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How To Minister In Your Home

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This article is by no means comprehensive on the subject of home ministry. In fact, I believe it only touches the tip of the iceberg of what God intends our believing homes to be. It is meant as a reminder to believers that we are not here for our own glory and pleasure and that our homes are Ground Zero in life and ministry. May you find encouragement and be challenged to deeper levels of life in Christ through these words.

Since 1985, Melinda and I have actively ministered to others in our home. Because of all God has worked in our lives, we feel very compelled to share with others all He has done for us in the hope that they, too, might experience freedom and life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. To minister to others requires the building of relationships. Relationships with lost and hurting people usually do not develop within the confines of a church building. What we have discovered is that, due to the nature of my testimony, we attract people who would never darken the door of a church building. So how does one minister to people effectively from their living room?

When Melinda and I had had enough of traditional church, God led us out of our comfort zone and opened our eyes to a whole new way of €˜doing church€™. The standard format for church in America has always been €˜get the lost people to come to the church building so the pastor can lead them to Christ€™. My belief is that corporate gatherings of the body are for the equipping of the saints,€“ the believers, to do the work of ministry. Jesus commanded His disciples, followers,€“ to GO and make disciples. How do we do that when we have jobs and families and responsibilities,€“ the regular busyness of life - in modern day America?

It simply all boils down to relationship. Since the Lord has called us all to go and make disciples, He must have a way for us to do that practically. How many lost people go to your church? How many lost people live in your neighborhood? Attend your school? Sit across the cubicle from you at work? How are they going to come to know Jesus if no one ever tells them about Him? And how do we tell them in a way that does not scare them away? In a nutshell, we build relationships with them that are born out of our sincere desire to show them how valuable they are, and how much knowing them is worth our time and effort. We can preach with words all we want. What truly speaks to people are our actions.

When I was a boy of about 10 years of age, I already knew I struggled with same sex attraction. One day after Sunday School I overheard the men who taught me about God describing what they thought of homosexuals. Guess what I thought God thought about me? If these men of God thought this way and they knew God, then God must think I am disgusting and worthless as well. I am afraid that most of the world thinks the church thinks this way about them. In my own life, I had to go outside the traditional church to find someone who was willing to love me with the real love of Christ. In the coming years I heard sermon after sermon telling me that I was going to hell due to my lifestyle, and that there was no hope for someone like me. There are hopeless people all around us who believe God thinks of them in this way!

After college, a friend of mine found out about my struggle and lovingly confronted me. After my initial shock and running away, I came back to face him, and he told me he didn'€™t know all the answers to help me overcome my bondage, but that he did know THE Answer, Jesus. He went on to tell me that he would walk toward Jesus with me for however long it might take. He pledged to help me up when I would fall. He pledged to listen to my complaints and cry out to God with me. He purposed to be a shoulder to cry on whenever I felt like giving up. And this friend still walks with me over 35 years down the road from that moment! There would have been NO WAY I would ever share such struggles in my church because I would have been rejected. My point is this: I had to go outside the church walls to find help and hope. And that help and hope came in the form of someone simply valuing me enough to build a relationship with me. How do we take the love of Christ to those around us?

After Melinda and I were married we began ministering in a small group (a home church) in our home. We would invite people to come into the safe environment of our living room and made this declaration to them: whatever happens in the living room stays in the living room. In other words, we would provide a safe place for people to unburden their souls. Again, because of my own story of deliverance from homosexuality, our small home meetings would often attract those who struggled with same sex attraction, both male and female. We didn'€™t beat them over the head with the Bible, but we did try to simply love them and express value to them. It was not uncommon to have those diagnosed with AIDS sleep on our couch. It was not uncommon to minister to young women struggling with lesbianism. Our home became a sort of hospital for hurting, rejected, undesirable people. Rich. Poor. Mentally disabled. Abuse victims. Those who were involved in the occult. Drug users. You get the idea. Anyone whom Jesus would have ministered to, we opened our home to.

What we discovered is the same thing Melinda and I had discovered in our own spiritual journey. Lovingkindness led us to repentance, so maybe, just maybe, it would lead others to repentance as well. We were not light on telling people to repent of their sin either. but we couched our ministry in the love of God. We simply began to love people right where they were. We even included our children in the process. We set boundaries for those we ministered to and even gave them duties. Boundaries (like what hours they could call or come by) always bring security to all involved. With security comes peace and a sense of trust in which ministry is easily nurtured. Our children were taught to serve and make our many visitors feel welcome and loved. Our visitors were given tasks of helping us with our children and with simple tasks around the house. Our reason for assigning tasks? Doing something for someone else always builds one'€™s sense of worth and value. Jesus thought I was worth dying for, so I figure others are worth my time and effort as well!

For Melinda and me, ministry from our living room is the most fulfilling ministry of all. Since relationship is a two-way street, we receive just as much as we give and more. Just as my relationship with Christ is a sharing of heart and life with Him, so it should be with those I minister to. I open my heart to the Lord and He opens His heart to me. We exchange life through our love and communication. Ministry from our home has proven to be the same.

Home ministry can be as simple as one on one. Many are the times when I invite someone into my living room and I simply ask them how they are doing. When people feel safe and feel they can trust you, they will pour out their deepest hurts and secrets to you. Once those secrets and hurts are out in the open, they can be effectively dealt with. Just as that one willingly walked through my pain with me, I want to be that person for others, and the best place for me to do that is through my own home. People get to see me as I am and discover DJ is quite open and honest about his struggles, which, in turn, gives them the strength they need to open up and get honest with me and with God. John 8:32 says that we will know the truth and that the truth will set us free. The first step towards truth is our honesty. If honest confession is never made then truth, real freeing truth,€“ is never reached.

Here is a link to our home church, All In All Church.
When I go to minister to a small group in my home or in a one-on-one situation, I simply ask two questions of the Lord to prepare my heart for ministry:

1. Lord, would you give me a sense of what the needs of these people might be?

2. Lord, would you allow me to see them as You do and then allow me to feel what You feel towards them?

Growing up on a farm taught me much about ministering to the needs of people. Just as a cattleman or shepherd tends to his herd or flock, so must I tend to those the Lord puts in my charge. Cattle and sheep go astray and become susceptible to predators and prone to disease when not properly cared for. And the only way for that cattleman or shepherd to know how to tend that herd or flock is to know the CONDITION of that herd or flock. Hence, the very real need for building relationships with those you are ministering to.

In a very practical sense, what are the green pastures that world-wearied person needs to be led to? What will satisfy the thirst of that desperate soul? What can you do to help restore that one who has been emotionally broken by life? For the one who is blinded by the ravages of a sinful life, what can you do to lead them down a righteous path? What can you do to bring comfort to those who sorrow? What can you do to bring healing to that wounded heart? What can you do to prepare a feast of God'€™s presence in such a way that the lives of those you are ministering to would be nourished? A good shepherd LEADS his sheep and does not force them into submission. Relational love is the key.

If I am going to lead my sheep (those I minister to) then I must walk through the same valleys they walk through, and share how God brought me through. Some people believe a leader should never let those they lead see them sweat. My belief is that a leader walks in his humanity expressing his belief and trust in God to such a degree that others are compelled to follow. As a leader, as a minister in my home, I am careful to share without causing fear in the hearts of those I minister to. The key is that I share my humanity, my frailties, my failures, my real-life situations, in the context of God'€™s amazing love, power, and grace. What I have found is that when others see my transparency, they are drawn to desire the same freedom they sense in my life. This is not meant to be an arrogant statement, actually quite the opposite. I desperately need a Savior and I'€™m not afraid to live that out in my life.

Home ministry can be built around a Bible study or series of lessons, but the needs of those I am ministering to should never be set aside for my own agenda or lessons I may have planned. Sometimes the best lessons are caught and not taught as we go through the process of leading others to the Truth. God'€™s Word can be taught practically as we minister to a hurting soul. The gifts of the Holy Spirit can be taught as we practice their use in meeting the needs of others. Worship comes naturally when a soul is set free. As we minister to others in our homes, relationship is the natural by-product as well as the means to an end. We are all called to be ministers of reconciliation. We lead others to see their need to reconcile with God. We build relationships with others in order to live a healthy and abundant life. And as with the relationship between cells in the physical body, when one small cell spreads health to the cell struggling for life right next to it, healing comes to that cell, and that cell then turns around and ministers to the one next to it. Relationship is life. Our homes are essentially Ground Zero, the place life begins and the place life is nurtured.

What are you doing to make your home a ministry center? A hospital for the hurting? Ground Zero? I urge you to take steps to make your home a place where lost and wounded souls might find refuge, deliverance, salvation, and hope.

Dennis Jernigan

March 26, 2009 updated November 1, 2016

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all {these} things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NASB