We belong to a church called the Community of Christ which is a worldwide organization. We have a number of groups in the UK, one of which is us, the Leeds House Church.
I don't want to go into minute detail about our beliefs. I'm just going to quote what our church sees as its purpose (I think the 'in' phrase is 'Mission Statement'!). It is:-
To proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope love and peace.
And our hope is that anyone sharing with us will find joy, hope, love and peace through Jesus.
Our group does not meet in a traditional church building, instead we meet in a home. We like to think that house churches work on the principle of 'small is beautiful'. (That's what my wife tells me as she is several inches shorter than me!!).
House Churches are not meant to replace traditional congregations, but to provide an opportunity for those who prefer to share together in a smaller more informal group.
We try to make our meetings informal. As our group ranges from young adults to pensioners, we try to make sure everyone is involved.
We like our meetings to be interactive and give everyone a chance to participate. The starting point may be based on a scripture, on a reading, or even on a game we may have included. It usually includes time for discussion and other interactive activities. We sometimes finish up on totally unrelated issues, or do something totally unplanned, but that's all part of the fun of small informal house churches.
What are some of the advantages of house churches? Well this isn't the result of some scientific survey or something taken out of a text book. This is just how we feel after a few years of being a house church.
One of the great things about house churches is that ministry is not all one way. It's much easier for members to participate in a small group, in fact we encourage participation. So its quite acceptable for anyone to chip in and add their own thoughts or to ask for clarification. This will be more challenging for the leader, but at least you know everyone is not falling asleep. Because everyone shares, the result is much more fulfilling for both leader and members.
A home creates a totally different atmosphere for worship and study. People are more relaxed and are likely to be more open. You more naturally join in when its a home situation instead of the 'speak and sing in the right place' culture of a traditional church. It also seems to be much easier to be flexible. So you can wait ten minutes if you know someone will be slightly delayed, or you can meet on a Friday instead of a Sunday one week if its more convenient, or you can have an unscheduled prayer if someone has a problem, or you can eat sticky cakes during Bible study just because you feel like it.
In most church services you sit looking at the back of someone's head for an hour which doesn't exactly help develop close relationships. A smaller group meeting in a home gives the opportunity to share in closer supportive relationships. It still needs group commitment to be open and caring for this to work. But if you can manage this, it is great to be part of a group where you feel you can be open without the risk of disapproval or ridicule. It's in that sort of group that you can really develop your spiritual life. Why don't you try it?