Imagine planting five house churches in four years. This is what Poh Choo and her husband Phil have done in Melbourne through the Basic Church network under the umbrella of Churches of Christ. Poh Choo is also a missionary with Power to Change serving with me in the Church Movements team.
Poh Choo's motivation to get involved in planting house churches was her passion for disciplemaking.
"In Basic Church, we keep programs really low and emphasis training our people to be a disciple of Jesus," Poh Choo explained. This focus is shaped around loving God, loving others, and making disciples.
"We focus on developing a personal relationship with God, learning to hear from and obey Him. We seek to love, care, pray for one another, and then reach out to the lost. Disciplemaking is in our DNA. Part of our culture is that everyone who comes to Basic Church will eventually understand that Mission is very important. Basic Church exists to serve the Great Commission."
House churches can provide a natural introduction to Christian community for those who don't follow Jesus. One of the Basic Church gatherings in Melbourne is made up of young adults. They invited a friend, Dawn (name changed), to visit and she felt comfortable walking into a home and meeting in that space.
Intermittent COVID lockdowns in Melbourne meant that the house churches could only meet face-to-face occasionally with Zoom providing an alternative connection point. It was at a face-to-face gathering that Dawn made a big decision.
"It was during the Bible discussion that Dawn started to contribute quite a bit," Poh Choo explained. "Someone in the group said, 'Oh, wow, since you feel this way, have you considered accepting Jesus into your life?' And she said yes! It was just so natural and spontaneous. The whole group was there to lead her in prayer. And then she became a Christian. So naturally, that was something that we were just blown away."
The experience of seeing Dawn come to faith in such a relaxed way was very encouraging to the young adults. It modelled lifestyle evangelism that is simple and relational.
"It's not that difficult. You don't have to create an event. Now they have the mindset 'We can do it. We can reach out to our friends,'" Poh Choo shared.
As soon as Dawn accepted Christ, Poh Choo prompted the house church leader to talk with her about baptism. Dawn was keen but is waiting for warmer weather in the summer to be baptised in a river. This is what another couple from Basic Church did earlier in the year after coming to faith in Jesus.
Poh Choo and Basis Church leaders teaches people how to use a simple method for reading and applying God's Word called SOAP which involves four simple steps:
Scripture – Read a short Bible passage out loud and/or write it out.
Observation – What do you notice about the verses? What do you think the main message is? What verses, words or ideas jump out to you?
Application – Ask God how he wants you to apply the verse to your own life.
Prayer – Pray for yourself and/or for others.
Forming a healthy community is very important to Poh Choo in order to see 2nd and 3rd generations of believers come to faith and become disciplemakers. This has to be done in a simple and transferable way. The goal is to minimize barriers to spiritual multiplication. Using simple tools like personal testimonies, SOAP, and meeting in houses, means that new generations of faith communities can quickly grow out of existing ones through relationship networks.
Poh Choo has some advice for people who find it difficult to share Jesus with others.
"Start by being a genuine friend. We cannot treat people like a project," Poh Choo affirmed. "Just start a friendly conversation. Our aim is to progress to meaningful conversations talking about life issues, what's on our heart, and what's troubling us. Then progress to spiritual and gospel conversations. This progression is not done forcefully or mechanically but intentionality is key."
While there is a richness in sharing the gospel with someone you know well, there are times when you have a brief interaction with someone who is interested to learn more about Jesus. For this reason, it's helpful to have a short testimony or favourite gospel presentation ready to go. The GodTools App is a useful resource for this (godtoolsapp.com). But when it comes to disciplemaking, doing this in a faith community like a house church provides the support and encouragement needed for maturing in Christ.
There are thousands of people interested in Jesus who would never consider walking into a church building. But these same people are connected with followers of Jesus via their workplace, family, sports club, or other social networks. Being invited to explore the Bible in a home environment can be a much more accessible environment.