Stay Home to Go to Church
Ideas for Having a House Church
Over the years there have been times when I couldn’t go to church. I’m not talking about the Sundays I was ill or traveling. Instead, I’m referring to times when the church canceled its service. These have included weather-related problems, power outages, no heat, and construction issues. Each of these instances affected only one Sunday, and the next week everything returned to normal.
However, I can now add another reason to this list of why churches may close: to stop the spread of a potentially deadly virus in the midst of a health pandemic. When this occurs, we stay in our home for church. We have house church.
Here are some ideas to have church at home.
Duplicate a Typical Service
We could plan for and provide the elements of one of today’s church services in our home. This means having someone lead worship, pray, and teach a lesson at our house church. If we wanted, we could even take an offering.
This provides the opportunity for better interaction and greater participation. It also requires a great deal of preparation for those who will lead. The more people who will gather in our home to experience this type of church, the more meaningful this can become. Doing this one time would be hard. It would be even more challenging to sustain it over many weeks.
As an alternative, we have many options online that can bring a church service into our home. These include podcasts of sermons, videos of services (either in part or in full), and live streaming. From the comfort of our home we can listen to messages or watch services as they take place. This allows us to experience the main elements of a church service with little preparation or effort.
What we lack from this approach, however, is community. Aside from our small gathering of family or friends who sit in our living room to experience our house church, we have no opportunity to interact with others. These online options do not include the ability to connect with other followers of Jesus.
Just Hang Out
To address the lack of community that will occur when we passively tap into online church services and resources, we have the option to get together with the goal of spending time with each other (see Hebrews 10:25). Of course, if only the people in our house—who we’ve already been hanging out with all week—are present, we won’t gain much more in doing so on Sunday. However, if we can invite friends or neighbors over, this could provide meaningful, spiritual community—if we pursue it with intention.A house church is where everyone can participate, and everyone can take turns ministering to one another. Click To Tweet
Follow Paul’s Advice on a House Church
Each of these three approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. However, Paul gives us some ideas of what we could do for house church in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:26). For now, don’t focus on Paul’s list but let’s look at the phrase that precedes it: “each of you.” This suggests an egalitarian house church, where everyone can participate, and everyone can take turns ministering to one another.
Can we do that? Of course, we can. (Read more about Paul’s house church instructions.)
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.