At the Gathering By The Bay we are called to be a movement of home-based communities or “house churches.” It was over a decade ago that we became convinced that small, home-based communities were the most powerful way of being church together. They offered unparalleled opportunities for discipleship, relationship, and local community impact. It was shortly after that that God called us to this crazy faith adventure to start a whole new church based on house churches. So why exactly are we so positive about house churches? The following gives four of the biggest reasons.
First, house churches help us find love and friendship! In other words, house churches are naturally great at helping us develop authentic community. We all want love. And we all want good relationships. House churches are ideal venues that allow relationships to happen naturally – over meals, conversations, praying together, and just doing life together. Today, in the loneliness of the modern world, many are looking for places of authentic connection and honest friendship. House-churches help this happen in spades.
Second, house churches are the opposite of “organized religion.” For a lot of reasons, many people today are turned off by conventional institutions. There is a longing for something authentic… something real… something closer to the style of Jesus who simply hung out among the people and lived out the radical way of love. What could be more authentic than just hanging out at a friend’s house and getting to know Jesus? That is part of the beauty of house churches. They offer simple spirituality without the trappings of organized religion.
Third, house churches offer tremendous opportunities for spiritual fulfillment because “everyone gets to play.” One of the greatest blessings of house-churches is that of shared participation — everyone gets to DO something, whether it is leading worship, prayer, preparing meals, teaching, serving the poor, etc. Another word for this is discipleship – how we live out the radical way of Jesus together in this world. The Church of Jesus was never intended to be a spectator experience. Jesus wants all of us fully active in the way of love, which brings the greatest blessing to this world, and the greatest fulfillment to us.
Fourth, on a very practical level, house churches lower the overhead costs of “doing church” which frees up more resources for mission and helping our local communities. We have no argument with churches that have buildings and property. These things are sometimes necessary to fulfill mission. But the cost of buildings can also become a drag on the church’s ability to fulfill the mission of Jesus. The house church movement does not carry the burden and expense of buildings, hence we are free to put more money directly into the mission of Jesus!
There are many more reasons why we love house churches. But there is not space to share them all in this brief introduction. After more than a decade in house churches we are convinced now more than ever that they offer an incredibly powerful expression of the community of Jesus. If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact our lead pastor, David Gschwend at DaveG@GatheringByTheBay.org, or 831.431.0788.