Why We Decided To Meet With Believers Before They Joined Our House Church
A few years into our journey as a house church, I started to notice that the idea of house churches was intriguing to other believers that were part of a traditional congregation. We’d have existing believers join our house church for a short season, only to disappear without explanation. And because of our presence on Facebook or a mutual relationship in our city, from time to time we’d have people we’d never met wanting to join our church.
So after this happened a few times, we began to re-evaluate how we invited already existing believers into our context. Prior to this point, whoever wanted to come just came. But it became fairly obvious that just letting whoever wanted to show up come was unhelpful to both our existing house church and to the people wanting to come.
Why? It boiled down to relationship. In contrast to a traditional, larger congregation our house church was being built on relationship. It was increasingly odd the deeper those connections became to have someone most or all of us had never met plop down in the middle of our house church and expect them to connect immediately the way everyone else did.
Also, many of our friends from traditional churches were coming from a church that was built around meetings, not relationships. Because of this, they would come for the meeting and leave as soon as the meeting was over. Often we wouldn’t see them until the next gathering of the church. And after awhile, it became clear that we weren’t helping those joining us, either.
So, the next time that someone asked to join our house church, instead of giving them our address and next meeting time, we began to invite them over (or out) for lunch or coffee. We’d hear their story. We’d share ours. Sometimes these meetings became a time to share the gospel with people, like the time a Muslim woman began asking to join us. Other times, these meetings became a chance to encourage existing believers to start house churches of their own. And what we began to realize is that relationship wasn’t just what our churches were built on, they actually needed to become the doorway into our churches as well.
Making this change helped everyone. Those who chose to join us after meeting with someone from our house church inevitably understood a bit better why we were meeting as a house church and they joined having already built the beginning of a relationship with others in our midst. It was a win for everyone.
There were also some other benefits to this, which I’ll explain a bit more on tomorrow…