“I was a stranger and you invited me in.” –Matthew 25:35
Recently, I believe the Lord Jesus graciously gave me a revelation of how to start a house church in an apostolic way, within the 21st century context. And that entails:
1. Open Air Preaching–On State Universities.
2. Open Air Preaching–The Gospel, Being Guided by John Wesley.
3. Using a Stand Alone Sign–Beside Me As I Preach, That Says: “Join Us for Home Bible Study.” And, on this sign, we will have attached to it, a card holder with “True Life Ministries” cards containing our e-mail address. At the bottom of the sign, TRUE LIFE MINISTRIES printed; and under it: wesleygospel.com.
4. Invite Those Who E-Mail Us to Home Bible Study.
I put this idea across my wife and she is in full agreement. But I put it across another loved one, and she disagreed. Why this is I don’t really know. Probably because it doesn’t fit her understanding of going to traditional church on Sunday morning.
The Short “Screening Process” Before Letting Strangers in Your Home
Her main objection was, “Well maybe you should first have a Bible study in a coffee house or some public place to get to know them. Then, after you know them, invite them to your house.” This was really kind of a half-approving statement. And, at first it seemed reasonable to me, but when I rethought it, I realized it does not line up with the New Testament. Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35). He was referring to Christians reaching out to strangers in Christ’s name, as a service to Christ Himself. I think the whole philosophy of “first we’ll meet in a public place and talk, then we’ll meet in our home” is a cloaked kind of unbelief, lack of trust, and lack of faith in Christ’s Word. If you feel compelled to obey Christ’s commandment to invite a stranger into your house, then you should have the faith to believe that He will honor that, and help you do it. But this doesn’t mean there is no “screening process” at all. We’ve made it work before, where we communicate through e-mail with a stranger interested in house church, talk on the phone for half an hour or more, to see what we both believe, what we’re like, see if we’ll get along, etc. By the end of the phone conversation, you pretty much have a feel for what kind of person you’re dealing with. No, you haven’t seen their face yet. But you’ve talked to him or her; and you know where they’re coming from. That should be enough. Anything less than that would be a total lack of faith, in my opinion. Agree on a Bible study time, and then give them your address.
Why Are You Worried About Inviting Strangers Into Your Home?
Where do you draw the line? With the whole public-to-home meeting transition–how many meetings does it take to say, “Oh, I know this person. Now, they are allowed into my house?” Faith is required eventually. Risks must be taken. Are you paranoid, fearful, and worrying all the time that burglars are going to come in unawares, and steal from you? Or sexual offenders or murderers? Then don’t. Take Jesus’ advice, and don’t be so attached to your possessions: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). Which is more important to you? Reaching out to strangers, impacting them with the Gospel, and ushering them into the kingdom of God? OR–being so obsessively worried that somebody’s going to steal something when you’re not looking? Are PEOPLE more important to you than THINGS? Or is it the other way around? If you’re gonna do the house church Bible study thing–then at some point, you’re going to have to make PEOPLE your priority. Stop worrying about your STUFF. Get people saved! Make Christian friends out of those strangers! You won’t be strangers for long if you study the Word together. Discernment and discretion are always advised, but FAITH and RISK-TAKING are also advisable. Especially since the Bible says things like, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” and “‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full” (Hebrews 13:2, NASB; Luke 14:23).