We are Starting a Church

When I met my husband, he told me during our engagement that he knew God had called him to start a church. I should have gone running. I mean, I had said these exact words on numerous occasions: “I never want to be a pastor’s wife.”

And here I am, along side my husband and a few family and friends, starting a church. My husband’s vision became my vision. God’s vision became our vision.

God has given us a different sort of vision for the church He has called us to start, however. We essentially aim to go back to basics…

We are starting a house church and, prayerfully, not just a house church, but a movement–a house church movement that will resemble (and Lord willing, rival) that of the New Testament church. Where will it begin? In our home, of course.

Sound like a big, lofty, even impossible dream? Probably, but God is in the big, lofty dream business, last I checked.

Our desire is to have the focus of church shifted away from the Sunday corporate service and instead placed on small, simple, organic churches that happen to take place in a home. These house churches will be the primary meeting and gathering of the saints.

Yes, we will still have a “corporate” service, but it will not be reserved for preaching or teaching only, but also for casting vision, sharing testimonies, and, of course, worshiping together.

I won’t take too much time explaining all the details here, as there is plenty of time to do that. I would like, however, to turn it over to you guys. This week on Twitter I asked some questions regarding the house church movement (which, if you follow me on Twitter, you would have known…and if you don’t follow me yet, what’s up?).

Here are a few questions we will begin asking our house church members that I wanted to ask you, as well:

1. What is Church?

This question sounds simple enough, but what is it really? Is it the Bride of Christ? Is it the fellowship of the saints? Is it filled with hypocrites? Is the church a building, a time from 9:00-12:00 on Sundays? What is Church?

2. What is the purpose of the Church?

Is the Church for the believer only? For the unbeliever only? For both? How should the Church function? What is the mission statement of the Church, or what do you think it should be?

3. What is a disciple?

This question seems like a trick question, but it is not. We plan to focus heavily (almost entirely) on discipleship. What do you think discipleship is or isn’t? And for that matter, what is a disciple?

If you feel compelled to answer one, two, or even all three of these questions–please do. I would love to hear your opinion and thoughts.

God has exciting, albeit scary, things down the road for me and my family. We are prayerfully moving forward with eager anticipation about how and what the Lord is going to do. Thank you for your prayers.

Feel free to hit me up with any other questions regarding starting a church that you might have. Let’s talk.

31 thoughts on “We are Starting a Church”

  1. I highly recommend reading the book “A Peculiar People” by Rodney Clapp. He completely overhauled my understanding of what happens when believers get together.

    Also, as a bit of self-promotion, I did a talk at the worship gathering I lead where I explored what the Biblical concept of Church is – I explore in there many of the same questions you are. It’s on my blog under podcasts :)

    I am excited to see where this leads. Have you explored other churches that use this model? (One here in OH is called Apex, and styles itself as a network of house churches).

    1. I will check out that book and your podcasts. Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion either.

      Thanks too for sharing Apex with us. We checked out their site and my husband dug it. I think we might reach out to them and try to connect.

      We of course have been reading about and examining other house church models, really for the last year.

      God is still bringing together details and other resources are always appreciated, so thank you!

  2. About time! I’ll be there :-)

    Oh yeah, and for my answers, here is a first pass:

    #1 Church is the people who follow God through his son Jesus Christ, wherever they meet, being a witness of the Savior through words, actions, and thoughts.

    #2 The purpose of the Church is to edify the saints (each other) and make disciples of all nations (evangelism + discipleship)

    #3 A disciple is person who follows the example of Christ, advancing the Kingdom (rule and reign)of God and obeying his commands – including loving one another and making more disciples.

    …in a nutshell

    1. Ben,
      I LOVE your answers. They are almost exactly what I would have said, so yes, I like them because you agree with me.

      #3 is a tricky one and your closing words are the part most people forget “making more disciples.”

      See you there Ben!

  3. Hey Nicole, not able to answer all the questions right now as I only have a couple minutes. But just wanted to say Bless you guys, I will be praying for you!(And I mean that, I WILL BE) Starting a church is hard! But I think you guys are going about it in the right way. Jonathan and you received some good discipleship from Pastor Dennis, you have a great support system in your family and friends. I think you will be a very good pastor’s wife, I think the Lord has been training you for that, as I’m sure you already realize. But even I can see it!

    I know that house churches are a great movement. I think it’s a good idea to explore books, testimonies, and other churches that are using this model, like the response before me mentions, which, knowing you guys, I am sure you are doing things like that.

    Personally, I only have real knowledge about one house church that was located in the Anaheim/Orange Area in Orange County, CA a number of years ago. It was lead by some former leaders from Anaheim Vineyard. I knew an older couple who attended it, strong Christians, and their one complaint is that it seemed that since it was so small and they wanted transparency, genuine relationship/community etc, the church seemed to grow more and more inward, so that every service seemed to be only about listening to everyone’s inner struggles, and so forth. I lost contact with this couple so I don’t know if it ever grew out of that or not. Just wanted to offer that one perspective, where too much of a good thing can become unhealthy.

    I have confidence in you guys and know that the Lord is with you. Blessings to you, would love to come and visit sometime!

    1. Jill,
      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I really can’t tell you how much your words mean, so thank you.

      I can see some of the concerns you raised in regards to house churches. I think though that as long as you value Truth and Spirit (which is still a difficult balance) you can avoid too much self-indulgent “inner struggle” sessions.

      Jon and I , along with every one else who is coming along for the ride, have much to learn. God is revealing more bit by bit and we are excited!

      Thank you for your prayers Jill.

  4. so you are birthing TWO babies! haha! wow! how awesome to step out in faith as you sense this calling over your lives. i am so excited for you. we go to a semi-small church and each thursday night the body stands up and shares testimonies, prayer requests or praise. this has deepened and authenticated us and drawn us into more fellowship in christ.

    i wonder if looking at the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3 is a good starting ground for modeling the NT church. We always go to Acts, but there is some powerful truth that comes straight from the mouth of Jesus.

    again. i am just so excited for you both!

  5. Here I am back to share some more thoughts…

    I have mixed feelings about the house church model. Your family makes the third family inside the last year that I have encountered that is making the house church movement their model. The other two families believe that ‘church’ as we know is outdated and ineffective. My concerns are, for them and others, that the people I know who have wanted to move to this movement are wanting to do in order to escape the politics, hypocrisy and other baggage that comes from doing life together with other Christians. On the other hand, there is something to be said for doing church the way it was done in the first century and for many years before Constantine screwed it up. For me, I would never want to be a part of a house church because I would do it with the wrong motives. My friends who firmly believe in this movement have many more opportunities for ministry and make better use of the times they do have for ministry. Being able to connect with people in a non-threatening way for them to get to know Jesus is essential. That is the major upside to house church… you can’t get anymore non-threatening than sharing dinner at someone’s house. The church I currently attend with have a discussion group called Theology on Tap where we meet at a pub to allow non-believers to come in an have a forum to ask the tough questions and we try to wade through it all… and have a few beers in the process. I applaud you for your convictions and your willingness to follow God where he calls you.

    As far as your questions go, I do want to weigh in on them…

    1. What is Church? In response to your tweet of this question I think I said something like the bride of Christ whom he loves unequivocally and would do anything for, including die for us. We are a safe place for broken and beat up people to come and find peace and repair in Jesus. We are broken people who need Jesus as much as the lost we are trying to save.

    2. What is the purpose of the Church? the purpose of the church is to encourage those in the faith and get those that aren’t in the faith in there. In short constantly working out our salvation while leading others to salvation. Ministry is the purpose of the church. James tells us pure and undefiled religion is to care for the orphans and widows. Care for those that can’t care for themselves.

    3. What is a disciple? Someone who is disciplining in the art or way of a particular brand of teaching. When we talk about a disciple of Christ it is someone who makes every effort to be more like Christ. It is someone who follows Christ in every aspect of their life (or tries to anyway). Someone who is discipling themselves in the art/way of Jesus Christ.

    That was all the thinking I could muster for one day… my brain is tired and now needs sleep…

  6. We’re on a fairly similar journey – ‘cept we are in a “church” that views the home-based cell groups as “the churches”. So it’s not *a* congregation, it’s several churches who occasionally do stuff together (and don’t call it a Sunday Service).

    My wife and I have been nutting out what our cel/home fellowship will look like, just putting in the final polish of our pitch. So I’ll share it with you when it’s done if you like – in case it resonates with your situation.

    The key things for us:

    What is church? – the fellowship of believers unencumbered as much as possible by organisational obligation.

    What is the purpose of church? – a meeting of like-minds who wish to use accountability and fellowship (particularly over a shared meal) as tools in the service of sharing the gospel and making disciples. (A shared mission focus will be an important part of our home church).

    What is a disciple? – someone passionately committed to furthering the Kingdom cause on earth.

    1. Andrew,
      So cool. I like what it sounds like you’ve got going on. I would love to hear your final pitch when it’s ready!

      I also like your answers, especially the food part. I think to some it seems silly, but food is so important to fellowship.

      Keep me posted please on your “church” status. I really love hearing what God is doing in different parts through unique means.

  7. I’m not sure how or what to answer to your post, other than Good Luck and Blessings! :)

    There is a book you might want to read called “Facing East”, and it’s by Frederica Mathewes-Green. It’s about them starting an Orthodox church. While they are starting a “branch” (or whatever you call it) of the established Church, there might be some interesting things in that book that will inspire you guys.

    Ps. Glad to be back reading your posts, after a few weeks of craziness here on my end. Hope your vacation was great!

  8. 2) What is the purpose of the church?
    “To know Christ and make Christ known”
    Yes, discipleship but also mission. If we believe what we say we believe, and if it is true, then surely we can’t have any other response but to tell EVERYONE about it?
    Just a snapshot of my heart :)

  9. My question… Isn’t a house still a building? Just maybe it becomes a more condensed version of the commercial corporate entity that calls itself a church. One has a pew, one has a sofa. One meets Sunday morning, the other a weekday night. One has a paid pastor… Actually maybe both are paid… A house church can still have a pastor… Even if he is not paid…. All human built clubs have human leaders.

    From my own experience… As one who went from traditional corporate “church” to house church; I found them to be very similar. And today I am not convinced that either one is what Jesus had in mind for his Bride. I know he loves his kids no matter what club they choose to be a part of. I am not a member of any club now, but I drop in on meetings on occasion to hang with my brothers and sisters that God had given me. I prefer to hang with people away from the corporate programs and set meetings.

    I was a very judgmental person when I was a club member. I changed clubs often and every time I did, I became RIGHT again, like I had a cause to promote. Now I don’t know if there is a right or wrong when it comes to “going to church” or “not going to church”. The program works for some, but doesn’t work for everyone.

    I heard that there are two reasons for “going to church”

    1. Because I get something out of it
    2. Because I am obligated to go.

    Kudos for those who still get something out of Sunday morning services… I am not going to rain on their parade. I was there. I once got something out of going and committing. But I am saddened for those who go out of obligation. I was there too. It is for those that I want to say… “there is another way.”

    God wants us to experience His love for us. And out of that love, He puts people in our life to love and to receive love from. That is the beauty of life. That is what I wish for everyone.

    Thanks for sharing you thoughts, Nicole… I am enjoying reading them.

    Ruby Neumann
    Edmonton, Alberta

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