How to Start a House Church: Everything You Need to Know
Although church attendance has been in decline for decades, house churches have enjoyed a surge in popularity of late. According to recent reporting, up to 12 million Americans attend home-based churches. You may not need to invest in a building if you plan to start a church in your own home, but there are still many steps to take when starting a house church. Follow this guide to ensure the successful launch of your home-based church.
Identify your goals.
House churches typically have small congregations who meet in the minister’s home or the home of an elder or church member. Your membership goals may be impacted by the space available for services. Determine how many people you can comfortably accommodate to ensure you know how many participants you hope to have.
It’s also a good idea to determine if you plan to focus on Sunday services only or also plan to host Bible studies, youth groups and other group gatherings, such as prayer breakfasts.
Establish critical details.
Churches follow a doctrinal statement of beliefs. Although most Christian denominations share several basic doctrinal beliefs, there are many differences between various congregations. Identify which beliefs will form the foundation of your church. When you’re ready to launch, you should focus on promoting your house church to people who share those beliefs. You may also wish to align your church with an established denomination. Joining a denomination will require compliance with their doctrinal statements and code of conduct. You may need to meet with representatives of that denomination to fulfill other requirements as well.
Conduct research and reach out.
When a person starts a business, they must produce a business plan. This is an excellent model to follow when starting a church. Research local churches and choose a name for your church that won’t be confused with an existing church nearby. If possible, talk to people who’ve left churches recently and identify their reasons. A business plan should outline goals and identify how to fulfill those goals. Your research can help you determine how to attract members who will be interested in your house church.
You should also launch a website and establish accounts on social media when you’re ready to launch your house church. Network with others who share your beliefs and are interested in joining an in-home church congregation. You can also promote your church by participating in community events and sponsoring local activities.
Prepare a budget.
House churches may not have to incur rental costs, but there are still expenses these churches must cover. Identify reputable church resource suppliers and determine which items you need to launch your church. Based on your doctrinal beliefs and denominational affiliation, you may require ministers, pastors or other clergy to wear a clergy collar, ministerial robes or clergy shirts. Wearing professional garments from launch will attract congregants who respect your commitment to protocol. You should also check with reputable church suppliers to determine the cost of other supplies, such as communion supplies, Bibles, hymnals, and Advent supplies.
Consider the practical side of things.
If you plan to use your basement for services and you’re located in the northeast Ohio area, you may need to invest in basement foundation repair in Stow, OH. Your meeting room should be comfortable, which means no drafts or moisture that can cause mold. Your church may also need to invest in routine maintenance and install drains to prevent meeting rooms from flooding. Church supplies may also need to be stored in bins or on shelves. Have a professional contractor come to take a look at the space you intend to use for your church. They can can give you a free estimate and alert you to any major issues like foundation problems or cracks you should attend to. Safety is critical for your congregation, so if you need to take care of foundation repair, it’s better to do it sooner than later and to make sure you have a contractor who will do a great job. Find someone who can do big tasks like basement waterproofing as well as small things like inspecting your crawl space or protecting against moisture.
Congregants will also need places to park or access to public transit. You may want to seek volunteers willing to transport elderly members or those who do not have a vehicle. Once you establish your congregation, you may be able to promote carpooling if parking is limited. You may also need to invest in a wheelchair ramp or stairlift to ensure your meeting rooms are accessible if there are members of your congregation with mobility issues.
If you hope for your house church to expand, you may need to offer more than one service time. You may also need to invest in renovations to your home to increase the amount of usable space available for church functions. It’s a good idea to take care of basement finishing ahead of time so that you can expand your congregation organically as it grows.
Take care of the legalities.
Once you have chosen a name, register your church name, and apply to the internal revenue service (IRS) to receive an employer identification number (EIN). An EIN is required to open a bank account, pay staff, and file taxes.