Common Questions From First-Time Visitors
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Common Questions From First-Time Visitors
Q1. What is the outline of an average Sunday morning house church gathering?
Most of our churches start with open fellowship time from 10:00-10:30 am. At 10:30 the church meeting is commenced is directed by a printed Order of Worship that walks the congregation through a biblical outline for a church gathering. The elder(s) assign each part of the liturgy to various men in the congregation except for the sermon and communion. The formal gathering is typically finished by noon which begins the informal fellowship meal (potluck) that continues as late as 1:30-3:00 pm.
Q2. How do your house churches and their pastors remain accountable to sound doctrine and theology?
Every house church in our network is pastored by at least one graduate of Reformation Seminary. These are 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 qualified elders. Both the Seminary and Reformation Fellowship hold to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Every pastor in the R.F. network has had their theology, character, and family life reviewed prior to ordination. All Reformation Fellowship pastors are also required to reaffirm the 1689 L.B.C.F. and our Doctrines and Convictions annually. In addition, pastors are reviewed every year (including local church references) by a Reformation Fellowship representative. Because house churches are often small, we do not require that each house church has more than one elder. That said, we do strongly encourage our pastors to quickly raise up qualified and called men to achieve a plurality of elders (and deacons) as soon as possible.
Q3. How are people invited to visit or join a house church?
Because a house church is held at a private location in a member’s personal home, guests primarily visit through either contacting the pastor through our website or by a personal relationship with someone in the church. That said, we believe the church is primarily a gathering of Christians for the edification of the saints. For this reason and the safety of our house churches (which are located in both peaceful and hostile areas), we do not encourage the public invitation of unknown non-believers. That said, if a non-believer has an existing relationship with a member of the church and they request to visit the church, we welcome these visitors. Guests typically visit for up to 4-6 weeks before they are asked to prayerfully determine if they are to become members or move on to another assembly.
Q4. Where do the kids go during your house church gatherings?
We believe age-segregated ministries (kids church or Sunday school) are non-sinful but extra-biblical practices not directed in Scripture. In fact, we see the Bible assumes (Eph. 6:1; Joel 2:15-16; 2 Chron. 20:13; Joshua 8:35) that children are in the gathering where the Scriptures (or epistles) were read aloud. For that reason, children are to join their parents in the congregation. Additionally, our elders aim to include moments in their preaching and teaching that can be applied to children and young people. Yes, parents of young children and babies may have to step into another room to soothe or correct a child, but our congregations love children and are patient with their noises.
Q5. How does giving or tithing work in a house church?
As with any biblical church, members are expected to support the local ministry’s financial needs. First, we believe the Old Testament practice of tithing has been replaced by the New Testament command for giving. Second, each of our pastors are bi-vocational. That is, they do not rely on church giving as their sole source of income. Having said that, church members are still to seek the Lord in determining how much to give to their pastor for the weekly shepherding work he performs (sermon preparation, counseling, one-on-one discipleship, hosting, emergency calls, etc.). In addition, the elder(s) and deacon(s) of the church are responsible to manage the minimal costs for practical items like hymnals, chairs, and other hosting-related expenses. In summary, the expenses of a house church are dramatically reduced in comparison to the traditional model. For that reason, members are able to reinvest their giving into supporting the needs of other church members, the poor, or faithful Christian ministries.
Q6. What happens when a house church gets too big?
Unlike the traditional church model, our objective is not to grow into a building. Our objective is to raise up more qualified church planting pastors (via Reformation Seminary) to multiply into another house church. This typically occurs between 10-15 families. For example, an existing elder or elder-in-training (e.g. a seminary student) will be sent off from the church with 4-5 of the existing families. This new house church forms the second gathering in what we call a parish. A parish can hold up to three Reformation Fellowship house churches (hence our logo with three doors). These churches are independent assemblies with their own elders, deacons, giving, etc. but are associated with one another through their parish. This format permits further local accountability (beyond network accountability) and allows the churches within a particular parish to gather corporately for events, classes, or outreach a few times per year.
Q7. Houses churches seem exclusive. How does a house church handle evangelism and outreach?
Our house churches are Great Commission focused and committed to active and regular local evangelism and outreach. Namely, our pastors are passionate about the Gospel and are encouraged to train members to faithfully present the Good News.
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