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What is a "House Church" or Home Bible Study Group ?

Acts 2:41-42 (KJV) 
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: 
and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 
{42} And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine 
and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 

Dear Friends in Christ,

What is a "house church" or a small group Bible study? 

It is simply a group of like-minded believers in the Lord Jesus Christ meeting in somebody's home or other suitable place to study the Word and bring praises to the Lord Jesus together. 

I have personally seen two reasons for starting such small groups, but there are many more I am sure.. 

One is, if there is no suitable "organized church" in the region. This can be due to being in a remote location where no church exists, or if worshipping Christ in public is illegal, as it is in some countries.

The other reason is to bring a "personal touch" to the ministry of a very large church, where people can remain unknown and undiscipled, and their spiritual and personal needs are not being met. I feel that both reasons are valid.

Such groups can be started either by word of mouth, simply hanging up a sheet of paper on a public bulletin board, advertising for anyone interested in studying the Bible to call a certain phone number...the methods are endless. 

And there must be PRAYER, PRAYER, PRAYER. Since we know that no-one comes to Christ without the Holy Spirit drawing them, we need to ask God to bring to us the people who are serious about "going deeper" in their walk with Jesus with more than just a "Sunday-go-to-meetin' " kind of mentality. If there are more than one of the inner circle of leaders, these should meet together for prayer often during the week to bathe the ministry in prayer from top to bottom.

What goes on in this kind of a meeting?

I have seen two main types of these meetings, but there can be infinite variety and I would not be dogmatic about it. These types differ in the EMPHASIS of the meeting, either for mostly Worship and singing, or mostly for Bible study and only a little singing. Both are fine, and anything in-between is fine too. As long as the focus is on Jesus Christ, His Word, and His leading, you will be fine.

Here are some suggestions for what I have seen work in a House Church or small group Bible Study...

Call the people together that want to participate in the Bible Study. Pick out one certain night during the week which is best for most of the people, and always meet on the same night every week at the same time of day or night.

You may start the evening out with singing, people bringing guitars, keyboards, drums, tamborines, other instruments, some may want to  playing a special music song or hymn, but have a group sing-along for everyone to participate too...of favorite christian songs. Make it a time of praise and celebration to the Lord.

After the singing you can have a time of prayer to calm everybody down and prepare for the time of study to come. Pray for the sick, pray for God to raise up a leader in His good timing, pray for the effectiveness of the Word and the study, pray for each other, for the church and missionaries.

Then go into the actual Bible study time. One person should be designated to lead the study each week...give him/her a week in advance to prepare. Let each one share the leadership on a rotating basis...a different person every week. 

Take one book of the Bible, a short one, like First Timothy, or First John, Philippians, you choose...and work through the book chapter by chapter, or a few verses at a time...each leader taking a paragraph, about one third of the chapter or so...whenever the text changes to a new subject.... use other reference helps like study Bibles, Bible dictionaries., concordances, topical Bibles...let each person take responisbility for bringing some information from one of the Bible references and contributing to the discussion. Require that people prepare beforehand before coming to the study, especially the leader for the night. The more individual preparation, the better the study will be.

Dont rush through the scriptures. If you only discuss one topic or one verse in one night, that's ok. Just let the Holy Spirit be in charge and guide the evening along. Encourage each person to contribute something to the discussion, and don't let one or a few dominate the whole evening, unless you perceive that this person is being raised up to be a leader. Be sensitive to the shy persons, that their contributions be honored with equal weight as those of the more outgoing.

 You can meet in the home of a volunteer family, or in the church basement, or a community hall. After the singing, prayer and the study, you can have a time of refreshments and fellowship. Somebody (maybe more than one) can volunteer to bring a treat of some kind, cookies, popcorn balls, whatever, and pop or punch  or kool aid...let it be a free time of fellowship and enjoyment of the Lord and each other.

Then all hold hands in a big circle and do a closing prayer..either one person or each person one phrase...and maybe one chorus of a favorite hymn with just the voices...the leader gives a blessing that's it. And dont forget the clean-up duties..if everyone helps out the job will go quickly.

I was in a group that did all of these things in one night and it was awesome.. there was no pastor present, and as a matter of fact, this group turned into a new church in the small town that we lived.

Sooner or later, there may be some ministering to people after the group, like during the week or by phone or over coffee or lunch someplace.. Be prepared for this, as this is an opportunity for some one-on-one discipling. It is always a good idea for men to minister to men and women to women...for obvious reasons. 

As time goes on and effectiveness becomes apparent, Satan may try to introduce problems into the group. This may take the form of problem  people who want to introduce heresies, or cliques, or gossip...just like in a BIG church. It is for this reason that lots of prayer be raised to the Lord for His mercy in purifying the group and keeping its focus on Christ. 

But again, numbers are not important...commitment to Christ is all-important. Those who leave after some degree of persecution or discipline were probably not really committed to Christ in the first place. Their reason for being in your group may have been social or cultural or who-knows-what...but the bright light of persecution always tends to scare off the uncommitted..that is why persecution is important.

As far as content of your meeting, center your meeting on the person of Jesus Christ. Worship HIm, read about Him, sing praises to Him, and focus on helping those that are truly interested in deepening their faith in Him, or coming to know Him for the first time. 

Let those that come know that you not running a christian dating service, if that is all they're interested in, although strong relationships among committed christians should not be discouraged. The focus of a group is to study the Bible and worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is where it should stay.

And be sensitive to The Holy Spirit's leading as to perhaps some kind of projects or activities your group may want to get into..such as street-corner or beach evangelism, or some project for the homeless, or orphans, or singing hymns at a nursing home...all kinds of ways that you can show Christ's love in a very practical way to those that need it. 

It has been my experience that Jesus would rather have a very small group of truly dedicated christians than a large group of wishy-washy ones... even if that group consists of only 2 or 3 persons. In China, where it is illegal to have a public church meeting, the christiains practice what may be called "potato-vine evangelism", meaning... I tell you, then you tell a friend, then the friend tells a friend..and so on, and so on...pretty soon you have a roomful. 

I hope this has been of some help to you. As has been stated earlier, "if you can't find a good church, START ONE. " There is really nothing holding you back. Think outside the box a little, and look at what the Holy Spirit did in the first century church. The Greek word for "the church" is "ecclesia", the called out ones. Perhaps God is calling you out of a dead church to start a new living church.  Or perhaps He has put you in a lonely place where your only choice is to start a church. In any case, be sensitive to the calling and purposes of God.

And God bless you, your family, and your Ministry for Jesus.

In bob......<><


2 Tim 2:1-4 (KJV) 
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
 {2} And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses,
 the same commit thou to faithful men, 
who shall be able to teach others also.

{3} Thou therefore endure hardness, 
as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 
{4} No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life;
that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Mat 28:18-20 (KJV) 
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, 
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 
{19} Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, 
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: 
and, lo, I am with you alway, 
even unto the end of the world. Amen.


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God Bless bob.......<><

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