Due in part to the difficult economic climate that exists today, there is currently a tremendous need for an optimistic sense of hope, close supportive friendships, spiritual strength, and a life that has purpose. We are attempting to meet those needs through House Churches that meet for a meal, a lively discussion of a passage from the Bible, sharing personal needs and dreams followed by a time of prayer. The vast majority of ministry and caring at Hope Bible Church takes place in the House Churches.
Ephesians 4:12 tells us that the Pastor is to equip God’s people to minister to others. Pastor Morris studies God’s Word in depth and puts together interactive Bible studies that he does with his House Church and other House Church Leaders who do these Bible studies with their House Churches. The House Church Leaders encourage, care for and pray for those in their House Church. The House Church also provides a comfortable and natural way to reach out and invite friends. When a House Church fills up it divides and multiplies which in turn creates more leadership opportunities for those interested in having a House Church. Those who are not interested in becoming House Church Leaders are still encouraged to grow in their faith and share their faith by following a biblically based equipping track which the House Church Leaders are also doing. It begins with Godquest followed by Call to Joy, Call to Growth, the study of the Book of Genesis, etc. The Apostle Paul says to Timothy in II Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Meeting in homes for ministry is nothing new. It is what the early church did. Consider the following passages:
1 Corinthians 16:19, “Aquilla and Priscilla greet you warmly…so does the church that meets at their house.”
Romans 16:5, “Greet the church that meets at their house.”
Colossians 4:15, “Give my greetings…to Nympha and the church that meets in her home.”
Philemon 2, “To our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in their house.”
When the early church made the home the center of its ministry, it unleashed and leveraged the power of relationships for both caring and outreach.
Three times a year (the Saturday before Christmas, the Saturday before Easter and the second Saturday in August) all of the House Churches meet together. This format which has been called cell-celebration is also not new.
Acts 2:46 and Acts 5:42 tell us that this is what the early Christian church did:
Acts 2:46 says, “Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,“
Acts 5:42 says, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”
With the “two winged” format of cell-celebration the early church soared for roughly 300 years. During those years these relationship-based churches met in homes which provided the opportunity for people to build deep and caring friendships. This changed in A.D. 312 when Constantine made Christianity legal and Christians stopped meeting in homes and met only in large groups in special buildings. With this change the church became, for all practical purposes, an audience. While the Reformation caused a theological change that brought us back to the Bible, it did not bring a structural change. The cell-celebration format is a “back to the Bible” structural change.