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PROJECT TOPIC: THE IMPACT OF HOUSE FELLOWSHIP SYSTEM ON THE LIFE OF AN INDIVIDUAL CHURCH MEMBER BY USING LIVING FAITH CHURCH IN BENIN CITY, EDO STATE, NIGERIA AS A CASE STUDY.

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Biblically, the first Christian churches began with basic house fellowshipas in the cases of Priscilla and Aquila (Rom. 16:3, 5), Nymphas (Col. 4:15), and Philemon (Philemon 1, 2). When several home groups became established in a city, they eventually constructed a place of worship. However, evangelism and church growth activities centered in home cell groups. Research shows that most people attend church, not because they understand and accept all the doctrines, but because it offers them a Christian support system. Conversely, most people stop attending church, not because they disbelieve the church’s doctrines, but because they do not find in that church the support they need. And one of the most successful, time-tested Christian support systems is the well-run home cell group.

First, the home cell setting gives more fellowship than the regular church setting. In a church situation, people may visit with each other before and after service, but this barely meets the definition of true fellowship which requires sharing, warmth, caring, and healing. Second, the informal and relaxed environments of the home provides for free and open discussion and involvement. Even those not ready to identify with our church feel comfortable in the nonthreatening atmosphere of a home group. Third, the home group meetings in a very personal way care for the three areas in which people who come to worship need help: the inreach in which God reaches into people through His Word, the outreach in which people reach out to people through witness, and the upreach in which people reach up to God through prayer.

No method of Bible study is entirely free of subjectivity. The inductive method, however, has less risk of human contamination than other methods. To teach inductively, the group leader need not be a qualified theologian. All that is required is a basic understanding of the principles of inductive inquiry. The deductive method starts with a preset position, such as the secret rapture, or premillennialism, and seeks support from the Bible for this belief. By contrast, the inductive method does not start with a preset position. There are no such positions at all in the inductive method. We do not bring positions to the Bible; we seek them from the Bible. We do not judge the Bible by our teachings; we judge our teachings by the Bible. We study the Bible from the inside out.

Most home groups have their sharing time at the beginning of each meeting. This is the time to reach out to one another for help and with help. The sharing of joys and blessings and disappointments is a natural way to begin a meeting. It acts as a relief valve for emotions and tensions, and creates empathy within the group. Sharing time helps group members to grasp what God’s Word is saying about how they should relate to their real-life circumstances. Members also thus share “one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2, NKJV). Sharing, of course, requires trust. A betrayal of trust can undo in one brief moment a relationship that has taken several months to build. The purpose of every home group is to build the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11, 12). This building process should increase the body in quantity as well as in quality. The group is to be built up numerically by inviting nongroup people into its fellow ship, and it is to be built up spiritually by helping each member to come to maturity in Christ. Both goals go hand in hand. One goal does not precede or negate the other. Personal growth is enhanced by sharing the gospel with others. Where sharing lacks, spirituality suffers.


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