How do I start a house church?

Guide by:
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Dear Mike,
How do I start a house church?

This question comes from Jeffrey in Namibia, Africa. Jeffrey tells me about a house church that he's starting in his mother's house. He had some questions about that. And I want to congratulate him and those who are trying to begin a house church in, in a private home. And the question arises "is it okay to start a house church?"

Some people have a problem with that. They don't think that a house church is like a real church. And it reminds me that for various reasons back in the first century, because of persecution or lack of funds or legal impediments most churches were in people's homes.

In the first century they didn't go out and build a church building. When they had a lot of people they, they had churches in private homes sometimes in rented locations. We hear about Paul in Acts 19 conducting Bible classes in the school of Tyrannus, which was a kind of a lecture hall if you wish. But there were no dedicated church buildings at the beginning and so those were legitimate churches.

Think about that for a second. Here, you have apostles and various individuals who are writing epistles, who are writing gospels even and they're addressed to different individuals, sent to different churches. When we think of the churches they were sending these letters to, the church at Corinth or the church at Ephesus, we think of some sort of large cathedral or some large church structure, but actually these were people in private homes who are receiving these inspired letters from the apostles and sharing them with the people, maybe in their living room or in their kitchens. The slaves in the household, as well as the children and the adults would constitute an individual church and they would share this information, with other house churches nearby.

And so the point I'm trying to get across here is that there's no, there's no need for permission.

Many people think that they need to get permission to start a house church. You don't need permission. Now you might need some instruction. You might have to have instruction on how to do such the thing, but you don't have to get permission from somebody up in the administration or some church leader to give permission to start a church in your home.

Now, of course, if you want to start a Catholic church, or if you want to start a Baptist church or a Mormon church or a Presbyterian church or any brand name church, well, I suppose you would have to get permission to use the name and to use the brand of that particular group.

The New Testament Church

If all you want to do is to start a church in order to worship God, you don't need anybody's permission. Especially, if you want to start what's called a New Testament church because there's no copyright on the idea of a New Testament church. When I talk about a New Testament church, I'm really referring to a church that is based on the instructions found in the New Testament, which is in the Bible.

There's no fee. There's no permission. There's no cost contract. There's no copyright that you require if you wish to begin a Christian Church, a New Testament church in the basement of your house or the living room of your house. I know a fellow in Quebec who transformed his barn. He had an old barn and he turned that into a meeting room where the church meets in Northern Quebec.

3 Things to Start a House Church

So today, as it was in the first century, you really need only three three things to start a house church.

1. Bible

The first thing you need is a Bible. Paul says in Romans 1:16 that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. So the important thing, of course is, you know, the winning of souls, the preaching of the gospel to win souls to Christ. And Paul says that the gospel found in the Bible, of course, that's the power of God unto salvation. So you need that and you need also instructions that the Bible provides for how to be a Christian.

And in II Timothy 3:16, Paul says that:

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

In other words, you need the Bible because the Bible provides the instructions on how to live the Christian life, how to worship, how to resolve issues and problems. It's your guidebook for how to run, operate and function as a church, whether it's in your house or in your garage no matter, even in an open field, the Bible gives you instructions on how to conduct a church.

2. Someone to Teach / Preach

The second thing that you need is somebody that will actually preach the gospel and teach the scriptures accurately.

14How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!" 16However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- Romans 10:14-17

And so you need the Bible in order to have the information and the resources and the gospel itself and you need somebody that's going to go out and actually preach the gospel and teach people accurately from the scripture.

Remember what Paul says here. He says, faith comes from hearing and hearing the words of Christ. Faith doesn't come from permission from on high or the stamp of approval from church leaders or organizers. Faith, he says, comes from hearing the words of Christ and the words of Christ being preached by someone who knows the gospel.

Well, you don't have to be in a building. You don't have to be in a recognized organization from that. Anybody can do that. Anyone can do that from anywhere. Preaching the gospel is preaching the gospel whether you're doing it from a million dollar pulpit in a $50 million building or if you're sitting at a kitchen table with nine people sitting around listening to what you are saying.

The important thing is that you have the gospel and you have someone who is there teaching it and preaching it and explaining it to the people. So you need the Bible. You need someone who's ready to preach it.

3. Repentant Believers

Thirdly, you need repentant believers who are baptized for the forgiveness of sins and who receive the Holy spirit and who then meet in order to worship God. Another key scripture, again, that I think is worth reading.

37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
- Acts 2:37-42

So here we see the individuals who heard the gospel being preached by Peter respond to the gospel by being baptized. And then Luke writes that these very same people are now beginning to meet together to do what? They're meeting together to pray, to take the communion, to share their lives together, to worship God and also to receive teaching from the apostles.

It doesn't say anywhere that someone had to give them permission in order to meet as a group. And where did they meet? Well, they met in the area of the temple. And eventually if you keep reading the book of Acts, you'll find out that they met in homes, primarily as small house churches.

So this is how the first New Testament church was started and how every other New Testament church can be started even today. It's not as if that method is no longer viable today.

So is it possible and is it permissible to start a church in your house? The answer to that is yes.

More importantly, not my answer to that, but the scripture's answer to that question is yes, of course. How do we know that? Because the very first churches were started as house churches.

So you begin preaching the gospel from the Bible. You begin worshiping and taking the communion with those who are converted and you have therefore the beginnings of a house church.

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