Our house church gatherings are at the heart of who we are as a church. Church to us is less of an institution than it is a web of relationships formed around a common purpose. Church isn’t a place we go to; it’s a community to which we belong. The way of Jesus is a way of life that is learned, modeled and lived out relationally.
This conviction about the nature of church is why we’re starting with house church ministry and not with a super-sized worship gathering. It’s why the worship gathering, even after it’s started, will be second (or fifth) place in importance. In fact, it will probably not take place weekly, especially in the early stages.
House church gatherings of 10-20 people are and will always be the central venue for life in the Storyline Community. They most fully embody the chief values of our community—dependence on God, mission, life change and genuine relationships.
To be honest, we use the term “house church” for lack of better words. Some call it organic church; others call it simple church; others call it cell church (as in a smaller part of something larger).
One thing I do like about the phrase is that “church” is part of it. House churches are not an appendage ministry for us among other ministries; house churches are the essence of who we are as a church—so much so that I would rather describe Storyline Christian Community as a network of house churches rather than just a church (though the latter is certainly still true).
Our hope and plan is that our ministry is reproductive: as followers of Jesus help to create other followers of Jesus, house churches will start other house churches, and Storyline will start other churches.
So what do our house church gatherings look like?
We gather for meals and share life. We share communion in the context of our meals. We joke around. We tell stories. We sing together. We confess our struggles to each other.
We have conversations about Scripture, current events, music, God, food, spirituality—things that really matter to us. We share our resources to help the poor and connect to those who are far from God.
We throw good parties. We welcome new people of all kinds into our midst. We participate in justice projects in the community. We pray for each other, our friends and our city.
It’s a little reminiscent of the early church (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35)—not only in the forms and activities, but also in its potential to turn the world upside down.