When you look at the New Testament, we find small groups of believers meeting in houses to worship, eat a meal together, praise God, and pray (Acts 2:42-46). Some of the biggest Christian movements took place in homes and in circumstances where meeting in large gatherings was either not allowed or unavailable.
In fact, when we look at the house churches in China, we find followers of Christ who historically did not have buildings, and were even limited by their government to worship in groups of 15. Yet, over the decades, amid much persecution, the Chinese church expanded exponentially. Although the Chinese church is limited in meeting size, buildings, and resources, they have the Holy Spirit. As a church, we have access to the same Holy Spirit present and can be encouraged by their growth.
What is a House Church?
A “House Church” is Trinity Church’s next phase of gathering during the Covid-19 pandemic (size of gatherings will phase in correspondence with government and CDC allowances and recommendations).
What does a House Church gathering look like?
These will be friendly, informal gatherings of people who meet in a backyard or home to watch the Sunday Worship Live Stream together. You’ll also have the opportunity to incorporate a meal and pray for one another.
Trinity House Church gatherings will start small (depending upon whether you meet indoors or outdoors) and then could grow (if the home site allows) as the state opens up more.
Why House Churches?
As much as we would like to begin gathering together for worship, as a mobile church, we have an added layer of complexity. Our Greenwich venue, the Hyatt, will not be ready to host us until at least August, we are still working on solidifying a venue in Darien, and the Westchester venue is not ready for services.
Who can host a Trinity House Church?
Almost anyone can be a House Church Host. In a sense, you are hosting a party each week.
Here’s what you need to be successful:
- You must have a physical place to host, either indoors or outdoors with internet access and the ability to show the livestream service.
- Be willing to communicate with your guests, make them feel welcome, and facilitate conversations.
- Be willing to communicate well with the Trinity Church leadership team via email and/or phone.
- Be willing to have communion available for those who would like to receive in person, and not through representation via the Live Stream. Pre-cut bread and an individual juice serving should be provided for each person. Individual juice cups can be provided for hosts by request as well.
Your House Church information will be available on Trinity’s website for people to register to join you on an ongoing basis. You can invite your neighbors and friends to join you too...it’s an ever expanding party! (As long as you don’t get too big too fast!)
How many people can each House Church host?
That’s up to you and to your physical space.
As Connecticut continues to revise and update their guidance on group sizes, we will continue to communicate with our House Church Hosts. As of June 11, the guidelines are as follows:
- Indoors: CT, 25 people max; NY, 10 people max (including children)
- Outdoors: CT, 100 people max; NY, 25 people max (including children)
For the most current executive orders and regulations, please visit:
Safety Guidelines for House Church
Trinity House Churches are recommended to practice social distancing and follow the guidelines as outlined by your state.
As a leader, you set the tone for your group. Plan to communicate with your House Church members BEFORE they arrive about what to expect and then make sure to follow the guidelines yourself. Your guests will follow your lead.
- Maintaining distance between group members who are not from the same family is recommended. We also suggest refraining for now from shaking hands or hugging. A simple smile and wave is just as friendly during this time.
- Wearing face masks are recommended if 6-feet of distance between each member is not possible.
- Provide hand sanitizer to group members upon arrival.
- Disinfect any high-touch areas before and after your group (i.e., door handles, bathroom area, seating). Follow CDC cleaning guidelines.
- Consider asking group members to bring their own food or beverages. If you would like to provide some snacks or beverages, please serve it pre-packaged (i.e., bottles of water, cans of seltzer, bags of pretzels or cookies, pre-wrapped sandwiches, etc.).
- If outside, consider asking each member to bring their own chairs and/or wipe down seats before group members arrive.
- Remind your group members that if they are not feeling well, have come in contact with someone who is sick, or are vulnerable themselves, they should stay home.
Kids Count Too!
Don’t forget that kids count in your total tally of people attending your House Church. Children who are gathered can enjoy the TK Live Stream together at 9:00am as adults get a chance to socialize prior to service starting. You can find that every week here: https://www.trinitychurch.life/kidsprogram
- Be ok with a bit more mess and noise that children bring to a church service. We are a family church and some family noise is just fine!
- Ask parents to bring pack ‘n plays to keep toddlers contained
- Offer kids ipads and/or phones with kids’ content loaded
- Stream the Trinity Kids worship service a second time in a different room
- Rotate childcare responsibilities among adults who attend your watch party
- Invite older kids to sit in on the sermon and participate in the discussion
1 - TEMPLATE FOR WELCOME EMAIL TO HOUSE CHURCH GUESTS
We are so excited that you have decided to join our House Church! We can’t wait to get to worship together and spend time together. Please plan to arrive around [insert time here]. My/Our address is [insert address here]. It would be most helpful if you park [provide any helpful tips here].
We care about your safety (and ours!) and wanted to let you know about some of the safety precautions we are taking during this time.
[If Indoors]: We will be meeting indoors and so will only have 10 of us participating at this time, including children.
[If Outdoors]: We will be meeting outdoors and so will only have 25 of us participating at this time, including children.
As a group, we will:
- Respect one another’s preference for space or the use of a mask if requested. .
- Keep doors or windows open to circulate the air, or meet outdoors.
- Disinfect or wash our hands upon arrival.
- As your host, I will be disinfecting any high-touch areas before our House Church begins.
- I will be providing individual servings of bread and juice for communion.
- If you would like to bring a meal or snack for yourself, please feel free to do that. If you want to bring something to share with the group, please make sure it is individually pre-packaged (i.e., bottles of water, cans of seltzer, bags of pretzels or cookies). I will be providing individually pre-packaged XXX. [Providing food is OPTIONAL as a host]
- If you are not feeling well, have come in contact with someone who is sick, or are vulnerable themselves, as much as we will miss you, we ask that you let us know you plan to stay home.
Looking forward to being together soon!
[sign your name]
2 - HOUSE CHURCH HOST GUIDE 101
Here are some House Church Host suggestions as you prepare for your gathering:
BEFORE YOUR GUESTS ARRIVE
- Have a fun, tidy/clean, and safe home environment. Sanitize areas that are frequently touched. Those in attendance can decide if they would feel most safe with the use of masks.
- Be hospitable - Have coffee and/or beverages available, and be ready when your guests arrive.
- Be prepared - Have your TV already on and linked to services on YouTube or Facebook. And if children are joining you, have any related kids activities ready.
COVID19 SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS
- Please have a hand washing or Hand sanitizer station available.
- Please stay mindful of CDC recommendations and encourage (and honor) people’s comfort levels as everyone re-engages.
- Consider disposable cups/utensils for coffee/tea.
- See Safety Guidelines for House Churches (see above.)
- Guests will follow your lead. Model engagement during service. During worship - communicate that people are welcome to sit or stand during worship.
- During the sermon - Have your Bible and notebook ready.
- Communion - Have juice and bread prepared ahead of time for your gathering to take together.
FAMILY FRIENDLY HOUSE CHURCH
- We understand focused engagement may be challenging with young children present. Enjoy the families and encourage engagement while communicating that “distractions” are going to be a part of the process with families. They don’t have to be distractions - they can be seen as a part of worship together as families. Do a lot of encouraging and be ready to roll with the punches!
- If you are comfortable, make preparations to “break bread” together after the worship service. This could look like a brunch after service, a cookout, a bring your own dish meal (potluck), sandwich & chips or simple snacks/appetizers.
- Note: You can provide the food or arrange a schedule for people to take turns bringing food. PerfectPotluck is a great tool! Don’t be afraid to ask others to bring food - it helps create shared ownership.
- As the House Church Host, be intentional to engage in meaningful conversation that builds life-giving community dynamics and encourages spiritual growth during the meal/gathering.
- Please read and follow Group Discussion Guidelines for guidance on how to cultivate a safe space for conversation.
- Here are some examples of the types of questions you could ask:
- How are you doing?
- What “struck” you the most from service this morning?
- Is there a scripture or a part of a scripture that impacted you?
- Do you or your family have any prayer requests?
- At some point in the gathering, probably at the table, at the end of the meal, pause and pray for one another and any requests that were shared.
CLOSE OF GATHERING
- Make sure it is understood when the ending time of your gathering is and that people are free to leave whenever they need to. We don’t want gatherings to become too long that they become burdensome and not sustainable for weekly rhythms.
- Communicate plans for the following Sunday.
- “It was so good to gather together this week to worship...we will see you next week at 9:30am. Remember, to bring your favorite appetizer to share afterwards!”.
SAMPLE HOUSE CHURCH GATHERING TIMELINE
- 8:45 am - Families arrive in time for the TK Live Stream if desired/applicable
- 9:00 am - TK Live Stream starts
- 9:30 am - Guests arrive in time for the regular service Live Stream
- 9:40 am - Countdown to Live Stream Starts
- 9:45 am - Live Stream starts!
- 11 am - Live Stream service officially ends
- 11 am - Noon - Prayer ministry available via Zoom
- 11 am - Brunch/Lunch (OPTIONAL)
- 12 pm - House Church officially ends if you choose to have a meal together
3 - ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Sunday Service Links:
Care at Trinity: