Church Plants and House Churches

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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
This is a sidebar discussion inspired by the House Church thread.

I suppose there are many different methods of planting a new church. In our situation we were planted by a large Baptist church that "seeded" us with a large cash gift and monthly support checks for a period of time. Unfortunately we never had to give account for the money we were given. Our sending church never came along side us to help. We were truly on our own except for assistance with our book keeping. Looking back on that experience I wonder whether starting off as a house church would have been better than the way we took. We were saddled with a lease for office space and rent for a school we used twice a week. We also had two full time salaries (pastor and music pastor) and benefits; all for a brand new church that was not established in the community. Had we started in a house or a smaller facility we would have being better stewards of God's money. I also believe the sense of community among the members would have been stronger.

What is the consensus on the PB about church planting and meeting in homes? Have many of you been down this road? I'm interested in hearing different stories.
 

jambo

Puritan Board Senior
I often feel in the Christian life we tend to think how better things would have been had we done things a bit differently in the past. Yet I believe we deceive ourselves by doing so. We can all trace mistakes stemming from errors in judgment or with decisions made that may have been influenced by pride, greed, arrogance or whatever. But in the providence of God each church has the membership it has in the location it is in facing the problems that it faces with the Lord as the Vinedresser pruning and cutting in order to cultivate the vine and thus produce more fruit.

The church I currently belong to was the daughter church of another Baptist church in the suburbs of Belfast which in turn was a daughter church of one from the centre of Belfast. I would like to think that as we grow, once our numbers reach 120+ (we are currently around 40) or so that we would then plant a daughter church. I would see this starting as a house group in an area before meeting in a public rented location.

The leadership in a situation like this needs to be stable, the mother church needs to be supportive without pulling strings. Almost like a parent teaching a child to ride a bike. You have to let go and hope they don't fall off. The house group need to be established before moving into a public rented building when maturity and numbers make this viable.

I know there have been problems in the past with house groups developing their own agenda or latching onto a one doctrine mindset, but for every one horror story there are ten encouraging, God honouring stories of people converted, churches growing, people being nurtured and discples being made.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
This is a sidebar discussion inspired by the House Church thread.

I suppose there are many different methods of planting a new church. In our situation we were planted by a large Baptist church that "seeded" us with a large cash gift and monthly support checks for a period of time. Unfortunately we never had to give account for the money we were given. Our sending church never came along side us to help. We were truly on our own except for assistance with our book keeping. Looking back on that experience I wonder whether starting off as a house church would have been better than the way we took. We were saddled with a lease for office space and rent for a school we used twice a week. We also had two full time salaries (pastor and music pastor) and benefits; all for a brand new church that was not established in the community. Had we started in a house or a smaller facility we would have being better stewards of God's money. I also believe the sense of community among the members would have been stronger.

What is the consensus on the PB about church planting and meeting in homes? Have many of you been down this road? I'm interested in hearing different stories.

The problem with meeting in someone's home is that it is not a public meeting. You can bend over backwards to insist that it is public and anyone is welcome to attend, but by and large, no visitor is going to be comfortable going to some stranger's house without a specific invitation. I had meetings in my house every Fri night for years and kept insisting it was a public meeting, but never once did we have a stranger join us.

I think it is very important that churches be as public as possible. So I recommend spending the extra money to get a public building even if it doesn't appear that you need the extra space. It is better to spend more money on a public building than to try to save money by turning church into a private affair. :2cents:
 

Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
This is a sidebar discussion inspired by the House Church thread.

I suppose there are many different methods of planting a new church. In our situation we were planted by a large Baptist church that "seeded" us with a large cash gift and monthly support checks for a period of time. Unfortunately we never had to give account for the money we were given. Our sending church never came along side us to help. We were truly on our own except for assistance with our book keeping. Looking back on that experience I wonder whether starting off as a house church would have been better than the way we took. We were saddled with a lease for office space and rent for a school we used twice a week. We also had two full time salaries (pastor and music pastor) and benefits; all for a brand new church that was not established in the community. Had we started in a house or a smaller facility we would have being better stewards of God's money. I also believe the sense of community among the members would have been stronger.

What is the consensus on the PB about church planting and meeting in homes? Have many of you been down this road? I'm interested in hearing different stories.

Bill, I wish things had gone better for you in your effort...

We've been on the "church planting" road for about 16 months now. The Lord has provided most graciously for us in that we hold our services in a historic old schoolhouse that we rent for an astoundingly low weekly fee. The schoolhouse is maintained by the township in which we live; township employees even set up the chairs and the "pulpit" for us. Another church plant uses it in the morning and our service is at 3:30 p.m. Our rental fee includes the use of the building's kitchen for a short time of fellowship after every service.

The Lord has also provided for us in that since we've been holding regular, Lord's Day services, starting Jan. 6 of this year, we've been able to pay our church planter/evangelist/minister a stipend, but he does work at a part-time job - and his wife works as well - necessarily in order to supplement their income. We hope and pray that these aspects will change if it's the Lord's will that we grow.

The whole effort has required some substantial outlays by those who are truly interested in the type of worship that we do, but it's all been worth it. It was only a gleam in my eye in January, 2007 - but when I look around on Sunday afternoons and see the people gathered, and hear the type of Gospel preaching that we hear now, I can only thank the Lord for what He's done. We have no competition for what we offer in an approximately 20-county radius around us (that would extend, by definition, into Essex County in Canada) and it probably gives us some advantage. Last Sunday, we had some visitors from an adjacent state who drove almost two hours to reach us.

Church-planting and/or house churches require the Lord's will that they be started in the first place. They also need prayer and our reliance upon God's grace and strength, plus a strong, unwavering commitment to dedicate time, effort, energy and resources to them. They require an eagerness to reach out to other Christians and to the lost for Christ, no matter what the personal cost is and no matter how unlikely success seems to be at first glance. "His ways are not our ways..." This church-planting effort has taken me way beyond what I thought was my personal, social "comfort zone," but that had to happen.

We are blessed also in that we're only about 140 miles from the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.

If this schoolhouse had not been available, we would be meeting in someone's home (probably ours) every week. Would we then have been able to accommodate some of the numbers of people who come some Lord's Days? Probably not, and so all of this may not have happened at all.

We've been blessed...

Margaret
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
The Church I currently attend started out meeting in a house, then moved to a storefront, then to where we are located now. They moved as they raised the money..the founding pastor didn't receive a salary or a stipend, he worked full-time in another career from which he retired, when they moved to the store front..


So I don't know why others don't do the same..
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
This is our situation as well, except that I'm not yet receiving a salary from the Church, nor will I, until we have settled in a building of our own, free from entanglements. We're building for generations to come, and not only for ourselves. We began in our home, and it was a real challenge week by week to handle 50-60 folks--but the Lord has blessed us with a large home, with plenty of restrooms, etc. There were some advantages, but I agree with Rev. Klein that a Church needs to be more public and inviting. We have moved to a leased storefront, still with our 50-60, and the increased visibility has brought some visitors, praise God. It is important however, that Church plants be done according to the Scriptures, and as I Presbyterian, I believe that is under the authority of a Presbytery, connected to other believers by a common confession, worship, and discipline. I was sent by the Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA to this area to plant this Church, and the Lord has seen fit to bless those efforts thus far. Please pray for us, as we will for you-all, that the Lord would beautify His Church in our days.
 

Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
This is our situation as well, except that I'm not yet receiving a salary from the Church, nor will I, until we have settled in a building of our own, free from entanglements. We're building for generations to come, and not only for ourselves. We began in our home, and it was a real challenge week by week to handle 50-60 folks--but the Lord has blessed us with a large home, with plenty of restrooms, etc. There were some advantages, but I agree with Rev. Klein that a Church needs to be more public and inviting. We have moved to a leased storefront, still with our 50-60, and the increased visibility has brought some visitors, praise God. It is important however, that Church plants be done according to the Scriptures, and as I Presbyterian, I believe that is under the authority of a Presbytery, connected to other believers by a common confession, worship, and discipline. I was sent by the Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA to this area to plant this Church, and the Lord has seen fit to bless those efforts thus far. Please pray for us, as we will for you-all, that the Lord would beautify His Church in our days.

How encouraging! :) Yes, you will certainly be on our prayer list! Thank you for posting this, Rev. Ruddell!

Margaret
 

servantofmosthigh

Puritan Board Freshman
The problem with meeting in someone's home is that it is not a public meeting. You can bend over backwards to insist that it is public and anyone is welcome to attend, but by and large, no visitor is going to be comfortable going to some stranger's house without a specific invitation. I had meetings in my house every Fri night for years and kept insisting it was a public meeting, but never once did we have a stranger join us.

I think it is very important that churches be as public as possible. So I recommend spending the extra money to get a public building even if it doesn't appear that you need the extra space. It is better to spend more money on a public building than to try to save money by turning church into a private affair. :2cents:

I agree with you in general, but I think we should consider differing situations. In China, going public means definite imprisonment, torture and even death. Remaining as private as possible until Chinese law changes concerning Christianity is the wisest way. And through these underground home churches, Christianity is spreading in China. So praise be to God for that.

In America, many church plants meet in peoples' homes for worship, bible studies, etc. Even established churches have home bible studies and cell groups. But the difference is that established churches worship in a large facility either owned or rented. Church plants meeting in homes do not have the attendance numbers or finances to do so. But the goal and vision should always be to move to a public place eventually.

Tony Evans planted his church in his garage for the first 15 years. During those 15 years, only about 3-5 families came. Today, his church building can seat 5,000 people for one worship service. I believe he has 2 morning worship services.

I know of another church plant in NYC that began with 3 families meeting and worshipping in a basement of one family's house. Eventually, they bought a former post office building, converted it into a church building, and worship there on a regular basis.

The problem is not with worshipping in homes if the goal is to eventually move out of the homes into a public building. The problem is the Home Church Network where the idea is to remain in the homes. Their philosophy is that if the group gets too big, then divide the groups into more available homes, assign new home group leaders, but remain in the homes. The Home Church Network was conceptualized by former missionaries in China, bringing it to America. These former missionaries fail to realize that the Home Church Network philosophy isn't the ideal choice of a church in any country, but is the best choice for China so long as Chinese law bans Christianity. Whereas in America, it is not the ideal choice nor is it a good choice among many. But it is a practical choice for new church plants to get its feet on the ground until it can sustain itself in public.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The problem is not with worshipping in homes if the goal is to eventually move out of the homes into a public building. The problem is the Home Church Network where the idea is to remain in the homes. Their philosophy is that if the group gets too big, then divide the groups into more available homes, assign new home group leaders, but remain in the homes. The Home Church Network was conceptualized by former missionaries in China, bringing it to America. These former missionaries fail to realize that the Home Church Network philosophy isn't the ideal choice of a church in any country, but is the best choice for China so long as Chinese law bans Christianity. Whereas in America, it is not the ideal choice nor is it a good choice among many. But it is a practical choice for new church plants to get its feet on the ground until it can sustain itself in public.

Exactly! And that is to my point in the other thread that many home churchers have good intentions, if not misguided ones.
 
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