What is a house church?

House churches are the best way we know how to encourage true discipleship, accountability, and spiritual growth through the teaching of God’s Word, fellowship with other believers, and reaching out to the community around us.

Why a network of house churches?

We operate as a network of house churches because we believe that they are a great environment for discipleship. Being smaller, they allow disciples of Christ to be the church in ways that you simply cannot in a large gathering. The New Testament lists more than 50 “one another’s” in which the church ought to be active. Love one another. Encourage each other. Serve one another. We simply cannot live life together as the church without opportunity to do these things… and these things simply do not happen when the church remains a sea of anonymous people. Sometimes people wonder why we network the house churches together (rather than just have them operate completely independent of one another). Functioning as a network allows for large opportunities like major mission projects or large teaching forums, and the small community house churches that make up the network allow for the intimate interaction of accountability and exercising spiritual gifts. We see the “big” and the “small” as complements to one another… not in opposition.

Who are the house churches for?

Everyone! Since house churches are organized by geography, they are not intentionally geared toward specific ages, life stages, etc. Does that mean that a house church may have singles, parents, and children all together? Yes, it does! They can really become a family environment, teaching one another and sharing life together. It is often much more like “Family Thanksgiving” than “Small Group Bible Study.” And yes, that can make things interesting at times… but you will most likely grow to love it if you give it a chance!

What makes a house church different from a traditional Bible study?

Keeping in mind that every house church is unique, they do generally have the common elements of a shared meal, communion, worship, prayer, and time in Scripture. They seek to establish transparency and accountability in even smaller same-sex groups (oftentimes called “Quads”) that often meet or talk throughout the week. Throughout all of these things, disciples should always be encouraging each other’s personal callings to minister to those around them.

It is not unusual to hear about house churches baptizing one another in bathtubs and swimming pools. Stories of house church mission trips and local service projects are becoming more and more common. People are coming to know their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in living rooms and backyards. Some of them may have never been in an Apex building. That is why our structure is the way it is and why we call Saturday/Sunday at 5200 Far Hills/1265 W. Second a “Gathering.” We are the church; we meet throughout the week in house churches and live the Gospel. On the weekends, we all GATHER together to be equipped to be on mission during the week. We truly believe these simple house churches ARE actual churches.

What exactly happens in a house church?

Every house church is unique. The personalities, gifts, contexts, and backgrounds within a church shape a group to some extent. We do, however, use a simple measuring stick by which the group can hold themselves (and be held) accountable to healthy body life. We refer to this as the DNA of our house churches. We should all continually be challenged and growing in the three following areas. Dynamic Truth: Teaching one another, through the Word and Spirit, the dynamic truth of scripture and challenging one another to be accountable and obedient to becoming more like Christ. Nurturing Relationships: Building strong, dependent relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ through close, personal accountability, prayer, and the many “one another” expressions of community mentioned in the New Testament. Apostolic Mission: Encouraging one another to live outwardly (together and as individuals), obeying the commands of Scripture and the prompting of the Spirit, to share the gospel and do good works to advance the kingdom of God.

How many house churches are there?

Among five regions there are about 80 house churches.

What is a “Region”?

The city of Dayton is broken into the following five regions:

  1. Dayton, Huber Heights, Vandalia, Riverside;
  2. Beavercreek, Xenia, Fairborn, Cedarville, Springfield;
  3. Kettering, Oakwood, Moraine;
  4. Miamisburg, West Carrollton, Germantown, Carlisle, Fairborn, North Cincinnati; and
  5. Bellbrook, Centerville, Washington Township, Springboro.

What is a "Shepherd"?

A “shepherd” is the term of reference for house church leaders (those in house churches who use their gifts to serve and facilitate).

What is the typical “format” of a house church?

Every house church is different! The most common structure is sharing a meal and content, and doing mission together. Here are some examples of different house church structures:

  1. Share a meal/content, quad;
  2. Guys and gals meet separately for meal and content three weeks a month and meet together the fourth week; and;
  3. Share a meal/content three weeks a month and have a service night the fourth week.

What is a “Quad"?

Quads are gender-specific small groups meant for accountability and deeper relationship.

Why should I join a house church?

At Apex, we consider membership being part of a house church. Because Gatherings are so large, it is easy to get lost if you’re not plugged in. House church is where we share life together on mission.

Are they all the same?

Definitely not!

Do they all study the same thing?

Nope.

Who decides what is studied?

It is up to each house church to decide what to study. Apex will occasionally print and publish studies for house churches (for example, during Advent or Lent), but they are not required.

What is the leadership structure of a house church? How are leaders trained?

All new house church shepherds are approved by the Regional House Church Leadership Team after interview and recommendation by the Regional House Church Elders. Once they are approved, they are under leadership of their Regional Elders. There are a plethora of trainings and meetings that shepherds are highly encouraged to attend. There are also countless resources emailed and otherwise made available to them.

Can I just show up?

Most people are not typically comfortable attending a house church “cold,” so we do our best to put you in touch with someone in the house church (typically the shepherd) before you go. That way you can get more details about what to expect and “know” at least one person.

Can I check out several house churches?

We really frown upon “shopping.” When a new connection is made, we strongly encourage people to attend that house church for at least three weeks. The first time you attend a house church, it is going to be awkward. We understand that putting a bunch of strangers together and asking them to love each other is uncomfortable, but building relationships takes time. And there is no perfect house church! If you have attended one for three weeks and prayed about it, we are happy for you to try again. If you ask, our connector will not email you a list of all the house churches.

How many people are usually in a house church?

The “average” size house church is 20 to 25. There are some that are bigger and some that are smaller.

How long does house church last?

This also depends on the house church you are in. Three hours is average but they can go anywhere from two to four hours.

Do I have to bring food the first time?

The majority of house church shepherds will tell you not to bring food on your first visit -- to please come as a welcome guest -- but it does not hurt to ask!

Is everyone going to be my age?

No. There are certain house churches that may have more people who are XYZ age than ABC age. We understand the importance of fellowshipping with others who are in the same stage of life as you but we really try to diversify our house churches! We have so much to learn from one another! We do our best to keep house churches demographically diverse, although that is not always the case. Remember, the purpose of a house church is to grow together and be on mission with people in your community.

Do you have house churches for single people?

We do not have demographic-specific house churches. You will find people from all stages of life within the house churches.

When do house churches meet?

We currently have house churches that meet every day of the week with the exception of Saturday. Still, anticipate being flexible. For example, you might live in Miamisburg and want to attend a Friday night house church but there might not be a house church in Miamisburg that meets on Friday nights. The Friday night house churches might only meet in Centerville and Fairborn. As you grow closer with your house church, you will find that you may be getting together multiple times throughout each week.

Where do house churches meet?

Most house churches meet in someone’s home. This may or may not be the home of the shepherds. But house churches can meet anywhere! Sometimes they meet at Apex. We have had house churches meet at the YMCA before! Since we (the people) are the church, the building does not really matter.

Is childcare provided?

Apex as a mothership does not provide childcare. It is up to each house church to decide. Every house church does something different. Some of the house churches have a lesson for the children in a separate room, and some of them include the children in the content time with the adults. Since children are part of the family we encourage their inclusion in house church.

How long should I go before I decide I want to try a new house church?

Our recommendation is three weeks. There is a good chance the first week will be awkward. That is what happens when you put a random group of people together from all walks of life and tell them to love each other. There is no perfect house church!

Can I join a house in a different area than where I live?

The goal is for everyone to attend a house church within walking or short driving distance. We understand that this is not always realistic. For example, there may not be one in your neighborhood or all the house churches closest to you may meet on Wednesdays and you are only available on a Thursday. The most important thing is that you get plugged in to one! This encourages closer community with those in your house church, and it also allows for you to be “on mission” for Christ together in your community that you have in common.

How do I get into a house church?

If you have a friend or family member who is in a house church, attending theirs is always a great start!

  • On the bottom of a program, you can check that you are interested in getting into a house church.
  • You can visit the kiosk on the Growing Wall at Apex Kettering.
  • You can fill out a card at the Help Desk (Apex Kettering) or Welcome Connection (Apex Xenia).
  • You can fill out our online form at apexcommunity.org/house-churches/

What if I want to shepherd a house church in my own home?

Email growing@apexcommunity.org for more info.

What if I want to become a house church shepherd but do not want to host?

Email growing@apexcommunity.org for more info.

What if I want to host a house church but do not want to be the shepherd?

Email growing@apexcommunity.org for more info.

How are connections made?

The two most important things when making a connection are availability and location. The goal is for everyone to attend a house church within walking distance or a short driving distance. Of course, it is always nice to attend a house church with people who are in the same walk of life as you (single, married, newlywed, new parents, etc.) but we strive to diversify our house churches. The other thing our connector takes into account is children. If you have children, we do want to place you in a house church with other children so there is structure for them. There is no “perfect” house church, but we do our best!

Why won’t you just send me a list of all the house churches?

For a number of reasons, including the following:

  • To avoid approaching house churches from a consumerist perspective.
  • So we are able to help put you in touch with the shepherds.
  • To protect our shepherds.
  • It can be very discouraging to our shepherds, who are there to help facilitate and lead deep community, to continually have new faces every week that are never seen again.

What else do you have other than house churches?

House church are really who we are. We do have program-based ministry for children and students through high school, but that is the majority of our programs. We do not have typical staff-organized Sunday school, small groups, men’s and women’s ministries, etc. At the end of the day, ministry at Apex just looks different. We seek to give as much of the ministry as possible to the non-paid, everyday Christ-follower because we know that we are all ministers of the Gospel under the true head of the church, Jesus.

Have a question that was not answered? Please email connecting@apexcommunity.org.

Last updated January, 2016.