The COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Christians and churches around the world wondering how they can continue to meet and fellowship as a body of believers while protecting the health of vulnerable members and staying compliant with local health advisories or quarantine restrictions around large group gatherings.
The good news is that followers of Jesus have been holding low-density meetings in small groups and in private homes since the beginning!
If your church is looking for simple, no-cost, and effective ways for members to continue connecting with pastors, leaders, and each other, here are a few, easy steps you can follow:
STEP 1: Watch this Video
This video demonstrates a simple, 3-step pattern that any group can use for a focused and effective time together. It covers prayer, reading the Bible, discussing God’s word, and how to apply what the Bible says to our everyday lives — all within 60-90 minutes.
STEP 2: Gather a Small Group
Invite a small group (6-8 or more people) from your church to meet in your house, in a park (if the weather is nice), a coffee house, or any other location where you feel comfortable gathering.
If there is a local quarantine or other restrictions that keep your small group from gathering in person, consider meeting as a household (family or roommates), or using a free / low-cost video chat (Apple Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc.).
STEP 3: Follow the 3-Step Pattern
When you meet for house church for the first time, have everyone watch the video above or just explain the easy 3-step pattern you will be using.
- Look Back: Review what you’ve done and God has done since last meeting or the last week.
- Look Up: Learn and discuss something from God’s word.
- Look Forward: Pray and plan on applying what you learned.
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Outline of 3/3 Meeting
LOOK BACK [1/3 of your time]
- Care and Prayer: Take time to have each person in your house church share something they are thankful for. Then each person should share something they are struggling with. Have the person to their right pray for them about the items they share. If any member is struggling with something that requires more attention, stay after to care for that person.
- Vision: Spend time singing together and tie the lyrics to the themes of loving God, loving others, sharing Jesus with others, starting new small groups, and helping others do the same. Alternatively people could share Bible passages that communicate these themes.
- Check-in: Have each person share how they did regarding the commitments they wrote down from the previous week:
- How have you obeyed what you have learned?
- Who have you trained in what you have learned?
- With whom have you shared your story or God’s story?
If the members of your home church forgot to follow through on a commitment or did not have the opportunity to do so, then those commitments from the prior week should be added to this week’s commitments. If someone simply refuses to obey something they clearly heard from God then it should be treated as a church discipline issue.
LOOK UP [1/3 of your time]
- Pray: Talk with God simply and briefly. Ask God to teach you this passage.
- Read and Discuss: Read this week’s passage. Discuss the following questions:
- What did you like about this Bible passage?
- What did you find challenging or hard to understand about this passage?
- Read this week’s passage again.
- What can we learn about people from this passage?
- What can we learn about God from this passage?
LOOK FORWARD [1/3 of your time]
- Obey. Train. Share.: Take at least five minutes in silent prayer. Have everyone in the small group pray for the Holy Spirit to show them how to answer these questions, then make commitments. Everyone should write the commitments down so they can pray for people knowledgeably and hold them accountable. They may not hear something related to every question every week. They should note if they share a response which they are not sure they heard from God, but they think may be a good idea since the accountability will be handled at a different level in that case.
Questions that keep people accountable:
- How will I apply and obey this Bible passage?
- Who will I train or share with about this passage?
- Who does God want me to share my testimony [story] and/or God’s story with this week?
- Practice: In groups of two or three, practice what you have committed to do in question 5, 6 or 7. For example, role-play a difficult conversation or facing a temptation; practice teaching today’s passage, or practice sharing the Gospel.
- Talk With God: In the same groups of two or three, pray for every church member individually. Ask God to prepare the hearts of the people who will be hearing about Jesus this week. Ask Him to give you the strength and wisdom to be obedient to your commitments. This is the conclusion of the meeting.
Additional Resources for ‘How to have Church at Home’
Follow these links for additional resources: