Seven years ago, my husband Jim and I started a house church with ten people. Today we have three healthy house churches. One multiplied from our house church, and we planted a house church in Hays, Kansas. Two of these house churches are ready to multiply again.
When our first house church began, the attendance really fluctuated. One Sunday we would have ten, the next week maybe four to six—and fear would set in. My husband and I would question, “Did we really hear God call us to do this?” So back to the prayer closet we would go.
The Lord told us to stop focusing on numbers and become involved in the lives of the people who were attending and see them healed and set free to help others. When we started interceding before the Lord and doing spiritual warfare against the enemy, people’s hearts were healed and set free. When someone feels the love of Jesus, gets set free and emotionally healed, they tell people, and that draws more people.
My husband and I have been a part of the DOVE family for almost twenty years. In 1995, Jim and I planted one of the first cell-based DOVE churches in the USA outside of Pennsylvania. We started with about twenty-five people. Those were exciting years. Looking back, we probably had more zeal than wisdom. Jim has a pastoral gift. Wherever he is, the love of Jesus is there. But after ten years, Jim felt burned out. He didn’t see people getting set free, and that burdened him. We attended another church for more than a year, but kept our relationship with the DOVE family. Larry Kreider encouraged us to start a house church, this time in Kansas City, where we had moved. Larry also gave us a copy of his book Starting a House Church.
At first, I resisted. All I saw was too much work. We have two biological children, three adopted children and twelve grandchildren. I also struggled with the need to give up some things—such as our plan for retirement and traveling. But I recognized that anything in life worth having requires sacrifice. I sensed the Lord’s calling and also the faith that He would be there to build if we would follow Him. It sounded so easy; yet, a deeper revelation is that we only surrender to the degree we obey!
Jim also believed that when we started a house church, the Lord wanted us to change roles—I should become the senior elder and Jim would assist me. I wasn’t so sure he had heard that right. Some people resist the idea of women being senior elders. At the same time, Jim and I realized the importance of operating in our gifts and as a team. Leaders confirmed that I have an apostolic and teaching gift. Sometimes I found myself speaking so bluntly. I really need to let the Lord prune me to speak in love and concern for others, so as not to hurt them. We also realized some of Jim’s previous burnout was the result of feeling stressed from senior elder duties.
Walking in our gifting has helped our marriage, family and church. On Sunday mornings, Jim and I are a team. Jim is at the door greeting people, laughing and bringing the love of Jesus into the room, making sure all the people’s immediate needs are met. I am listening to the needs of the people and discerning how to train them to function in the Kingdom of God versus the kingdom of the world.
We are a church without walls and meet in houses—not a church building. When Jim and I caught a vision for establishing a church without walls, it completely changed our focus. Our house churches have become intensive care units to heal and free people.
We have learned, house church isn’t for everyone. I believe when leaders have a pure heart and clean hands and are confident in whom they belong to, God will create divine connections to build the church. People who have the power and authority of Christ in their lives are excited about sharing Jesus and their excitement is contagious.
Read Chapter 19. And the church grew here