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  • Writer's pictureKrista Bontrager

Should I Start a House Church?

One of the consequences of the events in 2020 was a great reshuffling of churches. Many people left their church, looking for a more biblically faithful alternative. We know that some of our followers have had a hard time finding a new church or have wondered whether to start a house church. Our friend, Uncle Kunkle (aka Brett Kunkle from MAVEN), came on to talk about his family's effort to start a house church in his backyard. Let's talk about the pros and cons of house churches.


Discussion with Brett Kunkle

Brett Kunkle is a husband, father, pastor, homeschool dad, and ministry leader in Southern California. Brett has extensive experience working with children, youth, and young adults. He previously worked for many years at Stand to Reason, an Apologetics ministry. Brett and his wife, Erin, founded MAVEN Ministries in 2017. MAVEN exists to help the next generation know truth, pursue goodness and create beauty, all for the cause of Christ, and to equip those who teach and train them—parents, grandparents, youth workers, pastors and educators—to do the same.

We had a thoughtful discussion with Brett regarding church ministry models and the various pros and cons. Here are some highlights from our discussion:

What are the key features you found to be necessary for a healthy church?

Core Values:

**Plurality of leadership


**Being a church planting church

**Disciple believers

**Renewing the mind

**Unleashing giftedness

**Develop rich community

**Equipping parents as the primary disciplers of their children

**Engaging with the culture

Brett's home church looks very different from the "typical" American evangelical Sunday church service.

Below is an example of Brett's home church model:

First: Table Fellowship--Gathering for a meal and fellowship for approximately 1 hour before the "official" service starts.

**Based on the New Testament, especially in Acts, having a meal together can represent intimacy and acceptance.

Next: After the meal & fellowship, the "formal service" begins. Families, including kids, stay all together for the entirety of the service.

Worship: May include singing a song a cappella, using a YouTube video and singing along, accompaniment from a guitar or keyboard player while singing other words, it is simple, yet meaningful.

During the teaching/message:

Public reading of Scripture together. People are encouraged to bring their physical Bibles. Everyone is encouraged to engage with the text themselves. There is teaching by the pastors, but there is also open discussion, where questions are welcomed and encouraged. The discussion of the text is very interactive; the congregation is encouraged to "chew on the Scriptures" for themselves and engage with the text directly.

Finally, the Lord's Supper and Doxology conclude the service. Families take turns leading communion.


How do we participate in a house church (or smaller congregation) without it getting dysfunctional?

We need to set aside the American ideal of individualism. We need to be open to the closeness of a smaller church fellowship that allows for intimacy and accountability. We are family and we don't quit on each other. We believe in grace and forgiveness and embrace the mess!

**Also, the emotional and spiritual maturity of the leadership is important!

When is it appropriate to think about starting a house church?

Get a clear vision of what the church is! Develop your ecclesiology! As we understand what the church is and what it is for, we can follow the Lord's leading and conviction to move forward.

What about giving and having a 501(c)3 non-profit status?

Brett's church is still weighing the pros and cons of this and hasn't reached a definite conclusion yet. One important NT principle is for the Body to give cheerfully, which is possible with or without the tax-exempt status (2 Cor 9:6-7). In addition, if the Church were to ever be shut down by the government (ie another pandemic or other emergency), Brett would abandon the tax-exempt status in order to remain faithful to a Biblical stance for Christ and the Church (and CFBU, as a 501(c)3 non-profit, agrees with this perspective as well).

The team recommends these resources:

To find out more about MAVEN conferences, the parenting podcast, immersive mission experiences, and more, visit their website:

Book recommendations:

Sustainable Church by Walt Russell

The Ancient Church as Family by Joseph H. Hellerman

Playing with Fire by Walt Russell

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