This blog is the second in a four-part series about house churches. Check out last week’s blog here.
As we discovered last week, the church is not a building. Church is a gathering of believers in Jesus’ name to obey God’s Word, practicing baptism and communion to set the focus on the gospel.
Believers can find comfort in the fact that church is not confined to a building as governments are calling on churches to close in the face of a pandemic. Many churches are finding alternatives to meeting in a sanctuary, such as live streaming sermons.
Some congregations are choosing to host smaller versions of church in their homes—or house churches—whether by gathering a small group of people physically or via video conference. Whereas this is a relatively new concept for the American church, house churches are seen around the world, especially in countries were Christians are persecuted for their beliefs.
Many East-West missionaries are on the frontlines of building and multiplying disciples and house churches around the world in places where the gospel is not welcomed. East-West missionaries and national partners have planted more than 231,000 churches globally, and God has moved mightily in these small but devoted congregations.
There are numerous ways to conduct a house church. One method missionaries use globally to train disciples is called the three-thirds process. This method—which is ideal for small group settings—breaks up the church service into three parts to help guide members to care for each other, worship God, study His Word, and apply Scripture to their lives.
We will explore the first third of the method this week.
Three-thirds: Step one of three
The first portion of the three-thirds process, called the Look Back portion, includes a time of worship and accountability for church members. This portion is made up of four components:
- Pastoral care: This is the opportune time for members to ask each other, “How are you doing?” Each person can share the highs and lows of the week, and the group can pray for each other.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:1
- Worship: Take time to worship God together either by singing songs or reading a psalm.
“… speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord … .” -Ephesians 5:1
- Accountability: Accountability should celebrate obedience and lovingly rebuke sin. Members can ask each other how they have obeyed God’s Word this week or whether anyone needs to confess sin.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” -Hebrews 3:1
- Vision: This time is used to remind the church body of each individual’s identity in Christ and the mission at hand. Read stories from the Bible to encourage believers to continue the Great Commission. This time can also be used to pray for anyone who does not know Jesus.
“Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” -2 Corinthians 4:1
This first portion of the three-thirds process—caring for each other, worshipping, holding each other accountable, and casting vision—helps house church members align their heart’s with God and set the tone for the rest of the service.
Next week, we will explore the next step of the three-thirds process for house churches and see how to use this method to glorify God in the midst of the current global health crisis.