House Gatherings are new, so we created some simple tips to help you host your House Gathering.
Looking for something specific? No problem, just jump to the section you need. We will continue to add new tips below, so check back!
What should I do before we meet?
- Pray! We “pray first” – so set aside some time to pray for God to move through your leadership in a new way, and for your people and the gathering.
- Say hello! Reach out to anybody who’s coming to your House Gathering and find out more about them
- Set and share your expectations – Everybody appreciates clear expectations… but only if they know about them before they arrive. Here are a few of our recommendations for areas to be clear on:
- Distancing + Masks → Let everybody know your preference. If someone would like to make a change to their group based on your boundaries, no problem – let them know Nick or Katie will be in touch to help connect them into the right place.
- Food → Decide if you will have brunch or some kind of food. Sharing food/a meal can be a great way to build a sense of family and to further connect. You may also ask someone within the group to coordinate this, as many people enjoy doing so.
- Kids → Do you have kids coming? Awesome! We recommend setting aside a separate area for kids 4 and older to have their own gathering experience and one adult to lead them. Find among your group a second screen/device for the kids’ worship/teaching video.
How do I get the video to work?
- Each week we’ll release a new video with Mill City Church teaching and worship. This video is available by 5 p.m. each Saturday at millcitychurch.org/online
- We’re also excited to offer fresh Mill City Kids content each week. This is accessible at millcitychurch.org/kids-online. Typically, the kids video is slightly shorter than the adult video. This will allow for time to do a fun activity and review with the coloring sheets.
- We recommend testing everything out before your first gathering.
How should I start my House Gathering?
Really – you do you! We love how each House Gathering will feel just a bit different because of individual leadership. One helpful tip for everybody – spend the first minute of your House Gathering celebrating everybody who walks in, then spend the first 10 minutes simply connecting.
If you’re looking for more specific ideas, check out these options:
- Open in prayer. Be yourself. Your prayers are powerful, important and effective (James 5:18) and God hears you every time you pray (1 Peter 3:12, Jeremiah 29:12-13, Deuteronomy 4:7).
- Pray the text of the Scripture: for soft, open hearts and the Holy Spirit to open our ears and understanding as Jesus describes in Matt. 13:15 quoting Isaiah 6:9-10; Pray Ephesians 1:15-22, Philippians 1:3-6, or the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:1-4/Mathew 6:9-13 or ask someone else to read the passage, and ask the group to close their eyes and pray along as it is read.
- Ask people to engage wholeheartedly in worship, which often includes engaging our bodies. Perhaps stand, walk, kneel, open hearts and hands. Read a psalm as an encouragement to praise God, and an invocation prayer (“calling on God”) Psalm 25:1-5, Psalm 100, Psalm 9:1-2, Psalm 66:1-4
- Encourage people toward one-to-two minutes of silence and solitude before worship or after the teaching. This practice, (a time or prayer of evocation “to bring to mind”) can help people gain a sense of quiet in our noisy and crazy lives, and can help us acknowledge that God is present right here, right now.
- Ask if someone would be willing to open your group in prayer.
I’m not sure how to physically engage during a House Gathering
No problem, this is new for all of us! Here are a couple of helpful ideas.
- Don’t just point the way, go the way.
- Demonstrate full engagement by standing up when it’s time to sing worship or take notes during the sermon.
- Invite others to lead during a group prayer, or the discussion guide after the sermon, or leading the group in communion.
How should I engage Kids?
We love kids! Kids will look different at each House Gathering, but we encourage you to lead with the idea of “Mill City Kids” and not “childcare” … we believe the Holy Spirit is as-ready to speak to kids as he is to adults. So let’s create spaces believing for powerful encounters for kids.
- Resources are available here
- After the teaching, encourage kids to utilize the coloring sheets for review.
- We recommend the younger kids (3 or younger) stay with the adults
- Consider rotating a parent each week to lead the kids through their gathering.
I’m not sure I’m comfortable facilitating conversation
No problem! Our recommendation is to simply let things breathe … people will speak up! Want some more tips? Check out these ideas:
- You set the culture and the depth by answering honestly and helping others feel safe to share.
- Respond to each person after they share (i.e. “thanks for sharing.”)
- Be sensitive to leading of the Holy Spirit, looking for “ministry in the moment”
- Often, it helps to specifically ask someone to respond to a question instead of repeatedly opening it up to the entire group. Be mindful of who tends to volunteer to share and who tends not to. Do not be afraid to ask someone if he/she would be willing to share, in order to help all people participate, and if that person declines, that is okay too.
- Remember you are not the person with all the answers. You are helping others think through and digest the content, and helping facilitate the richness of thought that arises when people discuss together. If something comes up and you are unsure what to say, it is okay to say, “Thank you for asking/bringing that up. I’m not sure. Anyone else have ideas?
How should I close my House Gathering?
Again – there’s plenty of room for flexibility here, but here are a few ideas.
- Talk through the discussion question – there will be a discussion question suggested at the close of each teaching. You may decide to ask each person to consider it individually, then get with two-to-three people and talk through that question or any other questions that came up. You can then ask the group to come back together and share thoughts.
- Utilize the Discussion Guide – available below the video for each week, simply by clicking on the “Discussion Guide” button
- Close in prayer
- Read Hebrews 4:14-16 aloud, and remind your group that Jesus sympathizes with our weakness.
- Get into smaller groups, and ask each group to share: What is each person savoring/surviving? Share a grief, gain, and a gratitude, then pray into those areas. Ask what is most important to each person at the moment, and how does he/she feel about it? Ask each person to share on the state of his/her soul right now. And then pray.
- James 5:16 explains that when we acknowledge (confess) what is truly going on in our hearts and lives, and pray for one another, we receive healing.
- Clarify your plan … what’s happening next week? same time, change of location, food, etc.
How can I support someone going through a hard situation?
It can be hard to respond to other people’s struggles well and it can be normal to feel lost and even to question if you’ve said the wrong thing. We need each other and by creating a space in a House Gathering, where people can show up no matter what their week looked like, is a gift.
The moment someone takes the risk to share their struggle, we are on sacred ground. It’s an opportunity for God’s Kingdom to intersect with a busted situation.
Here are three things we can do to serve those who are struggling well… and following them in order is important.
- It’s God’s kindness that is most disruptive to our sin patterns (Romans 2:4) and the same is true with our shame patterns. The underlying emotion lurking beneath struggle is often shame. We have an opportunity to disrupt shame by extending kindness. We can acknowledge the courage it requires people to share and thank them for trusting us with something dear to their heart. This could sound like, “I respect the courage it took for you to share, thank you for sharing that with me.” Then we can take a real shot at shame by normalizing the struggle with something like, “Please don’t feel shame that you are struggling in your marriage, lots of people do. I am honored you invited me into it.”
- Our role is to offer comfort and not fix the problem. The solution may seem simple to or there may be a positive spin that seems obvious… resist the temptation to fix it. This is by far the hardest step because it is counterintuitive. We think, if I can fix it they will feel better. However, that’s actually not how our emotions work. We need comfort before we can hear anything. This is one of the ways we experience God’s faithfulness in our struggles. Scripture teaches us that we can count on his comfort in our struggles (2 Corinthians 1:3-5), but doesn’t promise He will take them away every time. Often God uses us to bring his comfort to others and we show it though deep care for their pain. It could be something like, “Whoa, that’s a heavy load you are carrying. I imagine that feels overwhelming.” And then, we just listen and allow our care to show through our facial expressions and through thoughtful and kind questions.
- This can only happen after you provide comfort and is sometimes best in a follow up conversation. People may need more than what you can offer (you may need to encourage them to meet with a pastor or a Christian counselor), but we can all loan strength through our hope. Say something like, “This seems overwhelming, but I am confident God will demonstrate his faithfulness to you. Jesus promises us his kingdom when we are poor in spirit and that he will comfort us when we mourn (Matthew: 5).”
Always remember the power of prayer and if you need more support as you host your House Gathering, please let us know! We are here to help.