With large gathering restrictions likely in place for 6 months to a year or more, we need to reimagine how we can be the church—gathering in homes for teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42). So, we are excited about an initiative we’re calling “Home Church.”
Home Church is any group of people (more than one, less than 50) gathered in a home environment (indoor or outdoor) to participate in NLCC’s weekend worship experience. We’re looking for 70+ homes, by September 1, who will become host locations where groups of people can regularly participate in their own worship gathering. Our vision is to see those gatherings combining the gifts and talents each person brings, and the streaming worship resources that we've appreciated from our NLCC teams. We imagine a family inviting another family, and perhaps a few singles or couples, to join them for worship. We imagine a Life Group or two gathering together in someone’s backyard. We imagine a hospitable host with a welcoming backyard space inviting those who need a gathering to come and join in! We hope to provide a space for everyone who wants to join in worship with others.
This is a stretching time for the church across the world. But God’s people throughout the history of salvation and even across the world today have faced more difficulty than this and prevailed. Why? Remember what God told Joshua as he faced the daunting task of leading Israel into the promised land:
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Similarly, Jesus told his disciples,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me… Surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18,20).
Jesus is with us. Jesus is in charge! So the mission remains:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).
Church, let’s be courageous. Let’s accept Jesus’ invitation to keep making disciples. Let’s take NLCC into our homes, and see what God will do! Who knows… if we do this, it could be that when we gather again, we are stronger and more full of faith than we’ve ever been!
We know you probably have a lot of questions before you are ready to jump in. Take some time to look through the FAQs below. We hope you'll join many others in our church on an adventure of being the church - a church much like the early church!
If or when you're ready...
Home Church is any group of people (more than one, less than 50) gathered to stream and/or participate in NLCC’s weekend worship experience. We’re hoping that many homes in our NLCC family will be a host location for even a few other people beyond your family to participate together in our Sunday service. It might be one other family, or members of your Life Group, or church members/Christians on your street, or a few friends, who gather as weather, health, space and technology permit.
To begin with, we want you to simply try watching the normal 75 minute service together. We will also be supplying you with the texts and music being used in the service, and you can choose to have members of your group read or lead those instead of, or along with, those on the livestream. The NLCC Kids Home Church video and activities will also be provided.
By the end of the summer we are aiming to operate as explained in the Hosting Instructions, with an adapted version of our streamed service on Sunday mornings that will actually make room for your group members' participation.
So a Home Church gathering would include time for (socially-distanced) fellowship, prayers and readings led by members of your gathering, a live-stream of worship, mission moments, and sermon, extra time to lead worship on-site, and hopefully some prayer ministry for one another. You can wait until all those resources are provided (probably mid-August), or begin to get creative now!
Imagine the renewed feeling of being near (though slightly distanced) to a few others who love Jesus. And imagine the positive life-on-life influence that will happen across generations and life experiences as you spend this time together. There’s no set model. If you think that just streaming the service together is as much as you’re able to do, start there! If you’d like to make it more participatory through our resources, go for it!
First, we’ll provide some weekly worship resources for you on our website. These will include, readings, prayers, hints and instructions, announcements, and worship song chord charts. You may find that as you gather from week to week, some of the participatory things you could do will become clear. Whatever the case, we want to support you.
Second, we’ll be available for ongoing support and coaching as you navigate this new normal for gathered worship.
Third, as the opportunities and challenges of hosting a home church environment become clearer (we've never done this before!), we'll provide training, such as a "model" Home Church gathering, for leaders.
We’ve put together a Hosting Instructions document that walks you through what hosting a Home Church gathering might be like, including times, resource links, and other suggestions. We’ve even written a sample invitation that includes the requests you’ll be making of those who come.
Whether you can only host a few invited guests from within your “bubble” or your Life Group, you’ve got space for a tenant or a few neighbours, or you’d like to open up your home to whoever needs a place (up to your determined limit), we would appreciate if you would REGISTER with us so we know to support you, and can provide a hub for your own communication and contact info. Then, get the word out! Keep us up to date on whether you’ve reached your limit, and we’ll send some folks your way as you’re able to take them.
We’ll send you everything you need to know and do in order to make your home church work well.
Our hope is to kick off this network of home church gatherings on July 26. That’s when we’ll begin posting the weekly worship resources at www.nlcc.ca/homechurch. If you’re not going to be ready until later in the summer, no problem. We know that some have been having a Sunday morning gathering already. Could you still register with us? Others may not be ready to launch until mid-August or early September because of travel plans. No problem – but if you’re willing to host, could you register so we can set you up for when you’re ready!
It is really important to us that our gatherings are held in a safe manner that puts no one's health at undue risk. We are asking anyone who hosts or who attends a home church to strictly observe the guidelines of BC's health authorities (currently in Phase 3) This includes things like wearing masks inside, self-isolation under certain conditions, physical distancing (6 ft/2 m) from those outside your "bubble," stability of groups, not singing inside without distancing/masks), including any necessary adjustments due to developments in the spread of COVID. For more about what you should keep in mind as you host a Home Church gathering, read our Home Church Health Guidelines.
As is the case in all things COVID-related, we’re not sure, but we have every reason to believe that we'll be in this position for at least 6 months, but possibly longer. We want to make sure we’ve got a framework in place so that everyone has a few people with whom we can fellowship and worship on a Sunday.
We’re mainly asking you to register so that we can support you in whatever you need to feel successful. You’ll be asked to provide us with the following:
Registering will also give you access to the Church Center “Groups” app, where you can manage the size and limits of your group, communicate with attendees, and keep attendance for contact tracing.
With your consent, and only while your gathering has room for more, your name and your neighbourhood (not your address) will be published on the website. When a person is interested in joining your gathering, they will submit their information, after which they will receive the location details personally, you will receive their contact, and your group limit will reduce on Church Center. Once your limit has been reached, your information will disappear from the website until you increase the limit or remove “members” from your group.
Even if you are already at capacity hosting your Life Group, extended family, or friend group we’d still love it if you would register. This allows us to support you in the months to come. When you register, just let us know you can’t take additional attendees. Then you’ll be able to use the Church Center app to communicate with your group members and keep attendance for contact tracing.
If the thought of being in charge of communicating, organizing the gathering, or keeping track of everything is really holding you back, it's okay! That’s totally understandable. Pastor Tim ([email protected]) would be happy to chat with you about finding someone who could lead your gathering, or delegating some of these details to NLCC’s admin team so you can just focus on getting the house ready for guests. At the same time… what if God has a plan for your growth that would only come by getting stretched like this? Pray about it!
That's so awesome. We could connect you with someone who has a space to host, but doesn't want to be in charge. We are also considering opening up the church building for a few Home Church gatherings on a Sunday afternoon or evening. If this is you, please register, and indicate in your location or in the additional comments that you'd like to help someone else host. We'll connect with you and find a way!
We can think of a few options:
We understand that it may be too daunting a commitment to open your home every week, whether because of travel or other responsibilities. When you register, you can indicate whether you're willing to host a weekly gathering, a bi-weekly gathering, or a gathering on some other schedule. You can change that later in Church Center if you need to.
As long as the current restrictions are in place, providing a safe, large-scale NLCC Kids program on Sunday mornings at the church will be impossible. We may explore whether a small number of spaces will be made available for attending the Sunday morning live stream, and whether we can provide a limited children's program for the few who need it. However, the reality is that most will need to find ways to engage their children in worship and spiritual formation in the Home Church environment if it is to happen at all.
Home Church is a wonderful opportunity for your children to see their parents and their parents' peers worshipping together. Not only that, but there are a variety of things that children can be asked to contribute to the worship time (reading, praying, benediction, sharing a song). These are important formative experiences for them, teaching them that they are just as much part of the Body of Christ as their parents!
That said, we recognize that some elements of the worship gathering may be difficult for some children to engage in (such as the sermon). Here are two options:
* Over a few weeks, the group could rotate the adult(s) or teen(s) who watch over the children during this time.
We encourage you to see this different format as a unique and precious time for your children to feel integrated with others in worship. That can be as formative as a more individualized children's program.
That's really up to you and your Life Group. Our hope is that our Home Church gatherings will be somewhat more porous than a Life Group, in the sense that a participant who is not part of that "inner circle" wouldn't feel like they were intruding. Here are a few ways to think about it:
We're supportive of any of these options.
When you register your Home Church gathering, you can indicate the campus that you were attending before NLCC's Walnut Grove and Yorkson campuses stopped meeting in person. Attendees will then be able to choose a group consisting of people who attend the campus that they most closely associate with. That way we can continue to build community with the people with whom we hope to gather when the pandemic is over.
Your willingness to host is completely voluntary, so do what you need to do. If it’s a roadblock we can help to solve, please give us the chance to do that. Whatever you need to do, please communicate with us and with your group so that no one is left out in the cold!
No! If you want to invite neighbours, school friends, coworkers, grocery store cashiers who aren’t NLCCers – whether they are regular attenders of another fellowship, or they’ve never been to church - don’t hesitate! Wherever the love of Christ can reach, we hope Home Church gatherings will reach!
Please direct your additional questions or concerns to Pastor Tim ([email protected]).