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Why All The Talk About Home Fellowships?

Hi, my name is Pastor Phinney. I started a home fellowship ten-plus years ago. Why? Honestly - I believe I was led by the Lord. I had a particular message I wanted family & friends to hear. After visiting most of the churches in our area, not one advocated the believer's identity in Christ. Then, I was left with a crisis. Do I settle for a church that was "OK," or do I follow the lead of the Spirit, venture out & form a new fellowship? It took me less than three minutes to answer that question.

After several years of leading this fellowship in our home, the Lord prompted me to merge our fellowship with our international ministry. The results became mind-bending. Since our ministry served 2.8 million inboxes annually via the internet, we decided to videocast/podcast our Sunday morning messages. That single decision transformed our outreach. While we serve a small group in our home, our podcast listener list grew to 46,000+ monthly viewers. Today we have 700+ available video messages online, focusing on the authentic believer's identity in Christ.




In 2019, the Lord woke me up at 3:00 am. Sitting straight up in bed, as strange as it sounds, I heard a voice that said, "In 2020, the Church will no longer be what it is today. Prepare the people." Since I wasn't sure of the details of such a warning, I perfected our outreach via the internet - attempting to master social networks, podcasting, video productions, and the writing of articles. As for my local fellowship, I certainly had no details to share with the people, but I told our local fellowship and our internet attendees what the Lord said. Less than a year later, COVID-19 hit the world like a raging storm. I then realized what God was warning me. you know, the church, as we knew it, imploded into the "new normal."


As you most likely know, the isolation that was required to survive the pandemic, people turned to online churches, and as God would have it, we were prepared. Our small home fellowship spiritually feeds thousands of hungry people from all over the world. Today, church advisors are strongly recommending "churches in buildings" to quickly convert to home fellowships - minimally hosting extension outreach home fellowships.  


As the devil would have it, due to the masses being forced to go online for church & fellowship, the enemy used the "not so good" religious bandits to shift listeners & viewers to a pluralistic view of the Church, which activated an internet Holy War. This became a great way for the Lord to separate the goats (fake Christians) from the sheep (authentic believers). Since the narrow road has few on it, the global masses took the world by a hate storm. Resulting in our 'cancel culture' movement. This ideation set the stage for haters of God to label and attack Christians. On the other hand, this 'cancel culture' movement-activated many marginal Christians to 'deconstruct their faith' in Christ. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today movements come and go, but one thing we can always count on - the authentic Bridal members of Christ always find a way to gather under His banner.

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Due to the stated reasons, exploring the details in the "how" to start a home fellowship has never been as important as it is today. The process is simple. 

  • Decide if your motive is a calling. If it is NOT, stop now.

  • First gain confirmation from God through prayer.

  • Seek counsel from your existing pastor. Attempt to gain his approval. Assure him you will not "steal" from his congregation. Plus, hopefully, you can do this as a new "church plant" under the church's authority. If no approval arrives, you need to decide if the calling overrides the opinions of man.

  • If you are an existing pastor, seek encouragement from other Christian leaders that you know and respect. These men could serve as your new elder board. 

  • If your not a pastor, no problem. If God has given you this calling, He knows you have the "right stuff" to lead a small fellowship. Think of it as being a leader of a Bible Study.

  • If you do not belong to a church, again, no problem. Jesus Christ started the first generation church with fishermen, small business owners, and even converted criminals. 

  • Do your homework. Start with the book that ignited my passion - "Planting A Family Integrated Church." Keep in mind that we believe the entire family should be active in the entire service. We never separate the family - even infant care, we provide the workers with the ability to watch or listen to the service.

  • Write out your primary doctrinal beliefs. Remember to do this with those advisors you picked to walk you through the vision.

  • Design a handout (brochure) that includes your vision, mission & purpose statement.

  • Once you have decided, gather a few friends and share your vision. Give them a copy of the church plant's doctrinal statement & your "brochure." Walk them through both handouts. Answer questions and recast the vision. Write down the names of those who strongly support the calling.

  • Meet weekly with this group and pray. Once the Spirit reveals it is time to start, start.

  • If it is you and your family, that is a great place to start. If it is your family and a small group who support the vision, better yet. If the group is larger than your home can hold, meet in a larger space for these meetings. If your home can host a maximum of 20 people, in the introductory meetings, you need to explain that the church will form home-church cells. Meaning, each time a group grows out of their home space. A new cell will be formed. However, all cells will be under the authoritative structure of your home cell. We believe that elders should be males, while it is permissible to have women AND men as deacons.

  • Make sure each cell has one elder in charge. All elders will answer to you as the primary Home Church Pastor. Use all individuals with leadership qualities as future elders, deacons, and even pastors. 

  • Start the same way you would if starting a Bible Study. Once you all get settled into the routine, it is time to reach out. But first, let's look at the flow of the service.

  • Start basic. After ten-plus years, we maintain the basic flow of service. 

    • Greet all as they arrive at your home.​

    • Have coffee & drinks available. No food. 

    • Enjoy the fellowship, but start on time.

    • Open the service with a testimony or illustrative video.

    • Have a time of worship. If you have musicians - great. If not, as in our case, we have Don Moen as our online worship leader. We provide his music in our IM Worship Center. You can download and play any of our media for your use. We keep it to three or four songs.

    • The pastor gets up and shares a bite-sized summary of the up-and-coming message. Remember to do an opening prayer. Keep it short and sweet.

    • Have a guest musician share a song. We make use of Jeremy Camp and his wife. At times we tap into other quality musicians like Chris Tomlin - all via video.

    • Sermon time. Even though I am the pastor, I videocast my online message. We do this to give our local people the same message as our online listeners. You most likely will do your own sermon. Keep it under 30-minutes. The attention span of people today is much shorter than our norm. Give all attending youth and adults a copy of your sermon outline for their weekly studies. I hand out my PowerPoint presentation to each as this outline. 

    • Discussion time. We always have a discussion after the message. Have questions ready that focus on your main points. We open our conference call system so that people from wherever can join the discussion. It is a great additive. In most cases, the discussion period is 25-30 min. in length. 

    • Once a month, turn your discussion time into a group prayer time. I use this time for physical and spiritual healing opportunities. Many times it promotes "confession of sins." I limit my people to using this time for personal confessions & needs. I remind them this is not a time for praying for their dogs or grandma, but rather to assist them in personal struggles. Generalized prayers should be reserved for special prayer gatherings.

    • Close the service with another special song - via video or live.

    • Have one of your leaders stand and pray a blessing over the group. Dismiss them.


That's it. You now have the basics in starting a Home Church. I cannot emphasize enough for you to read the book I recommended. Pastor Fox is not only a friend, but he is solid doctrinally. Plus, he is gifted at explaining the practical detail of planting a church. And...feel free to contact me with your questions. 

Outreach ideas:

  • Contact the homeschoolers in your area. Share your vision & invite each to attend.

  • Put an ad in the local paper. We are registered with the newspaper as a local church.

  • Visit each and every pastor in your community. Share your vision and leave them with your brochure and doctrinal statement. 

  • Join the local pastor's association. Be active with ideas and ways you can better serve the community. Remember, leadership shines through old ideas being revived. 

  • Host community events. We use the "block party" concept. Hosting events at YOUR home is the key. 

  • Attend all church-related public events. Keep your fellowship front & center.

  • Have your people canvas the community with door hangers. People who help you do this should be equipped with the ability to answer questions for those who answer the door. 

  • Find opportunities to speak publically about the family-integrated church.

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