This continues the conversation Dave and I had while serving together on a pastoral retreat care team in Idaho in April.
Bill: What expectations does Vineyard Central place on people who attend the various house churches? Can you just come out and “hang with the family” indefinitely?
Dave: Our expectation is that everybody will have a role. You can’t just show up week after week as a non-participant. We want to help everyone get to the place where they are able to identify what their role will be to everyone else in the group. Each group helps to name and identify the gifts they see in people and call them to deploy them. By four months in, most people should know their role pretty clearly.
For example, at our house church my Mom – prepares and serves communion and my Dad is the treasurer. He stewards the funds we collect, processes everything through our central system and returns our checks back to house church. (Note: Half of the funds collected from a given house church as contributions are returned to the house church so they can be utilized missionally).
Bill: What are some of the other roles people might take in a house church?
Dave: There are musicians, an apprentice leader, another apprentice leader, outreach coordinator and so on. Everyone can do something.
Bill: Sounds like this depends on the ability to “know and be known” which must be a key value to your community over and above mere attendance.
Dave: For us it matters that we become a transparent community that has conversations of consequence. We don’t dance around the bush. We have a check-in time. “What’s going on, how is God moving in your life”. When I see transparency, I affirm and point-it-out. We want more of it.
Bill: What would a typical schedule look like at “Hearth” (name of the house church Dave leads)?
Dave: Typically, we meet from about 6:00 to 8:00 or 8:15 at the Speckled Bird Café. Some of our other house churches do a full blown dinner. Ours doesn’t yet. However, we do invite people to show up thirty minutes early and “brown bag” it before the official start. There is a check in time and then a time of worship in song. For our Biblical instruction, we have taught our people the technique of Lexio Divina as a way of helping them to strategically listen to the gospel. In the four months we’ve been together we have gone through James, Colossians and Ephesians – one chapter per night. We help them to prepare for an encounter with God and His Word. Be still. Slow down your breathing. Listen for God’s voice. What lingers after you read the passage? What stirs in you? What stands out? What do you want to tell me?
Then, we’ll ask: “Does anyone have anything to share after sitting with this passage?”
In addition, we’ll add a 10 – 15 minute teaching every other week. These are vignettes on particular topics that are led by me or by others.
Of course, there is always a time to pray together. We’ll break up into groups and pray for one another. Often, our opening check in time will drive some of this.