Open Letter: Starting House Church

July 8, 2018
Uncategorized

This last weekend we celebrated the second birthday of our daughter Anu Dawn Prescott, thus named because we felt when she was born that God was speaking to us about A New Dawn, a New Beginning—and Awakening. Her first birthday was just a few weeks after we first arrived in Liverpool, and was the first time that we really invited anyone into our new home. So it is now just over a year since we arrived in Liverpool.

We had spent three years in Cambridge trying to do whatever we could to help bring revival and reformation to the city (http://ywamcambridge.org/about/) – prayer, worship, street evangelism, discipleship training, preaching & teaching (http://peterandtaryn.prescott.ws/what-we-do/) – under the banner of YWAM, and under the banner of Cambridge House of Prayer, and independently, while also regularly attending our local Anglican church (http://peter.prescott.ws/blog/2015/08/what-church-do-you-go-to/). We then stepped back for a sabbatical, thinking we would then return to ministry in Cambridge – and instead we felt God lead us to Liverpool).

We thought we would start slowly, and not rush to do anything new. We thought we should connect with the YWAM team in the city. We thought we should connect with our local church. We came to Bethel and found what we were expecting—a solid evangelical church with a healthy set of children’s ministries (the website gives a very good snapshot of the church!) And we were given a very warm welcome. At the first opportunity we asked about becoming members. We were advised to wait a few months and decide if this was really the place for us. We had already decided, but if we needed to wait, we could wait. So a couple of months later we asked again if we could become members. It took a few weeks to get hold of the forms, but eventually we got them, and eventually we filled them in, and eventually we were visited and interviewed for membership, and eventually we were received into membership by the church.

One of the questions that was asked in our membership interview was about how we thought we might be able to serve the church. My answer was that perhaps I could help the church develop its vision for multiplying home-groups/house-churches. So I gave Rob my copy of T4T (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0974756210/) and arranged to meet with him to discuss my thoughts. We had a great conversation, and I was informed that the church was indeed reconsidering their vision for home-groups—but that this would take some time to do. In the meantime, Rob made two suggestions: i. that if I wanted to start a house church on my street, I should go ahead and do so, and ii. that we should consider getting involved with Croxteth Baptist Church.

I went away from that meeting encouraged, and went on to a gathering for church and ministry leaders organized by Together For the Harvest. Here I met Nic Harding (founder of Frontline Church), who was reminding people of TFH’s goal “to reach every man, woman and child in the Liverpool City Region with the Gospel” by 2026. So I came home buzzing—‘I’ve been commissioned to start a house church!’ So we started talking about how and when to go about starting house church. And in the meantime we went along to the monthly Croxteth-Bethel café-church afternoon-service—and we thought, ‘This is great, here is a place where we might be able to swiftly get involved and make a significant impact’. And Eddie and Stella and Matt are a wonderful example of a Christian family whose love for the Lord shines radiantly forth, and who are serving tirelessly. We decided to spend a couple of months exploring whether helping at Croxteth (for a year?) might fit with the other things the Lord was asking us to be involved with.

Meanwhile, we’ve felt led to step out from the YWAM Liverpool team (http://peterandtaryn.prescott.ws/prayerletters/2018/05/prescott-prayer-letter-stepping-out-of-the-boat/). And I have been praying with Peter Gray at Gladstones into the possibility of becoming fully part of the team at Gladstones Café (which is changing its name to Tree of Life)—starting Liverpool House of Prayer (in connection with TFH) in their Upper Room, getting involved in reaching out to clubbers on a Friday night, perhaps getting involved with managing their bookshop, perhaps starting a Sunday afternoon café church. And Taryn has embraced the task of staying home looking after the kids, which has given her the opportunity to start witnessing consistently to our neighbours. And still the question has remained as to when and how to go about starting house church.

This last weekend we had a friend visiting from the USA, who had been on our Discipleship Training School in Cambridge. We were discussing whether we should we take her to Croxteth, or perhaps to Bethel? – when suddenly it became very clear that the time had come and we need to start doing house church as immediately as possible, and that to do that adequately we are going need to stop ‘going to church’ anywhere else on a Sunday. Which means we’re not going to be able to help with Croxteth after all. Nor are we going to be coming to Bethel on Sundays.

I realize that to a church that moves a little more gently, it may seem incomprehensible that we would become members and then decide so soon that actually we’re not going to come to that church. This isn’t about us rejecting or denouncing Bethel or Croxteth or anyone there. This is just about trying to be obedient to what it seems the Spirit is saying, trying to abide in him and let him position us where he will that we might be most fruitful. Taryn will still be bringing kids (ours and others’!) to Holiday Bible Club and Mums & Tots etc. And we will still be in Tuebrook, praying for God’s kingdom to come as it is in heaven, not just in word but in power, with all those who believe in Jesus united in Spirit and truth and many who don’t yet know Jesus hearing the gospel and coming to faith.

Grace and peace, Peter