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Why Homes?

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Short story

At Renew, we have chosen to meet in one or more homes connected by Zoom. We meet in homes because we love the community this sort of gathering generates. But we are ready to meet in multiple homes, connected by Zoom, because we love having the capacity to invite people and to grow.

Long story

Renew is a small church, established in late 2018. When we started, we realised that we had a good-sized space at the Groves' house (the first of our Zoom-connected hubs). Since we could all fit into this space (pre-COVID), we initially met there. Food was an important part of our fellowship, and we often shared lunch.

Quite soon we had the opportunity to meet in a small church building (Salt Mudgeeraba). Because we started by meeting in the afternoons, we could easily fit into this church's schedule. We enjoyed our time there, adapting to sharing afternoon tea, but unfortunately it didn't work very well for kids activities, which were an important focus for us.

And so we moved to the Robina Community Centre, where we could rent two rooms, one for church and one for Sunday School. We shared afternoon tea before our services, and things were moving along normally. Then COVID-19 struck and the community centres were all closed down. We reverted to meeting in homes. As restrictions increased we quickly adapted to Zoom meetings, designating certain homes as "hubs," each hosting the number of visitors permitted at the time.

Once this was over, we moved back to the Groves' home, and decided to look for a more permanent solution in 2021. But no sooner had we made that decision than we found ourselves in a "hotspot" with strict limits on home visitors again. To avoid this problem, we decided to again try the now-reopened community centre. However, restrictions made afternoon tea virtually impossible and killed any sense of community, so we found the experience sterile and lifeless.

We sat down again to think. What did we value about our gatherings? What did we need to make them work? How could we foster a community that thrived even in the uncertainty of COVID-19?

You see, we loved the relaxed nature of meeting in homes, and we wanted to maintain as much of that as possible. Meeting in homes also kept us grounded in the real world, rather than isolated in an industrial backwater. But we couldn't meet in a single house and hope to grow. Even at our existing size, we were stretching the limits of what was possible, especially in COVID-19 conditions. But we had seen how Zoom could work. With proper equipment and careful planning we thought we could make a multi-house church work.

Key distinctives are supported by homes

There are several key features to how we do church:

  • Fellowship over food
  • Intentional sharing of our walk with God
  • Solid Biblical preaching
  • Weekly Bible Study together (with option to Zoom in)
  • Regular, church-wide "connection" activities with all encouraged to be physically present, designed to encourage deep relationships

We don't need a special space to do these things, so we'll be doing them in one anothers' homes.

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FAQ

You meet in homes, aren't you a cult?

A cult (of Christianity) is a group that misinterprets the Bible. It is clear that the early church--the church we read about in the Bible--met in homes (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15, and Philemon 1-2).

How, then can meeting in homes be a misinterpretation of the Bible?

It is, of course, not traditional, but Christianity has a long history of breaking with tradition in order to better love Jesus.

Cults also have a habit of claiming exclusive knowledge or practice, and thus attempt to draw their members away from the "outside" world. At Renew we encourage our people to engage with their world, including with family and friends, other churches and groups, and their neighbourhoods and workplace. Furthermore, our pastoral team are all trained in conservative, evangelical Bible colleges, and continue in that tradition.

Finally, cults are focused on control. At Renew we have a very open decision-making process that allows everyone to have genuine input.

Apart from our meeting location, Renew is a Christian church very much in the mold of traditional, protestant churches.

How do you worship?

We have a worship team who play keyboard, guitar, and djembe. They all have mics so that Zoom participants can join in worship. However, we don't need to provide any amplification in the room, so live attendees get the beauty of acoustic worship.

(Oh, and the worship team are at the back, so we can focus on the worship instead of the team. Radical, eh?)

How does preaching work?

We have multiple preachers, and we all try to mix up our styles, although we do try to lean towards an interactive approach. Preachers also have a microphone so Zoom participants can hear them clearly.

How does Zoom fit in?

We show our Zoom participants on a big TV at the front of the room, and their voices come from there, so that they are like a part of the congregation. From their perspective, we provide two cameras, one showing the congregation (so they can join in) and one showing the preacher (during the sermon), so they can focus on the message. We use a waiting room to make sure we don't get Zoom bombed, so please contact us if you're planning on joining in on Zoom.

What about parking?

Good question! Our Zoom hubs all have plenty of street parking, so we don't annoy the neighbours or each other.

How do I know which door to go in?

Well, so long as you get the house right, it doesn't really matter. One of our three values is "gracious community," and we mean it.

(When we're at 17 Thomas Duncan Court, church is downstairs, though, just in case you're wondering.)