How do we start a new home church? Do we gather church goers who don’t enjoy traditional church anymore or do we try to make one from new believers who have never attended church? Or do we have a mix of each?
A few years ago I was teaching an older lady how to play the guitar. She had originally taught herself but wasn’t progressing past a certain point. She was struggling to keep up with the chord changes in some of the songs she wanted to play so decided to take lessons.
Each half hour lesson I took was split into 2 parts. I taught her chord changes for the first 15 minutes then picking for the last 15.
Her chord changes were a disaster. She had taught herself to put one finger on the fret board at a time instead of moving them all in one fluid motion. By the time she had changed chords, the song playing in the background had changed to another chord. No matter what I did or how much she practised, she struggled to unlearn what had become a habit for her over so many years.
Her picking on the other hand was fantastic. She had never done any picking in her life, so it was all new. I gave her a sheet of different picking patterns which should have taken a month to learn and she flew through it within a few weeks.
I have seen the same principle with various home churches that I have been a part of.
Most of the people in home churches are ex church goers who are frustrated with the institutional church.
After being part of the institutional church for so long, it has been very hard to get them out of the ‘gather people to make disciples’ mentality and into the ‘go and make disciples’ one. They are generally very comfortable sitting around discussing scripture, eating meals together and sharing testimonies but there is very little going out to actively preach the gospel to non-believers.
Compare that to a new believer who hasn’t been churched. They just read God’s word, believe it and do what it says. There is no need to unlearn anything and may have only recently had someone come to them with the news of the gospel. To get them to go out and make more disciples is usually a lot easier.
However, meeting with only new believers will present its own problems. They may easily turn back to the cares of the world or desire to go to traditional church because it is the ‘done thing’.
I think the ideal situation is to have a mix of both new and old believers.
Both groups have their strong points and weak points. As long as both remain open to learning, they can learn off each other and become fantastic members of home church.
So, where do we find people to start a home church?
It is as simple as talking to many people as possible. Whether you are in the supermarket, petrol station, sports field or shopping mall. Wherever you are, say hello to people and try to steer the conversation to God.
Initiating a conversation with a stranger then steering the conversation towards spiritual matters can seem incredibly scary if you’ve never done it before.
I am an introvert, so it is not natural for me to approach strangers. I would quite comfortably not talk to anyone all day. I know that’s not going to help me make disciples like Jesus commanded, so I must step out of my comfort zone.
The best way to approach someone is to treat them like an old friend that you haven’t seen for years.
Make sure that what you say to them is clear, loud and slow so that they can understand you. Don’t let your words fall to the ground. What that means is, if you speak a sentence to a stranger of ten words, make sure that they hear and understand all ten words.
Smile, be bold and make eye contact.
You might be saying to yourself: ‘That’s great, I can do that. But what do I say?’
The best way to approach people is to put yourself in their shoes and ask a question that may line up with what they’re thinking about. If they are looking at something in a shop, talk about the thing they’re looking at. If they’re taking a selfie, offer to take a photo for them. If they are waiting around, ask them for the time.
To put it simply, be friendly!
After you have started the conversation, you can now decide how and when to turn it to spiritual matters depending on how talkative they are. You could start by saying:
“Can I ask you an interesting question?”
This makes people curious. Then you could ask one of these questions:
“What do you think happens to you when you die?”
“Are you a spiritual person?”
“What will be important to you in 200 years?
“Do you think dogs go to heaven?” (Good if someone is walking their dog)
There are many others you can use to get them thinking outside natural matters. You just need to be bold enough to use them and then keep the conversation on spiritual matters long enough that you can tell them about Jesus.
You steer the conversation.
If you sense that they are interested in talking more, you can arrange to meet up another time, ideally at their home where they feel most comfortable. Go there and talk with them about Jesus. If they are not interested in talking more, find someone else who is interested. Then you, or they, can invite others to join in. That’s pretty much all it takes to start a home church.