary role of a healthy mother church is to disciple and equip the leadership of the house church. The mother church also serves as the connector between all her house churches.
The Strengths of a House Church
Communication pieces from the mother church can be communicated by the house church leaders, no need for staff-produced videos or printed handouts.
To reiterate - disciple your house church leaders experientially, in a way they can easily replicate with others, while being true to their own style, giftedness and personality.
A personal example: I have a strong measure of the teaching gift, which my house church noticed early on. I was offered the responsibility to lead short devotionals in our gatherings within months (not years) of my salvation. I prayed and studied hard to prepare for each of my 5 minute teaching moments. I'm sure that I made a number of errors in the process. With undeveloped theology and lack of Christian life experience I'm certain that I said things that were flat out wrong. The group however knew that I was a new babe in Christ and that I was a disciple in training. They gently offered alternate views when necessary and encouraged and corrected me along the way. This experience allowed me to deploy my teaching gift early, to discover my voice and style of teaching faster than would have happened in a traditional church model, and to grow in humble confidence to stand in front of others and teach the word of God at an accelerated pace.
Finally, expect that the ministries developed in your house churches will vary based on the make up and location of each house church. Resist the desire for sameness and allow each church to introduce ministries organically, based on the needs and the gifting of each house church.
Furthermore, house churches are volunteer led, which contributes to the high level of involvement - no one is getting paid to do this, we are all doing this together.
There are a number of ways to collect offerings in a house church model. Financial contribution should be a normal worship element. Consider how to make the collection natural and joyful, and how to distribute the monies collected. Encourage good communication of financial needs from your house church network and from the mother church. I pray that you will be overwhelmed by the generosity spawned in your house church gatherings.
Second, expect that each house church will want to "do something" about the needs in their spheres of influence. Collect and share the stories on how this is happening in your house churches. Provide for house church collaboration on shared missional initiatives.
6. Connection to the Larger Community - your house church is part of a larger community - the mother church. It is important to find meaningful ways of connection that goes beyond announcements or curriculum pieces. In days of isolation, people in churches are most longing to see each other. Find ways to feature personal stories and updates, encouragements, spiritual care and guidance in ways that will keep your house church firmly tethered to the home base.
Neil Cole, who has speaks and writes about the House Church, says "What churches win people with, is what churches win them to." The house church wins people with the love that Christians have for one another and for God, it wins them with a living and vital relationship with God, with a love for God's word and for worship, it wins them with the gospel of love, peace and reconciliation, and it wins them with action on behalf of those who need help.