When Jonathan Benedetti resigned from his position as a church’s music minister, it wasn’t because he got a better offer at another church.
It was because he wanted his house to be one.
House churches have become a growing trend in the last few years. In 2009, Barna Research Group found “the number of participants varies significantly according to the definition used, ranging from a minimum of 4 percent of the adult population to a maximum of 33 percent.”
“The most prolific response comes when adults are asked if they have “experienced God or expressed (their) faith in God in a house church or simple church meeting in the past month,” regardless of whether it is affiliated with some other church entity,” according to the report. “This definition, certainly the broadest of the six variations tested, finds that one-third of adults claim to have been involved in such a gathering during the preceding month.”
Benedetti led a small group associated with Tyler Christian Fellowship since 2005.
“I grew up in that church,” he said. “I have really good relationships with the people there.”
But he and his family live in Jacksonville, and he was increasingly feeling like he should practice his faith in the city in which he lives.
“We were really praying about that,” he said. “We felt our primary emphasis should be on building relationships rather than on a church building and worship services.”
Benedetti stepped down from his position earlier last year, but stayed on to help with the transition. The church held a commissioning service traditionally held for missionaries for his family on Oct. 27.
“The pastor, elders and congregation prayed for us and ‘sent us out’ to start Koinonia,” he said.
They call the group “Koinonia,” which is Greek for “fellowship.” The first official meeting was Nov. 2.
“The challenge in talking to people is that it’s a little different paradigm from what people think of as a church,” Benedetti said.
The group meets on Saturday nights at 5 p.m. They always share a meal at the beginning, then have the formal meeting where they pray for one another and have Bible study or a discussion. Benedetti said his favorite feature is that the group has communion every week.
Benedetti estimates the group averages about 16 adults and eight children. He especially enjoys that their communion ignites the children’s curiosity.
“It brings up good questions and good conversation,” he said.
While Benedetti can’t hold as many people in his house as a standard church can, he’s hoping the movement will spread and other friends and Christians will open their homes.
“We hope it will grow,” he said. “Our vision was to start a network of house churches.”