House Churches are intentional small groups that meet weekly at a home to worship together. This enables individuals to remain connected with the church, cultivate their relationships with God and others, and provide congregational care to one another. Worship may be as simple as livestreaming their local church’s worship service into their home. It might also include time for fellowship and/or discipleship discussion.
The Great Plains Conference has developed this brief how-to guide to get you and your church started. Find out:
Why house churches are important.
Who the key players are for this kind of movement.
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has provided a letter to the clergy and laity of the Great Plains Conference as we continue to work together in ministry despite being separated because of precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. Download the letter.
Online Technical Connections
Connect with leadership teams, staff, networks, small groups, and any gatherings using these and other online video conferencing tools:
www.zoom.us – Zoom is a video conferencing solution for up to 40 minutes/meeting for free. A single license costs $14.99 per month, with a discount for an annual subscription.
Some ways you can use these examples of video-conferencing software include:
Meeting with your leadership team or church committees. People can either connect via a computer with a camera, or they can call a number and connect via the telephone.
Conduct Bible study. You can share your screen to display PowerPoint presentations or you can facilitate discussion.
Lead a time of corporate prayer.
Gather a small group for study and/or discussion.
Encourage each other.
Check in on members of the congregation to see what they need or just to see if they are doing well.
Text In Church is the trusted church communication software that provides effective, yet simple, email communication and text messaging for churches. This may be a good option for keeping congregations in touch with one another, whether or not you have video conferencing capabilities.
This service is offering 60-day free memberships with a promise of no fine print, no contracts, and no gimmicks. And churches can cancel their memberships at any time. This service provides instant access to send 2,000 text messages with unlimited emails each month to stay connected to your congregations.
Stay connected with people of all ages by using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even YouTube. Here are a few ideas:
Use Facebook Live to share devotions, broadcast your worship experience or just to chat with members of your congregation. The host can speak, and others can type questions and comments as posts within the Facebook thread.
Share photos of each other doing activities or worshipping in their homes (after obtaining permission) to help people stay connected in each others' lives.
Be sure to adhere to copyright laws. For example, don't read a children's book on social media without permission from the publisher. Some celebrities and even some of the authors themselves are reading books for kids online. Use those videos to keep yourself free from copyright concerns.
We will continue to BE the Church! Yes, we will have to be creative in how we continue to transform our communities, state, nation, and world for Jesus Christ. We will follow the recommendations from the CDC and our state departments of health. We will follow our city and county bans or postponements according to their guidelines.
All of this causes us to be creative! Here are some new ideas:
The Western North Carolina conference has shared an Emoji Bible Activity to connect and invite kids and youth to live out Scripture. Try out some verses on being the salt and light, use for Easter, and ways to interpret Scripture for today. Download the simple instructions.
Holy Spirit Week — Lawrence First United Methodist Church has put together a chart for kids in the spirit of, well, spirit week, like we have in schools. Download the fun PDF.
Strengthen small group ministries by making sure that everyone has a leader to "watch over them in love." Start with those who are already meeting for study and have them connect. Then divide out the congregation based on neighborhood, affinity, or otherwise and offer invitation.
The way United Methodists around the world meet with sections/groups is having a group leader and then connecting with people in between worship times. Offer prayer requests, words of encouragement, ways to grow in discipleship practices and ask, “How is it with your soul?”
Have every person connect with an 8-week study that will meet online in groups. Assign a leader of the small group. These groups are able to check in and see “how is it with your soul?” and what others are doing to grow in discipleship practices. The groups can share a devotional or a study.
Here is a summary for topics for speaking with networks:
Online connections — Work together to provide worship together, rotate the responsibilities from week to week on creating a Facebook Live or livestream worship.
Physical Needs — supply centers at church or community.
Opportunities through Zoom to meet and plan ministry in the mission field.
Contribution to churches – giving online, etc.
Talk about how staff can work at home and compensation.
Working with children — short videos, making use of social media.
Continued encouragement to pastors and communities to be with people.
Follow funeral and wedding guidelines and continue to bury the dead as a family funeral. Establish ways to offer funerals in online capacities. Offer this to the community funeral homes. Record small services for families.
How do we start talking about Easter? Easter will be different. Make it a quality experience.
Podcasts for Connection
Some of our churches and conference staff members are using podcasts to tell stories about ministry and to provide inspiration through Bible study or discipleship topics. Some of them are listed below. Others are listed on our podcasts page.
Topeka First United Methodist Church: "Methodists behind the madness" podcast
Host Austin Harris sits down with Topeka First UMC Senior Pastor Jeff Clinger to discuss the ongoing Corona Virus crisis, his church's response to it, and his hope for how people of faith will respond and live during the pandemic. Listen to podcast episode.
In Layman's Terms
Todd Seifert, conference communications director, hosts this podcast that features stories, interviews and Bible reflections. He currently is hosting a series featuring Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. talking about the final seven recorded sayings of Christ from the cross. Listen to the podcast.