Jesus had a burden while attending the local churches of his day, which were the synagogues: “People were not getting their spiritual needs met by just attending church.”
“Naye Yesu alizunguka katika miji yote na vijiji, akifundisha katika masinagogi yao, na kuihubiri injili ya ufalme, na kuponya magonjwa yote na kila ugonjwa kati ya watu. Lakini alipowaona watu wengi, akawasikitikia, kwa sababu walizimia na wametawanyika kama kondoo asiye na mchungaji. " ~ Mathayo 9: 35-36
We think gathering people to church is shepherding them. But Jesus is showing us that he has a different way of shepherding people, which goes beyond attending church. Jesus believed that we should go to church every week, because he did it himself, and that is where he taught. But he also showed us more is needed. He saw the heart of these people. And in their heart they were not connected to God. In their heart they were spiritually “scattered and fainting.”
Something else needs to be done. And so Jesus also taught us how a good shepherd works to gather and connect with his people.
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” ~ John 10:14
Knowing them is not just their name. It is understanding what the Holy Ghost has been speaking to their heart, and what they have done with it. Who they really are, is who they are in their heart. And what the Holy Ghost has already said to them matters the most, not what we think needs to be said. Consequently we need to learn to ask questions, and to listen. And that type of conversation will never happen during the regular worship service.
And so to solve this church spiritual problem of being “scattered and fainting”, Jesus sent his own apostles back to these same people. But this time he sent them to their homes. And he didn’t send them there to talk about church. He specifically told them they needed to focus on the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom where God is on the throne of their hearts. God needs to become their first love.
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matthew 10:7
“And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.” ~ Matthew 10:12-13
The reality is that people will never open up their real heart needs, in a large gathering. Things of the heart are sensitive, and they require trust. So a home meeting must first create a safe place for the heart needs to be expressed. And then it must be managed in such a way that people are opening up and talking, not just the church leader talking. Home meetings cannot be run like a church service, otherwise we will get the same result, and there’ll be no point to doing a home meeting.
So now, how do we conduct a home meeting? Here are some good guidelines to help us to be successful in drawing people closer to God, and to get their spiritual needs met
1 – Only sing one song at most, if any at all. Our focus needs to be on talking about the kingdom of the heart. To understand what God is saying to us. If we do all the singing, when does God get to be heard? When do we find out what he has already been speaking to others? Home Bible Study meetings are for hearing and understanding God’s voice and opinion, not all our singing.
2 – Never pray like you have been praying at church. Jesus told us:
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” ~ Matthew 18:19-20
We must agree in prayer, to get our prayers answered. That means we don’t come together to pray separate prayers, all at the same time. And we must first listen to the prayer requests of each, so that we know what we are agreeing in prayer about. And then as we pray, we have one person to pray, and everyone else listens to agree with the words they are saying in prayer. Why do we do it this way? Because Jesus instructed us to do so, in order to get our prayers answered. We don’t want to just be praying lots of prayers with no answer. And in order to agree, we need to speak clearly and understand what is said. Because Jesus wants us to understand what we are praying for, so that our faith will grow when we get the answer.
3 – Find out what God has been speaking to the heart of each individual. (Yes, God has already been speaking to the heart of every individual!) Don’t come with a pre-planned lesson. Start the conversation, by joining into the conversation that God has already started with them in their heart. And then study the scriptures to clarify and understand what God is saying to their heart.
Again, discover and understand God’s conversation. The one he has already started. And then study the scriptures for examples and instruction on what to do with what God has already burdened them with.
Be careful to not judge what they have opened up about. That will quickly kill trust. Listen to understand why. And so rather than judge, inquire with them as to why they believe God is speaking to them that way. Sometimes they can mistaken the voice of the enemy as the voice of God. Questions will help you to understand where the voice is coming from. Sometimes people are told from a child that they are something that is not true. But they have believed what somebody else told them all their life. You must ask to find out where people get their thinking from.
Now if no others are ready yet to open up their hearts in the conversation, lead with what God has been speaking to you. Set the example by starting with yourself. Think of a good example where God has spoken to your heart, and then what you did with it, and what the result was. Be prepared to lead by opening up yourself first. Others will then be more likely to trust and open up also.
If people are not willing to open up, it could be a number of reasons:
- They don’t trust someone who is present. Sometimes there are abusive and controlling people in the family. You may need to invite that quiet person to another home, where they feel safe.
- It could be that past experiences have taught them to not trust anyone. Trust may take some time. Allow them to be silent and just listen for as long as they need to build trust.
- Sometimes certain people in the home meeting will have a tendency to fill the meeting with their own speaking. While others are very shy and quiet. As a leader you sometimes need to say, “let us hear and listen for a while to (the quiet person).”