Hi everyone, just wondering if anyone has any godly advice regarding how to start a new fellowship. My husband and I have been in home groups for the last 12 years or so – our history prior to that had been 12 years in Pentecostal churches. The home groups all came to an end for various reasons: the first one ended because the host couple went back to a denominational church so that their children would have Christian friends to grow up with; while the last home group only lasted a couple of months as the host said her circumstances had changed and she couldn’t host them anymore. That was around December 2010. My hubby and I would happily host meetings in our home but we have 2 big-ish problems: we can only fit around 6 people in our front room comfortably as it’s so small (which isn’t a problem really unless 7 or more people wanted to come); and secondly we wouldn’t be able to sing worship songs as our upstairs neighbour plays his music extremely loud in order to drown out our singing!
I suppose the question I’m asking is this: should we go out and rent a room on a weekly or fortnightly basis (depending on what we can currently afford) – even though there might only be two or three of us there! Or should we wait until the Lord tells us to rent a room? Or what are the other alternatives?
There are plenty of born again Christians in our area, but many of them were involved in the Toronto nonsense and when we tried to point out the errors 12 years ago we were rebuked by them. We wouldn’t be accepted in those churches even if we chose to go. We are currently praying about whether to start attending another local AOG where we’re sure the pastor loves the Lord, but my hubby attended a few of the meetings last year and was a bit troubled by some of the things he heard – e.g. Christians aren’t allowed to listen to secular music, and they go prayer-walking in order to ‘claim the ground’, and people give suspicious visions which are accepted without question by the pastor. It’s possible that we can show grace and overlook these things, but the point about going to church is in order to encourage each other (1 Corin 14) - and we’re not convinced we’d be encouraged by listening to either milky sermons or unscriptural stuff.
Going back to starting a church, part of me thinks that if we don’t need to rent a room (i.e. if the number of people wanting to meet didn’t exceed the capacity of our front room), why rent one? But on the other hand, not many people today like going into the homes of people they don’t know. So if people did get saved as we go out witnessing, it’s perhaps more likely that they’d turn up for a meeting in a rented building, which is more public, rather than turn up for a meeting in a stranger’s home. But even if new converts were willing to meet up in our home, we still wouldn’t be able to worship the Lord in song because of our problem with the neighbour.
In the last 2 years my hubby and I have tried to make a point of going out witnessing on the streets on a fairly regular basis (sometimes with a microphone, on the approval of the council; or sometimes on a one-to-one basis with gospel tracts), and in the last year and a half or so 2 adults have made a commitment to Jesus. However, one lady didn’t want to give her phone number to us; and my hubby didn’t exchange contact numbers with the man. On another occasion 4 teenagers who went to a Church of England, but who had never heard the gospel there, also listened to the gospel and said they would go home and get right with the Lord. So, potentially the Lord may have saved 6 souls in the last year or so in our area, but at the time when these souls got saved we were attending a Pentecostal church (we had a go at going back into a denomination) but we didn’t feel comfortable directing these new souls to the church we went to, as we were still sounding out its doctrines, and we weren’t wholly comfortable with some of the things being taught.
Anyway, we’ve prepared ourselves to some extent by getting a Bible Basics study course together, based on Hebrews 6: 1-2: the foundations of the faith. So if we come across any new converts we’ll be able to ground them in the basics. But here’s the other problem, we don’t feel equipped or gifted to start a church. We’re comfortable with going out and witnessing and we’re comfortable and confident that we’re able to lay the foundations of the Christian faith in the life of new believers – but we don’t feel equipped to go out and ‘start a church’. We realise it’s not us who starts churches, it’s the Lord. But His people have to make a move in doing something, don’t they, before the Lord will do His bit? Are we supposed to just step out and do? E.g. if we continue going out to witness, should we rent a room anyway then if anyone gets saved we can direct them there? Obviously, if such a scenario got off the ground there’d have to be a man or group of men able to oversee right doctrine, but my hubby says he doesn’t feel gifted as a leader – even though a friend (a man) and myself see in him a basic ability to oversee in the sense that he’d provide everyone with the opportunity to contribute in meetings, and he’s capable of testing and addressing false doctrine if it arises – but I wouldn’t say he has the pastoral/shepherding gift.
Anyway, I think I ought to end this post and hope that someone who has perhaps walked this path before can offer any insight which we can’t currently see.
Best wishes in Him,