Emmaus FAQ's

From time to time we get asked some pretty serious questions when it comes to the how's and why's of Emmaus Road. We have sought here to answer some of the more common questions and we welcome you to contact us if you have a question that isn't addressed here! 



What is a “house church” and does it differ from a “small group”?

A house church is not just another set of meetings. It is a small group of friends...a spiritual family sharing biblical community. House churches are an expression of the larger church family happening in homes or other common place settings.


A house church is for those of us who still need to grow, who need a place to ask questions and who need others to both celebrate our victories and help us when we mess things up. It is not a group of perfect people, but a safe place to be real. It is a place to eat, play and rest, to learn together what it means to follow Christ. A place to study the Bible together, find spiritual mentoring, to be a spiritual mentor, to figure out together what it means to love our God wholeheartedly and our neighbors unselfishly.


A house church is a group of people learning what it means to carry each others burdens and confess sins to one another. We strive to share our resources and possessions to meet practical needs within the local church family, our neighborhoods, and around the world. A house church gathering may also include a baseball game or school play. It could be painting someone's house or watching a movie together. The essence of what makes a gathering of people a "house church" is about their vision and commitment to "doing life" together.

What does a typical gathering look like?

We usually start with a small social hour, including a potluck style meal. The group then gathers together in a living room for singing, sharing, praying and Bible discussion. We will also share in a simple communion time periodically. House churches consist of adults and families, single and married, young and old. Children, teenagers and college students are all part of the house church life. If we have a lot of young families and children in a house church, we typically have a lesson geared towards children during the adult Bible discussion time.

Do you miss having a “big church”? With big music, big programs, etc?

Yes and no. Big church can mean “corporate worship gatherings”, these celebrations usually consist of quality music, worship and preaching. There is a place for large meetings, because they encourage people to remember that they are part of something bigger than themselves. Large celebrations inspire faith and point the way forward for the whole community of house churches. Big church can also serve to centralize people and resources to make a broad impact and meet a variety of needs in their community and world. However, big church can also foster consumerism and anonymity, where people attend for an hour on Sunday morning or maybe participate in a program or two throughout the week, but likely will miss out on becoming a part of a small spiritual family where they are known, accepted, and spurred on to love God and people more deeply.

What is the most common reason people seek out a house church as opposed to a traditional church?

Many people are looking for a faith community that is participatory, involved, produces accountability and reproduces leaders that may in turn start other house churches. We also believe that today’s generation of young people and families are seeking a community where the focus is on relationships, authenticity, the freedom to be creative, and inter-generational connections. Why house church? For community, for love, for help, for growth. But remember, a house church is not a utopia — in fact, it can be a bit messy at times. Because life is messy!

Is there a place for the “mega-church” in present day Christianity?

Definitely! No one model of church will minister to the world by itself. We need all kinds of churches to engage all kinds of people. In the earliest parts of the Book of Acts, we read of thousands of followers of Jesus gathered together for worship daily. Mega-churches today attract thousands people with their state of the art technology, music, preaching and large buffet of programs. To compliment these large-scale amenities, some mega-churches supplement with smaller independent groups called “community groups” or “life groups”.

Are there any Elders or paid staff in Emmaus Road and what do they do? Elders

We believe the Bible teaches the necessity and value of elders within a local church, which is God-ordained leadership that has been acknowledged by fellow believers as men that possess elder qualifications. (I Timothy 3:1-7)


Emmaus Road Community Lead Pastor

We believe that the Bible affirms the value of having a lead pastor to care, enable and equip the people of God (particular among other leaders and spiritual parents), to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). The lead pastor also coordinates and facilitates the monthly All Gatherings and other community wide events.


Recommended reading to supplement this subject of leadership: “Starting A House Church” by Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung, chapters 4 and 13

What do you do with the kids?

We can’t forget that we’re following a guy, namely Jesus, that highly values children! He told his own disciples to “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14


Kids are always welcome and encouraged to be involved with the house churches. The family integrated environment is beneficial to the kids, as well as the adults. For that reason, we have children remain with us for much of the time during our house church gatherings. We do provide our children with some structured “kids church” time with trusted adults during a portion of the house church, particularly the adult Bible discussion time. We encourage children to begin sharing responsibility and are treated with utmost respect and value.

What about giving of tithes and offerings?

We encourage those involved with Emmaus Road to give to the monthly expenses and financial commitments we have as a church family, such as pastoral support, traveling missionaries, and caring for people who belong to Emmaus Road when there is a need. In the same way, we also encourage giving to other ministries and needs directly and outside of Emmaus Road. As a helpful reminder, you may consider setting up Automatic Bill Payment through your bank that deducts your giving/tithing automatically from your checking or savings account each month. For more info or to give online, click here.

Who leads a House Church?

Each house church has point leaders that are followers of Jesus, serve as spiritual parents, and understand their calling to live as multiplying disciples of Jesus. These leaders facilitate the involvement of everyone in the group. House church leaders have made a covenant with the Emmaus Road elders and the greater community of house churches, to help move a spiritual family forward in the vision and values of Emmaus Road. These leaders help people discover and share their giftedness for the health of the group.


House church leaders also help keep the group thinking about growing and expanded. When a house church grows to a size of approximately 12-15 people, they are encouraged to focus on starting a new house church out of the original group. House church leaders primarily are volunteer leaders within the church family with full-time professions else where, while giving servant leadership, oversight and shepherding to a house church. A House church leader does not need formal Bible school or seminary training, but rather someone who can biblically shepherd a spiritual family toward an understanding of how God affects every area of life.


The following is an inventory of house church leader characteristics:

Christ follower – a passion for Christ and a clear testimony of Christ’s work in their life

Character – leading an authentic life according to the Word of God

Calling – called to serve, care and spiritually lead people, believers and unbelievers alike

Church – support the vision, values and doctrine of the Emmaus Road Community

Competence – “elder qualifications” ...I Timothy 3:1- 7

Compatibility – having the temperament, giftedness and passion for spiritual leadership, including the knowledge and ability to teach the Bible, and in turn help others learn how to study, apply and teach (2 Timothy 2:15)

Commitment – above all committed to seeing lives transformed by Jesus Christ

Catalyst – a passion to multiply his or her life in Christ into the life of others (2 Timothy 2:2)

Is attending a house church biblical?

The Church is not a building or a meeting, it’s simply people, For the first three centuries of the church, known as Early Christianity, Christians typically met in homes, if only because intermittent persecution (before the Edict of Milan in 313) did not allow the erection of public church buildings. Local church expressions come in all different shapes, sizes and styles. Throughout the many references to the local church in the New Testament, it is clear that the local church physically gathered at certain times and places. These were regular connecting points to worship, study the God’s Word, share meals, pray, play and encourage one another (Acts 2:42-27).


Here are some examples of churches gathered in homes throughout the New Testament books:


“The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. ”Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” I Cor 16:19

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.” Romans 16:3-5

“Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.” Colossians 4:15

“To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker—also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home.” Philemon 1:1-2

What are some books I could read on the topic of house church?

General audience:

Geared towards those in leadership roles: