house2house 2006Don Fuller and I took a road trip to the national house church conference in St. Louis, August 25-27. Here are some notes from the conference. 

Friday Night

  • Luke 10:2 – How to pray incessantly for God to thrust workers into the harvest. How the workers are often found in the harvest, i.e. new converts become the workers teaching unbelievers.
  • Luke 10:3-4 – Take no coat, bag, food, etc. Eat what is put before you. Don’t stop along the way. Don’t go door to door.

Saturday Morning

  • Generous Giving – A major oversight of simple churches. Should look to extend their funds beyond local benevolent needs of church and friends. Become strategic in your giving and your growth of the church.  

Breakout Session – Mike Steele – Church as Family: A simple life in Christ

  • Takes 18-36 months to “achieve community” where being church is more than a meeting, it is a day-to-day experience, members commonly found in each others’ houses
  • Coaches are there to help over the rough spots, get new ideas, avoid heresies. Much like role of elders but without the abuses and unbiblical roles commonly played by denominational elders.
  • Too many fathers… In the same way that it isn’t good for a family household to have too many fathers, simple churches should not have too many fathers (leaders). It is better for the leaders to spread out into other simple churches. 
  • A simple church should have at least two core families (stable, relatively mature believers) but not more than four.

Breakout Session – John White – Simple Church vs. “Honey, I shrunk the church!”

  • Do nothing… Don’t come to a meeting with an agenda, listen to God and see what He wants done in the meeting
  • Church has to be more than the meeting time… Believers must eventually learn to live in community
  • Learn to be house church first with 1-2 others before trying to bring a lot of people in
  • The church should be thought of as family in the way we live, celebrate, grieve  
  • If we program the little church, it will become nothing more than a mini-big church, a program-based little church; books will come out with a formula for “40 days to a house church”
  • Jesus is present when you meet
  • Never do for church what it can do for itself. Let the believers read for themselves, pray for themselves, resolve questions of morality and sin for themselves. (The leader should not give the answers, but let the younger struggle and learn to do for themselves.)
  • Luke 10 person of peace probably looks very much like the elder described in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1. An apostle would be someone that goes around planting multiple house churches, called to a purpose.

Breakout Session – Bill Tenny-Brittian – Building Spirituality in the House

  • House churches must get past “talking about prayer” (i.e. don’t take a long list of prayer requests, just bring them during the prayer)
  • Practicing prayer
    • The call to prayer – informal – pray with them on the spot
    • The call to prayer – formal – strike the prayer gong to signal the beginning of prayer time
    • Imaging prayer
    • Conversational prayer
    • Prayer chair (think of Jesus sitting in prayer, brings more casual or personal language)
    • Fear of silence – let silence run for a while, wait for the Spirit to move, for believers to speak
    • Chair of Prayer – put person needing prayer in chair and other surround and pray over person
  • Build a conducive environment
    • Setting – candles, soft music
    • Christ candle
    • Symbols such as crosses
    • Communion
    • Laying on Hands – Anointing

Saturday Evening

  • Challenge to gain true racial diversity in your house church
  • Learning from other people groups what their cultural sensitivities are, learn how they suffer in our society
  • Black-white diversity is the most difficult

Sunday Morning

  • Releasing the women to serve, lead, participate
  • How house churches fail
    • “Looking back to Egypt” – those in house church longing for the programs, safety, familiarity of institutional church
    • Lacking A in DNA – Apostolic Intention – uncomfortable being around sinners or unchurched people
    • “Honey, I’ve shrunk the church” – carrying programs and format of big church into simple church… simple churches do big church very poorly and it shouldn’t be attempted
  • Video – Simple Church – What do you do?
    • Dealing with “consumer” mentality in current day church goers; helping institutional Christians shift gears into participatory meetings and church (“detoxing”)
    • Four key elements of simple church meetings
      • Meating – eating a meal together 
      • Sharing our journey with each other 
      • Learning the Word via dialog (question mark, candle, arrow)
      • Praying (talking to God) and Prophesying (God talking to the church)
    • What to do with kids?

Sunday Afternoon

  • Coaching networks – DAWN – Discipling a Whole Nation networks, other informal networks
  • Leadership within the simple church


  • Prayer room – Although I only spent 30-45 minutes in the prayer room, it was an amazing experience. The intensity, sincerity, desperation was palpable. Some brought needs, some praise, some read scripture, some sang, all in an attitude and posture of prayer. It was very moving
  • Hearing about God’s move in people’s life – Believers young and old, experienced and inexperienced in simple church were eager to share what God was doing in their lives. It was more spiritual than any conference that I’ve been to.


  • Singing/music – may have been too close to stage, but didn’t compare to other conference singing we’ve experienced
  • Inconsistency in the speakers and session content – as one of the speakers said, “we don’t do lecture too well as simple church people”