Small churches don't start their meeting with a song, nor end with a benediction. These fellowships of 6-10 people may start out with conversation around the dinner table or a backyard barbecue. Laughter and stories are shared as they talk over life's challenges or daily bungles, something not as easily done in the rush of a Sunday church service, which Highlands calls "big church."
As they bond and study the Bible together, the groups become a spiritual family, where members identify and cultivate their unique gifts, such as hospitality or wisdom.
Beckman says that maturing process is more difficult in a big church format, where sometimes only the public gifts, such as leadership or teaching, are acknowledged and developed.
In home church families, each person is expected to learn directly from Scripture and share their insights.
"Robbie and I aren't Bible scholars," Dawn Walker says. "We were worried about that at first, but then we thought, 'We're just here to keep the group on time.'"
"Each small church family is every bit a church," says lead pastor Hal Haller. "We want them to be missional in reaching out their neighbors, whether or not they ever come to a Sunday morning gathering."
While big church can be a place for people to check out God at a safe distance, Highlands doesn't want visitors to feel like they have to join its programs in order to connect with Christ.
"If they have time to participate in only one thing, I tell them it should be the small church group because that is their family," Beckman says.
cool article in Leadership Journal: