What is a “Home Church”? And how is it different than a small group?

First – it’s all in your head. What we mean by that is Home Church is a mindset and a conviction that WE are the church.  It’s not any more or less than the people right in this room. Members of a small group or life group are usually committed to each other in fellowship and study of the Bible, but not in all aspects of what the church is.  They are “part” of the church – the bigger body takes care of the other aspects of being the church like worship, youth, children, outreach, and missions.  Not so with the Home Church – their calling includes all of the above as they do life and mission together as the church. This kind of mindset makes a huge difference!

A Home Church is a community of people who live as a family on mission.  The Lord wants His people to be wherever people live – following Him into people’s lives. Home Churches are powered by relationships and the presence of God.  Our commitment and joy is leading people into an authentic relationship with Jesus, and the experience of real community.  We are a group of people who love Jesus, and do life and mission together, which means loving God, loving people, and making disciples – and that’s all we do!  We will not be distracted with building facilities and programs, or planning events.  Home Churches keep life simple, and available.

Typical Characteristics…

  • A HC usually consists of anywhere from 4 to 30 persons who get together frequently throughout the whole year (ie. Not just on Sundays, and No shut down for summer)
  • HCs do not have to meet in homes – they can gather and scatter to parks, pubs, coffee shops, or anywhere people are.
  • A HC is always open to new people – a closed HC isn’t a real HC
  • A HC will reflect the community it serves – reaching people from any nation and generation, making it easily multi-ethnic and intergenerational
  • All members of a HC are encouraged to be active participants, using the gifts and talents the Lord has provided.  Everyone has a place and a role in the HC.
  • The intention of the HC is to grow through people – people being introduced to Christ and discipled, and then called of God to be disciple-makers.


What happens at a HC gathering?

The HC gathering is an informal one, and may be different from week to week. Typically the HC gathering will engage the activities of the first HCs identified in Acts 2:42 – which are teaching, fellowship, worship, and prayer.  So basically, we meet as friends and families to worship the Lord, pray for one another and the people in our lives, learn together, and then eat – there is always food.  Each HC seeks the Lord concerning their unique ways of doing this.  Sometimes we will only celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or plan the whole time focused on the kids, or get out and help a family in need.  The idea is to be free and flexible to do what the Lord is moving us to do. One value we try to keep in front of us at all times is to be missional, even in our regular gatherings.  We want to be externally focused in what we learn, what we pray about, and what we do.


How is the teaching handled at HC?

The Bible teaching component can be delivered in several different forms.  One HC may show a DVD segment (usually about 15-20 minutes) and then discuss/apply it.  In another HC, the leader or group members may do the Bible teaching, and then lead into a time of interaction and application. Whatever form it takes, we believe the Holy Spirit can speak through anyone at any time about anything. So we are careful to prepare, but then listen for the voice of God to speak to and through our group. The Regional Leader is available to assist each HC by suggesting and providing teaching resources.  The Regional Leader is also diligent to be aware of what is being taught in the HCs, and respond to any concerns raised.


What happens with the kids at HC?

This is usually one of the first questions asked, and rightly so, because our children are so important to us.  Although the children’s ministry programs in conventional churches are an excellent way to teach and engage children in the ways of the Lord, we believe the church should look like a family to our children – like in the Hebrew tradition.

Wouldn’t it be awesome for our kids to grow up with the experience and understanding that church is family – raised by many aunts and uncles who worship, pray, do life and mission with them?  We know little ones can be disruptive and noisy, but that’s life, and they are a part of it.  If you had some friends over for coffee or dinner, you wouldn’t hire someone to do a program for the children.  Why would we do that for church?

Usually one of the questions and concerns is that the children are learning properly.  This is one of the reasons why we want them to be part of the HC just like anyone else.  They may come in and out a few hundred times, but we believe they are learning.  Having said that, some HCs will rotate people to care for the kids and do something special for them during part of the gathering.  Others will plan a “kids church” once a month when the focus is on the children, even though the kids are a big part of it every time.

Our desire is that every child is valued, protected (“Plan to Protect”), and raised up in love.  We believe a HC, with mom and/or dad right there, and with adopted aunts and uncles and cousins doing life with them and caring for them is a great environment for this to happen.


How do new HCs start?

As disciples are made, new Home Churches will start. HCs will multiply out of their sense of mission, and calling of Jesus. We trust that God will call and prepare people out of the existing HCs to go plant a new church in their neighborhood. We also believe that God will bring whole groups of people to partner with us, and a new HC will start.  Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will call people to go into a region or neighbourhood or people group to start making disciples and new churches.  The new church will then be cared for and resourced by the Regional Leaders of The Edge, by other HCs, and by the HC leaders that birthed it.

The key to Home Church multiplication is to focus on the work of the Holy Spirit, and the multiplication of disciples.  What is then created over time is a disciple-making movement, as Jesus started in the beginning of the church.


What about HC leadership?

Each Home Church usually has people who are “natural” leaders.  We believe in the five-fold ministry of leaders outlined in Ephesians 4:11 – apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, and teacher.  Ideally we would like to ask the Lord for all of these ministries in each HC, but we believe every HC has at least a couple of them.

Typically, a HC is led by the HC Leaders (usually a couple), by the Co-leader(s) or Apprentice leaders, and by the hosts.  This makes up the HC Leadership Team. While each Home Church will usually have people serving in these roles, it is important to create an environment where all members of the HC are active participants.  Making disciples is our primary objective, and that is a calling Jesus has given to all of us, which means we all have an important role to play.

Our process for developing leaders is the same process as making disciples.  If we are making disciples, we will be developing leaders.  New HC leaders are identified as they are being discipled. Being available to guide and support this process is the main job of the Regional Leaders of the Edge.  They meet regularly with leaders for encouragement, guidance, prayer, and vision casting.  These meetings are usually over coffee or lunch and very relational rather than mechanical.  All the leaders in a region are also invited by the Regional Leader to gather regularly to learn from each other, as well as pray for each other.

Home Church Leaders:  A Home Church leader is someone who loves God, loves people, and disciples others as Jesus did. They prayerfully facilitate the HC gatherings, involving other group members to help lead the various components. They invest their time and energy to develop a culture and environment where members grow into fully devoted followers of Christ, and work together to extend the Kingdom of God into the community.

Apprentice  or Co-Leaders: This is a person who assists the HC leaders.  A co-leader may sense a call from God to plant and lead a Home Church in the future. They are affirmed by the members of the Home Church, and available to develop and hone their leadership and disciple-making skills under the care and preparation of the Home Church leader. They will also be resourced and supported by the Edge Regional Leader.

 Worship Leader: Not every HC will have a worship leader, but they are people who demonstrate the passion and ability to lead a small group of people into simple forms of worship.  Their focus will be on authenticity rather than professionalism. They will be given freedom to experiment with various forms and styles of prayer, praise, Scripture reading, Communion, singing, and whatever else leads the people of their HC into meaningful worship.

Hosts: A person/couple/family who desires to exercise their gifts of hospitality by opening their home to a Home Church as the place for regular gatherings.  This will usually mean arranging food/refreshment plans with the members, having a large enough room for everyone, and being comfortable with strangers.  These are people who love to make others feel welcome.

Note: The homes of new believers make great places to start new Home Churches, because their circle of friends will most likely include those who have not experienced life in Jesus yet.