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A call to move beyond small groups and home church

Posted by on November 3, 2014

Last night we had 15-20 people from the neighborhood in our home to explore the teachings of Jesus. We shared a meal, studied the scriptures, laughed, shared stories, and even prayed blessings over our friends and families.

We get this question often: “So what’s the difference between what you do and a house church or a small group?” I love this question. Not so much because of the differences but because it gives us a chance to explain what we believe God wants to cultivate throughout the city. It allows us to speak to the big idea rather than highlight the differences.


Here is the thing. I believe both models are needed. We know of some amazing small groups and house churches that are following Jesus with abandon. But, oh, how we need more men and women of God to move toward this neighborhood expression. Something beautiful happens when the people of God choose to live this way. The outward world begins to see the body of Christ, and the body is beautiful. Frankly, I don’t want my neighbors to just see Matt and Amy. I want them to see the body because that is when the glory of the Lord is fully revealed. By making simple but radical choices towards a shared mission and calling to place, this becomes possible. We begin to be seen as we were designed to be seen, and we all experience transformation.



This calling we sense is different than a typical small group or house church…

See the major differences in the table below:


Small Group or House Church Neighborhood expression
Participants often commute up to 45 minutes to attend All members live in same neighborhood and stay within a 10 minute walk
Participants often see each other once or twice a week Members share the messiness of life together and have random encounters in the neighborhood.
Participants can care or invest in something they are passionate about. i.e. homeless ministry, recovery ministry, etc. Members are a part of the place they serve. Their home is their neighborhood and they invest, care, and learn in their home. They also serve together regularly at a location in the area.
Participants can often opt in or out when they want. Members share a set of commitments or covenant that help them live into their shared mission and calling.Note: We share an annual covenant

The place we all call home: Columbia City

Why does it matter?

While the differences are important to understand this is not what motivates us. What motivates this movement is the hope to see the body of Christ known and magnified.

We do, however, want to stay true to our calling and invite people to join us if they feel a similar call. We sense God calling us to be Christ-followers who have a deep commitment to the place where we live (the neighborhood) and towards a radical shared life (community) with the people we worship with. Do you sense a similar call? Do you have similar longings?



6 Responses to A call to move beyond small groups and home church

  1. Gary Thomas

    I long for this kind of thing too! However, I live in a rural area. It is much more difficult to get this kind of thing off the ground in a rural area. Do you have any thoughts or resources in this area?

  2. Eric

    Love this post Matt! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kenn Lehto

    Interesting! This is my first exposure to your idea about neighborhood expression. I don’t see the scriptural “call” for this form of worship, but it probably works for many people, just as mega/churches, traditional churches, house churches, etc, work for some people as well. Your differences table seems more idealized than real experience. Your concept of “neighborhood” seems nostalgic at best. Even in the 1960’s, our family only knew a few neighbors, no real sense of community. I will enjoy reading your future writings. I want to know more about this concept! Thanks!!!

  4. Jeff

    Why the covenant?

  5. Benedicte

    I so deeply agree wuth you in this

  6. Kurt Willems

    This is clear and helpful. Gonna share with my group. Thanks!
    Kurt Willems recently posted…8 Signs That You Might Be An Evangelical RejectMy Profile

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