This manual assumes that the Church Planter is trying to start a network of reproducing House Churches. The first cycle of life starts a house church with indigenous, local leadership. Now the vision expands and leads to reproduction. This part of the manual deals with the next three reproduction cycles. The second house church will create a fellowship with the other existing house church. We call a network of from two to six house churches a FELLOWSHIP. Normally the fellowships would meet as a larger congregation once a month. We consider a mature fellowship as one having NO LESS than three house churches in it. Our experience has shown that stand alone house churches, or a fellowship of only two house churches stagnate and even resist reproduction. Therefore we would urge the team to remain “on site” until three house churches exist which have a vision for reproduction.
The previous section of the manual outlines how a house church reproduces and will not be repeated in this section. It does take about 3 reproductions in our experience before the reproductive ethos is understood and embraced. This section will focus on how the house churches network together.
We have found that it is better for a house church to aggressively have as a vision, penetrating whole new social circles, rather than just adding to their number one at a time. Certainly the latter should be happening, but the church needs to be on the lookout for new social networks to penetrate to begin a network of churches. Usually this has been facilitated by the example of the team. You remember that one member of the team left after the covenanting stage. He has been spreading his nets, trying to find a man of peace and getting a new gathering meeting going in a new home.
In the case of a church doing this, the members are encouraged to keep a lookout in their social networks for a cohesive group with which they could start a Bible. As the people come to Christ through this Bible study, they believers may begin to meet on a Sunday evening to write a covenant. The couple which started this study would be encouraged to “bud” from the original church, perhaps even taking another or two to get this new house church started. We have found this better than just waiting until the house church outgrows the home. When this happens the house church has to be divided resulting in trauma that may kill the vision for further reproduction. The budding method is more gradual with loyalties and relationship taking place slowly over time so that the trauma is dramatically reduced.
CYCLE #1 REPRODUCING TO FORM A HOUSE CHURCH FELLOWSHIP
Chapter 22 Forming a Fellowship Overseer Board
Chapter 23 Appointing New Elders in House Church Fellowships
CYCLE #2 REPRODUCING A HOUSE CHURCH FELLOWSHIP
Chapter 24 Reproducing a Fellowship and Focusing on a Town House Church Fellowship (focusing on a single city or town).
CYCLE #3 DEVELOPING AND SENDING CHURCH PLANTING TEAMS
Chapter 25 A Fellowship of Church Planting Teams