Note: This is a new category of articles that I am writing to encourage and resource those who have been facilitating/leading house churches. The entire series of articles is entitled: "Making Good House Churches Better." I want this to be useful (tools) as well as encouraging (inspiration). If you have suggestions for this series, please comment!
When People or Churches Feel Bogged Down
Sooner or later some, most, or all of the members of a house church will become dissatisfied with the gathering.
“It’s not worshipful enough.” “We seem to be in a rut.” “The needs of my children aren’t being met.” “We are not reaching out.” “We need to be more open with each other and closer.” “We don’t seem to be going anywhere.”
Sometimes, just verbalizing the longings or dissatisfactions are enough to catalyze the church to move in some new directions or make new commitments. The beauty of house church is that we can change course nearly instantaneously. We want to reach out more? Let’s plan something for next week! We want to focus more on the children? Let’s do it today!
Most house churches will benefit by simply making space for conversations about what is working and what is not working. Adjustments can be made and God will bring greater fruitfulness as a result.
Sometimes it requires digging deeper. There are times, though, when a church can benefit by taking a step back and asking itself, as a group, some good questions.
A Tool for Digging Deeper
Following is a church conversation that we find is useful to do regularly, sometimes as frequent as every six months:
1. We begin by reminding ourselves that “church” is about lifestyle. The normal Christian life is about everyday, 24/7, living and walking with Jesus. The gathering times are simply meant to support the lifestyle.
2. Secondly, we remind each other that no gathering is going to provide everything that we need to sustain our spiritual life. In fact, we each are responsible to determine what feeds and nurtures our relationship with God and seek multiple avenues to stay refreshed and grow. Sometimes our regular gatherings with our house church will meet many of those needs and sometimes only a few. We can find other avenues for refreshment and life!
3. Thirdly, we ask each person in the group to describe what need they would most want their gatherings to meet. It is good to make a list of everything that is shared and encourage people to really brainstorm. The list will include things like: prayer, prolonged worship, a safe place to be vulnerable and connect, bible study, a place to be with friends, a time where children are included. Hopefully everyone gets the chance to express what they most want out of their time together as a church family.
4. Finally, the group needs to work together at prioritizing this list. Obviously every gathering cannot meet the needs of every item on the list. A good question to ask is: “If we can only accomplish only one of these things on the list, what would we want it to be?” Hopefully, the church can come up with the top two or three.
5. Finally, the group can talk about how to best accomplish the top couple of priorities.
Important Note: These priorities will shift over time… sometimes quickly. This is one of the ways the Holy Spirit leads. Thus it can be so important and helpful for churches to update this entire process on a regular basis.