Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
November 11, 1998
Last Updated :
July 1, 2011
Quality Not Quantity, We Are Called One By One, Come And See, Potluck Dinners, Share All Things, Scheduling A Fellowship, Create A Family Atmosphere, Be Flexible And Quench Not The Spirit, Extended Fellowships And Nap Time For Young Children, Maintain Good Public Relations With Neighbors, Encourage Your Home Fellowship Members To Car Pool, Beware Of Satan's Tactics, Inevitable Persecution From Your Enemies, Benefits Of Persecution, Rotate Your Place Of Fellowship, When Your Home Fellowship Grows Too Large, Divide The Flock, Quality Flocks Not Quantity And Fish And Loaves, Spiritual Maturity And Bearing Spiritual Fruit, Divide Like Amoeba, Advantage Of Division: Less Threat = Less Persecution, Abstain From All Appearance Of Evil, What To Do When You Become System's Scapegoat And Are Falsely Accused And Persecuted, Conclusion
So, as I was saying, small is actually good. Maybe those few people that you invite to your home fellowship will each tell a friend or two who will also become interested, and who will decide to come along the next time. Let's not forget that in the Gospels, while the Lord may have preached to the crowds who sometimes numbered in the thousands, when it came time to actually select His core members, Jesus called His Disciples one by one or two by two. These men were then entrusted with the task of reaching the masses after Jesus returned to His Father in Heaven. As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
2 Timothy 2:2, KJV
The news that the Messiah had arrived was initially spread by word of mouth, one by one, or two by two. Then whole groups of people heard the Good News. Then entire towns were flooded with the Gospel. As the means of propagation became even more effective, entire nations heard about the Saving Grace that's found in Jesus Christ. Today, the message of God's Love and Salvation has been spread around the world to all nations by many different means -- including the Internet -- but it all started one by one and two by two, as we see by the following example that is found in the Gospel of John:
"The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."
John 1:43-46, KJV
That is exactly what you want to do; you want to say "Come and see! If you are really interested in what we are all about, well, come and see! Come to one of our little home fellowships! You just might like it! It is quite different from a church service, and that may appeal to you."
As your home fellowship begins to grow in size, you may want to consider having what is known as a potluck dinner. This is a custom whereby everyone brings something to eat; after all, if everyone gets inspired, sometimes such fellowships can last for literally hours; and eventually, everyone will become hungry. A potluck dinner becomes even more important when there are children in attendance. Unless they are kept occupied and satisfied, they could serve as a distraction in your fellowship.
If you are not experienced with potluck dinners, the best way to organize it is by asking everyone to volunteer to bring a specific kind of dish. For example, one or two people might agree to bring a meat dish. Others can volunteer to bring a starch, such as rice, potatoes or a noodle dish. Yet others can volunteer to bring vegetables or fruits. You'll likewise need volunteers to bring drinks, and maybe a dessert as well. One advantage of having a potluck dinner is that it eases the financial burden so that it doesn't fall on just the shepherd alone. In fact, as I explain in "Where Are The First Century Churches?", this kind of arrangement is in agreement with the Early Church pattern of sharing all things, as we see by the following verses that are found in the Book of Acts:
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need."
Acts 2:44-45, KJV
"Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."
Acts 4:34-35, KJV
As your flock continues to grow, you will find the need to devise a schedule which might include Bible sharing time, a time for song and praise, testimony time, a time given to prayer, and Communion time. You should do whatever uplifts the Lord, draws your flock closer to the Lord and to each other, and inspires them to do more for the Lord in their personal lives. Remember; your overall goal is to feed and to inspire so that in the long run, it will bear more fruit for God's Kingdom.
Please also keep in mind that in contrast to the stiff, cold, regimented, impersonal atmosphere that is so commonly found in many modern churches, it is important that you strive to create a positive, uplifting, friendly, family atmosphere. After all, according to God's Word, we are each a member of the Family of God, as we see by the following verse:
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;"
Ephesians 2:19, KJV
One thing that you need to realize, is that even if you make the best fellowship schedule possible, things won't always go according to plan. Sometimes specific activities may tend to overrun their allotted time slot. If that happens, please don't worry about it. Go with the flow, and just try to be flexible. Also, remember that Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, He is in the midst of them. That means that His Spirit is present, and it is in control of your fellowship; not you. The last thing that you want to try to do is to quench -- that is to say, extinguish or restrict -- the Spirit of God. Consider the following verses:
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20, KJV
"Quench not the Spirit."
1 Thessalonians 5:19, KJV
If your home fellowship drags on longer than you expect, and there are young children present, then it would be wise to consider setting aside a quiet place where they can lay down for a nap while the adult members continue in the fellowship.
If you and your little flock are faithful in your witnessing tasks, eventually, your home fellowship is going to grow in size. One problem which will probably develop sooner or later as a result of this growth, is that some of your neighbors will decide that they don't like the busy traffic -- or the noise -- on the weekends; even though they may have their own stereo at full volume, or the television set turned up loud so that they can hear the football game in the next room. If they are mean enough, and yielded to Satan enough, they might begin to complain to the local authorities about "those crazy Christians next door". You might even be branded a cult, so don't be surprised, and try to anticipate this possibility in advance.
Because of this potential for trouble, it is important that you endeavor to maintain good public relations with all of your neighbors. Let them know that you don't pose any kind of a threat to them. Where it's possible, try to find common ground and common interests with them. If you have children, let your neighbors meet them, so that they can see that you are just a regular family like everyone else. Schedule your home fellowships so that they don't occur too early in the morning, or at an odd hour of the night. In short, do all that you can to erase suspicion, and to live in peace with all of your neighbors. As the Apostle Paul advises us in his Epistle to the Roman brethren:
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:18, KJV
A number of months ago, I recall reading one news article in which neighbors complained about the extra parking spots that were being taken up by home fellowship attendees. One way in which you can alleviate this problem is by encouraging your members to initiate a car pool system. Considering the price of a gallon of gasoline these days, not to mention the issue of Global Warming, encouraging your fellowship members to car pool is a win-win situation for everyone. Money will be saved by the fellowship attendees; there will be less cars on the street which may possibly satisfy the neighbors; your city authorities may just decide to look the other way; and last but not least, by sharing rides together, your members will get to know each other even better. Another possibility is to simply use the public transit system if one is available in your area.
While I have offered some suggestions regarding how to hold a weekly home fellowship so that it won't arouse the ire of your neighbors, you need to realize that sooner or later, that roaring lion -- the Devil -- is going to growl and will try to put a stop to your home fellowships, regardless of what you do, or don't do. Persecution in one form or another is simply a part of the Christian way of life when we have to live in a world that is increasingly filled with ungodly men. However, you should praise God for it, and remember that you are not the first ones to whom it has happened. As the old saying goes, "If you do it right, the Devil will fight!" Consider the following verses:
"Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."
John 15:20, KJV
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12, KJV
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
1 Peter 5:8, KJV
If you are interested in learning more about the topic of Christian persecution, I encourage you to read the article "Civil Disobedience And Christian Persecution". For now, let me simply remind you that in some ways, persecution can actually be good for you and the members of your fellowship. Not only will it tighten and strengthen your flock and make them more dependent on the Lord, but persecution will also weed out the weak sheep who are just there for the fishes and the loaves, and who are not really serious in their commitment to you or to the Lord.
So what do you do in the case where the enemy is breathing down your neck? Unless you all just want to hand Satan his victory by giving up, terminating your fellowship and then returning to your former Baby Huey existences, I can offer several possible solutions. The first one is that you simply change the location of your fellowship. As we saw earlier in this series, the First Century Christians fellowshipped from house to house; so perhaps you can just rotate the location of your home fellowship from week to week so that it is not so noticeable. Perhaps your neighbors will be more willing to endure your "strange behavior" if it only occurs once every few weeks.
Another alternative to consider if your home fellowship is simply too large to fit in anyone's home, is that you hold your fellowships in a public place where there are no size limitations; such as at a public park, or at a beach, or at some similar locale. Of course, if you do choose to use a public place to hold your fellowship meetings, you should expect to be harassed by a few hecklers now and then; but this is very minor persecution comparatively-speaking.
In the case of foul weather, if there are enough members in your particular fellowship, perhaps you can even consider sharing the expense, and rent a large hotel room, or some other type of meeting hall for a day. Many organizations do this on a regular basis.
While I have offered the previous suggestions as possible solutions to easing persecution, based upon the Biblical pattern, I would also have to add that if your fellowship grows so large that you begin to have problems with finding a place to accommodate it, then this may be an indication from the Lord that it is time to divide your flock into smaller groups, just like an amoeba.
Allow me to remind you again that unlike many large worldly congregations which may have up to several thousand members, the great majority of whom do not even know each other on a personal level, and many of whom are probably spiritual Baby Hueys, we aren't just supposed to be interested in acquiring large numbers so that we can show off our size, strength and wealth to other denominations down the street. If eventually creating a so-called megachurch is all you are interested in doing, then please don't even start your own home fellowship, because your motives are simply wrong.
To reiterate my earlier comments, as the shepherd of your flock, you should be primarily interested in creating a top quality home fellowship, just as Jesus likewise strove for quality amongst His closest followers. While the Lord did in fact minister to the fishes and loaves crowds who were awed by the miracles which He performed, He no doubt recognized that most of them wouldn't make good full-time Disciples who would someday be willing to lay down their very lives for the sake of the Gospel Message. Thus, He only trained Twelve Men to be His closest Apostles, and then the Seventy as well.
In like manner, as the shepherd of your home fellowship, you should be interested in faithfully feeding your small flock, so that someday they too will grow to spiritual maturity, and will be able to produce spiritual fruit of their own. Just as you had to learn not to be a Baby Huey who sucked on the same milk bottle year after year, they must likewise learn to do the same. They must learn to stand on their own two feet, to feed themselves, and then to win and feed others as well. In other words, they must each eventually learn to shepherd their own home fellowships.
With that last point, we have now come full circle with our lesson. What was once one home fellowship, has now grown in size, so that just like an amoeba, it can divide into two; and that is only the beginning. Through united counsel and prayer, you can all decide together who will participate in each home fellowship. Of course, it is important that you try to divide the flock so that both fellowships have the necessary skills and talents to ensure their survival and continued productivity for the Lord. This begins with the wise selection of the new shepherd(s) who will be able to keep the sheep of the new home fellowship well-fed, and inspired, as they go about their tasks of serving the Lord.
Aside from the spiritual advantages of this amoeba-like division, there is another advantage to maintaining smaller home fellowships. From a secular point of view, the smaller you are, the less threatening you will appear to neighbors and local authorities alike. The less of a threat that you appear to be, the less persecution you are likely to receive as well; unless -- as I noted earlier -- your neighbors are simply out to get you no matter what. In his first Epistle to the Thessalonian brethren, the Apostle Paul wrote the following:
"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV
While you are obviously not evil, and are not doing anything that is evil, and may in fact be acting like innocent little lambs, nevertheless, you need to keep in mind that both the secular mass media, as well as government authorities, have a propensity for sensationalizing a situation when there is some kind of advantage to gain from doing so, whether it is a political advantage, a financial advantage, a readership or viewership advantage, or something else to be gained from doing so.
If they do decide to use you as their scapegoat, by creating some kind of a controversy around your home fellowship, and if you do become an unwilling target -- whether you like it or not -- how should you react to such a situation? Aside from the fact that you should obviously try to be a witness of your faith and speak the truth, consider what Jesus, the Apostle Peter and the Prophet Isaiah had to say regarding such situations:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Matthew 5:38-48, KJV
"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
1 Peter 2:18-20, KJV
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."
Isaiah 53:7, KJV
With these thoughts, I will bring this series to a close. I pray that you have been blessed by it, that you have learned something from it, and most importantly that it will inspire and motivate you take a leap of faith, and endeavor to start your own home fellowship. Please don't be a Baby Huey. Step out from the crowd and shine for Jesus; won't you? I would be thrilled to hear of your success in your new ministry for the Lord. Send me an email if you take the leap. Thanks so much!