My friends at GreenChurch have put together a site called EverywhereChurch that is worth a look. I like their outline of "How to Begin:"
Micro-clusters of friends (and their network of relationships) can become a life changing “where-they-live” Body-of-Christ!
- Ask God to arrange encounters between you and the friends/acquaintances/strangers in whom He has been stirring up a deep spiritual yearning. Keep praying and sharing with whomever He brings your way until some are ready to journey with you in this church…it only takes a few. Trust His Spirit to connect you to the right ones, and to have their hearts open. Many will not yet be Christians. Don’t begin until HE guides you to the person or group HE has been preparing.
- Gather at a home, apartment, park, café, etc., wherever the group will participate.
- Seek to be a fully functioning Body of Christ (a church) at the very first gathering. Without using “churchy terms” you can guide the group to experience the 5 basics of church life (see the practical suggestions below).
- At every gathering ask God to continue arranging encounters between current participants and others in whom He has created a heart hunger for the person of Christ. Always be authentic, never false, in caring for another person. Be sensitive to their needs. Never manipulate. Include and value each one.
- Personally pray for God to raise up an “intern” who will work with you and reproduce the church in another group.
- Gather for 12 weeks, then seek God’s next step together…sharpen what you doing and be the Body-of-Christ another 12 weeks. Repeat.
Practical ideas for the basic functions of the Body-of-Christ
- Supportive Friendships. Share life concerns and pray for each other (perhaps silently if some prefer). Take turns telling (a) what the world has been dumping on you this week, and (b) what God has been doing in your life. “Be there” for one another in the ups and downs of everyday living. Try this over a simple meal each week.
- Authentic Worship. Focus on God’s greatness using any combination of music (guitar, CD, video), art, silence/awe, nature, testimony, scripture promises, etc.
- Obedience-based Discipleship. Apply a Bible passage to how you live. As a group, dialogue over what it says about (a) God, (b) self, (c) others, (d) life. Pick practical scriptures like: Psalms, Matt. 5-7, John 8, Gal. 6, Philippians, or James. Encourage persons to partner in “Authenticity” pairs during the week.
- Life-involvement Evangelism. Include not-yet-Christians fully and naturally, and allow them to hear/see how Christ is working in the lives of those present. Nurture everyone toward expressing their own “journey-with-God” in genuine relationships. Let people be drawn to God by all they experience in the group.
- Servanthood Caring. Seek opportunities to help others like Christ would (Matt. 25:35-36). Do a mission project. Help someone in a life crisis. Take a weekly offering (always let “giving” be an act of worship) and have the group decide on how to use it in meeting someone’s need.
- Baptize anyone who puts their faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. Anyone okayed by the church can baptize as part of gathered worship. Any place is okay.