The Home Church

The first home church started in the very first home when God met with Adam and Eve in their Eden home in the cool of the evening. They met together and our first parents enjoyed fellowship and instruction from the Creator. The apostolic church first assembled in the upper room. In fact the Greek word that is translated as 'church' in the Scriptures simply means assembly or gathering. It doesn't even imply a building. An assembly or gathering can happen anywhere.

During the time of the apostles, there were no established Christian buildings for worship gatherings. In Acts 16 we find the apostle Paul and others gathered for worship by the river. Many of the brethren located in different parts of the world were few in number and it was convenient for them to open their homes to the brethren for the worship of God.

“The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” (1 Corinthians 16:19)

“Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the which is in his house.” (Colossians 4:15)

“And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:” (Philemon 1:2)

What is the real purpose of church? Is it just a social place we go to or is it about something else altogether? What makes it meaningful?

The presence of God - that is what church is meant to be about. The absence of the divine presence makes church a meaningless human ritual no matter how grand the building is or how large the crowd.

God must be worshipped in accordance to His guidelines. He is not fooled by sinful heart attitudes veiled by sanctimonious exteriors. We may view with some pity those who think they can move their god around at will. But why do we think that God is obliged to come to us on our terms? Can humans really ignore Scripture and expect to find nourishment for the soul? Amos 5:21-24. It is time to seek God with all our hearts, to pray on our knees and search His word without reference to human tradition. The journey may be lonely but don’t be discouraged. God has promised that our searching will not be futile. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Guidelines for Home-Churching

Order and Structure is Necessary

God is a God of order. This is so clearly seen in the sanctuary services. Everything had it’s place and order. Every event in the services had it’s specified time, everyone had their specified job description. It is amazing to see the detailed instruction that God gave to his servant Moses regarding his sanctuary and its services. God must have care for details, one can also plainly see it in his creation.

Speaking of Aaron and his line regarding his job upon an appointed time, the Lord says, “Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant” (Leviticus 24:8). The levites had a solemn job, they were not to go about it in a careless, disorderly manner. All that they did reflected upon the God they served.

In the same manner today when we come together for a solemn convocation, for a worship service, we must remember that we are serving a God of order. The apostle Paul exhorts all who claim to be God’s people, “Let all things be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).”

Below are some guidelines fitted for a small group desiring to worship God in the spirit and in the truth, which have proved to be helpful to many home-churching families and friends.

Set an appointed time for your worship service

When worshiping at home it is easy to become distracted by the familiarity of our surroundings. Therefore it is important to have a set time that will mark the beginning of your worship service, and/or of the different phases of your which you and your group will regularly keep.

Plan for the spiritual meals

It is helpful to have a plan made for each Sabbath a head of time. In this plan the speaker is assigned, also the one who will be giving the children’s story, and the special music if there be any. The more thought and care given to the service, the richer the experience.

Be thoughtful of your speech

During worship services, be very thoughtful that common speech, which would drive away the holy angels present or grieve God’s spirit, does not find a place among the sacred time consecrated to heavenly things.

Meeting the needs of all

It is important to try to meet the needs of all ages. Allow time for a children’s story in the service, where they can hear simple lessons of true Christianity. Some churches take a short walk through nature between the Sabbath school and the Divine portion of the service, this is helpful for the young, but also for all ages, including the old.

Remember the purpose for a church

Every true Christian has a deep love for truth and has an overwhelming desire to share the truth with others. Remember that the purpose for the Church is to be a light in darkness, to be a witness of the truth. Look for opportunities to share with your neighbors and community. Plan home missionary endeavors with your home church.

Organization is paramount as the church grows

As a small group, the need to hire a pastor or other workers is not necessary or monetarily possible. But, there should still be an elder recognized among the believers and the need for organization should not be neglected in the future or in circumstances that call for it. We must never forget that organization is an effectual tool by which the gospel is spread to the world. An organization therefore is not the church itself, but the order and methods it uses to accomplish its purposes.

Have a box for tithes and offerings

The Lord is the owner of all things. Tithes and offerings are reminders that we are simply stewards of all that we have and that the Lord has required these of us for the purpose of supporting his workers and work. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

Testimony Regarding Organization From the General Conference Daily Bulletin

(All emphasis supplied)

"It is nearly forty years since organization was introduced among us as a people. I was one of the number who had an experience in establishing it from the first. I know the difficulties that had to be met, the evils which it was designed to correct, and I have watched its influence in connection with the growth of the cause. At an early stage in the work, God gave us special light upon this point; and this light, together with the lessons that experience has taught us, should be carefully considered. {GCDB, January 29, 1893 par. 2}

"From the first our work was aggressive. Our numbers were few, and mostly from the poorer class. Our views were almost unknown to the world. We had no houses of worship, but few publications, and very limited facilities for carrying forward our work. The sheep were scattered in the highways and byways, in cities, in towns, in forests. The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus was our message. {GCDB, January 29, 1893 par. 3}

“Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” {GCDB, January 29, 1893 par. 4}

"Our numbers gradually increased. The seed that was sown was watered of God, and he gave the increase. At first we assembled for worship, and presented the truth to those who would come to hear, in private houses, in large kitchens, in barns, in groves, and in school houses; but it was not long before we were able to build humble houses of worship. As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization, there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable. {GCDB, January 29, 1893 par. 5}

"Yet there was strong feeling against it among our people. The First-day Adventists were opposed to organization, and most of the Seventh-day Adventists entertained the same ideas. We sought the Lord with earnest prayer that we might understand his will, and light was given by his Spirit, that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church, that organization was essential. System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law of God's people on the earth. {GCDB, January 29, 1893 par. 6}

We had a hard struggle

We had a hard struggle in establishing organization. Notwithstanding that the Lord gave testimony after testimony upon this point, the opposition was strong, and it had to be met again and again. But we knew that the Lord God of Israel was leading us, and guiding by his providence. We engaged in the work of organization, and marked prosperity attending this advance movement. As the development of the work called us to engage in new enterprises, we were prepared to enter upon them. The Lord directed our minds to the importance of educational work. We saw the need of schools that our children might receive instruction, free from the errors of false philosophy, that their training might be in harmony with the principles of the word of God. The need of health institutions had been urged upon us, both for the help and instruction of our own people and as a means of blessing and enlightenment of others. This enterprise also was carried forward. All this was missionary work of the highest order. Our work was not sustained by large gifts and legacies: for we have few wealthy men among us. What is the secret of our prosperity? We have moved under the order of the Captain of our salvation. God has blessed our united efforts. The truth has spread and flourished. Institutions have multiplied. The mustard seed has grown to a great tree. The system of organization has proved a grand success. Systematic benevolence was entered into according to the Bible plan. The body "has been complicated by that which every joint supplieth." As we have advanced, our system of organization has still proved effectual … {GCDB, January 29, 1893 par. 1}

Comments from Home-churching People

From Australia

For our weekly worship time, we dress in worship clothes. This means respectful and tidy. It doesn’t mean any kind of uniform, but the point is, we wouldn’t go to meet anyone official like the queen or the prime minister wearing beach clothes. What about God? God is greater than all human dignitaries.

We gather at a set time because even though our worship takes place in our home, we take it seriously. Otherwise it will degenerate to a non-happening. We aren’t rigid about exact time or how long but we do have structured worship time.

We sing hymns or Scripture songs. When the children were younger, these also included special child favourites. We sing to live piano music because we have one and we can play it! There is no set number we sing.

We kneel down to pray. Sometimes one person prays. Sometimes it is more. We don’t read prayers. The prayers are expressions from the heart to God. They are not sermonettes for the listeners!

Then we will read together, study the Bible together or occasionally listen to an audio study. There is freedom to comment, to question or seek clarification from God or each other.

We pray when we are done. Frequently there are a number of voluntary prayers. Sometimes we choose to sing again.

From the USA

Each Friday evening we are ready to open the Sabbath with a small worship service. We are dressed nicely and neatly. We sing a few hymns, have a prayer, open the word of God to read and discuss.

On Sabbath day we tune in to the live church services made available online or through the phone by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, and Pacific Virtual Fellowship. This is a good way to be acquainted with fellow believers scattered across the country and sometimes throughout the world. It makes us aware of any needs that others may have in the work, and connects our family to God’s appointed workers in this movement.