Like We Are Church, Koinonia Fellowship Richmond identifies with four primary values and has included a fifth regarding the sacrament of baptism. While we do not claim to be the “be-all-end-all” when it comes to churches, we have seen these tenants played out effectively in the We Are Churches of the San Francisco Bay Area. While each church is unique, and there are no perfect fellowships, we hope and pray to see God’s hand in our lives and our fellowship.
- Each church meets in a home.
- Each church has two pastors, both of whom aren’t paid.
- Tithes and offerings are collected, but all are set aside to be used for missions locally and abroad.
There is no overhead because we have no overhead. This frees us up to simply gather and enjoy fellowship, communion, worship, discipleship and the teaching of God’s WORD regularly. We have no building, no staff salaries, and our tithes and offerings aren’t used to operate. Not being dependent on finances frees us to focus on making important ministry decisions that require faithful obedience and not funding sources.
There is a degree of beauty and simplicity to small local gatherings of fellow believers. Meeting in our homes forces the size of the gatherings to be smaller and more intimate. When you have small groups, the members can actually get to know everyone in the church and as they grow together the Holy Spirit can bind people who may have once been strangers into a loving family of believers. Of course, all families are dysfunctional. Ours is no exception. Any time you take a bunch of sinners from all walks of life, ethnicities, backgrounds, cultures, etc… and put them all together there are innate differences. But with the Holy Spirit at the helm of our gatherings we are knitted together by a common bond and empowered by God to serve one another as we use our spiritual gifts for the edification of the body.
Another interesting facet of the house church is that we will meet in the various neighborhoods. In some cases, leaders will choose to reside in communities where the needs of the people are greater. For example, it may be that one of our church homes will meet in an urban area that many might call “a bad part of town” for the purpose of ministering to those around them. What this gives the body the privilege of doing is outreach to communities where people may be less fortunate. Truth be told, without Christ, we are all less fortunate, and our heart is to share Jesus in every community. Still, in America, we don’t truly experience poverty like the rest of the world experiences poverty. Because of this, we are more empowered to share our blessings with those who may be in dire need of help. The house churches then become a conduit for God’s blessings to the community. The poverty that we experience in America tends to be spiritual poverty, and by the grace of God, we are drawn together in the house church to end spiritual poverty by being an influence in our own communities.
Our aim for the house church is missionary in focus. While it is great to have a tight-knit family, we can’t simply settle for being family. We must also be a “Christ-centered family.” As Christians, we have all been called to go and make disciples of the nations… This means that we are all missionaries by virtue of our new birth in Jesus Christ. To that end and for the sake of the growth of the Kingdom, when a church reaches “critical mass” and new leaders are equipped, our churches multiply (think “splits”) into two churches. Where We Are Church aims for multiplication to take place in six months to a year, we have chosen to be a little more conservative in the timing so as to have more time to develop our leaders and have not placed a time limit on when we will multiply. Instead, we will limit the size of our gatherings by making them invitation only.
The essential element of multiplication involves growing and nurturing leaders to spiritual maturity. As this is fairly new to us, we lean heavily on the experiences of We Are Church and will follow suit by establishing a board of elders to oversee each of the pastors in each of the house churches that we establish in our area. We feel that We Are Church does a more succinct job of explaining this multiplication process and so we defer to them in the quote below.
Within the individual churches, each church has two pastors, and these pastors prayerfully disciple its members in hopes that two are identified that could pastor a church one day. In God’s timing, when the time comes for a church to multiply, the two subsequent churches are each lead by one of the original pastors and one of the new pastors.
As one might imagine, when a church multiplies half of the family goes somewhere else. This can be bittersweet. Bitter in that it will feel like losing family, but sweet knowing that our family members have been equipped to go to other parts of the community as missionaries in a new church where God’s Kingdom is expanding and more lives are being changed.
Like We Are Church, it is our aim to gather all of the house churches together once a month for a large gathering. These gatherings are open to the public and will be a great place to invite neighbors who are interested in learning more about our home churches. These gatherings have a three-fold purpose: 1) To serve as a family reunion 2) To cast the vision of the elders of the church, and 3) To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a public setting.
We put a great emphasis on the teaching of the WORD of God because in it we find life. If God treasures His WORD above His own name, then we think that this very same WORD should have priority in our own lives. To this end, we are all on the same daily Bible reading plan, and when we come together in our weekly house church meetings on Sundays we focus in on the reading and discussion of the WORD of God. It is our hopes that during these times of discussion everyone in our group will engage in the conversation as we grow together in God’s WORD. While there may be a primary teacher and set aside time for teaching, others are encouraged to participate and exercise their spiritual gifts during our times of discussion.
Fellowship is at the heart of our gatherings. Before, during, and after our meetings, we encourage lively God-centered communication, and fellowship within our communities is not limited to Sunday and Wednesday meetings. Many of our gatherings are centered around breaking bread with one another, and so it is not uncommon for us to have a meal with one another followed by lengthy times of fellowship.
One of the blessings of being a believer is that we are united to the Body of Christ around the globe as we come together for the sacrament of communion we are united as one body in Christ to those past, present, and future who are in Christ Jesus. It is through this sacrament that we are proclaiming the unity of the believer through the body and the blood of Jesus in remembrance of what He did for us on the cross.
Prayer is the essential lifeline of the believer and the manner by which we communicate with the LORD. During our times of prayer, we open the meetings by inviting the Holy Spirit to inspire our prayer time together. We pray in thanksgiving for what the LORD has done and is doing in our lives. We adore Him for who He is and His marvelous works. We pray in intercession for others. Above all, we pray as a united body that the LORD will have His perfect will in our lives. We believe that during these times of prayer our fellowship grows deeper and more profoundly tied to one another as there is no greater level of intimacy than that which is found in times of prayer. Prayer encourages, uplifts, and draws us closer to the recipient of our prayers, Christ Jesus.
While we value the sacrament of baptism we understand that this is an outward profession, usually a public profession, of the faith of the believer. We believe that baptism is commanded in Scripture; however, we do not feel that it is necessary for salvation. Still, following the model which Christ put before us when He Himself was baptized, we strongly encourage the believer, who is able, to be baptized in submission to that which Christ modeled for us.