In the New Testament, ‘church’ meant one thing: a group of believers gathering to support each other, worship, pray, learn and grow together…in someone’s house!
What is a House Church?
A House Church at Riverwood is a way of doing church that is being spurred on by the COVID pandemic. It’s an opportunity for people to gather together for church in small friendship-pods or community-bubbles in someone’s home.
How many people are in a House Church?
It could be as few as 3 or 4 and up to 12 or 14. These are gatherings of people who want to do church with people outside of their own family, but prefer not to attend a large building. This, most typically, will be gathering of people who already know each other and have a degree of comfort being together. Maybe they have already been to one another’s homes, their kids play together or they work together.
Who can host a Riverwood House Church?
Almost anyone can be a House Church host! In a sense, you are hosting a small party each week.
Here’s what you need to host a House Church:
A physical place to host a gathering.
The space should allow for people or household groups to sit six feet apart.
Internet service and the ability to livestream or access the service video
A willingness to communicate with your guests, make them feel welcome and facilitate conversations
A willingness to communicate weekly with Riverwood leadership via email or online reporting
A commitment to provincial health guidelines during the pandemic
Hosts should register their home and their group here!
Will strangers be assigned to attend my House Church?
House Church formation should be very organic and relational! We will not be collecting names and trying to find placements for people. The host or a groups of friends will decide to form a House Church and invite those they already have relationship with.
When can we launch a House Church?
We will officially be launching House Churches September 20th, but you are welcome to launch your House Church earlier. However, we do ask that you register as host and your House Church here!
What if I want to be part of a House Church but don’t know anyone?
You could choose to start your own House Church or talk around to see if anyone you know is running a house church, but we will not be finding placements for people in House Churches.
Does a House Church have a ‘pastor’?
In many ways the House Church will serve as a ‘watch party’. It is not intended to have a pastoral presence at each House Church. Many hosts will have a heart and the giftedness to shepherd and provide caring, biblical support to those attending, but these people are not approved and assigned the role as ‘pastor’ for the group by Riverwood unless they are an authorized, trained and vetted Small Group Leader.
When will House Churches meet?
There will be one livestream service times: Sunday, 10:15 am. However, the entire service will be available for House Church hosts with a special all-access link that can be downloaded or viewed anytime with your House Church.
What is the format of House Church and how long will they meet?
Each House Church will take on a style and flow of it’s own. However, this may be considered the typical House Church experience:
Previous week – Host will have contacted or check in with the people attending. Connection and care is key!
Gathering time – the group meets at the agreed upon time. Typically about 30 – 45 minutes prior to the livestream or scheduled service start.
Service experience – the group watches and participates in the 50-60 minute service via video
Post service time – this will vary by group. Some groups will host a discussion time. Others will spend a few minutes praying together. Some groups will have a hang out or even meal together.
What about kids?
Riverwood Kids provides online resources, activities, videos and teaching. Some groups will have a parent take the kids or run a House Church version of Riverwood Kids. Other groups will have the kids participate in the service time, understanding that distractions would be expected, but navigating them as best as possible.
In addition to the video lessons that will continue to be updated weekly on our website, Riverwood Kids will be offering an enhanced at-home option called Church in a Bag which can be requested per family on our website each month (beginning in October). These bags will contain a full month’s worth of supplies for each child to accompany our videos and will be available for pick up on pre-determined days. Please visit riverwood.cc/kids to request your bag before the cut off dates (one week in advance of use).
What COVID safety measures need to be in place for House Church?
Please provide hand sanitizer as people come in
Please respect people’s preference for space or their use of a mask
Please provide seating that is 6’ or 2 metres apart if possible
Please keep air circulating by opening windows or turning on the A/C or furnace fan
Please disinfect high-touch areas before House Church begins
Please teach your House Church to avoid hugs and handshakes during this season
If food or drinks are going to be available, please encourage pre-packaged food and disposable serving wear. Eliminate situations where multiple people are touching the same utensil or have access to a common dish of food. Strive for single touch / single use food experiences.