Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our Experience with Church Multiplication

Xenos Christian Fellowship ( began planting house churches in Columbus Ohio in1970 during the Jesus revolution. During the next 37 years, scores of house churches were planted in Central Ohio. Together, they formed an association viewed as a single local church, along the lines of large city churches in the New Testament. A single eldership oversees the ministry of 850 leaders (“servants” “ministers” or “deacons” in the New Testament).

Today, Xenos is an association of around 270 house churches with over 5000 people attending. Each house church sees its goal as self-replication from within. The group is known for strong personal discipleship and evangelism that penetrates the - non Christian community in Columbus. Unlike house church planting movements that are completely spontaneous, Xenos house churches need to gain approval from the central eldership for new church plants. Each church is team-led with 3-6 leaders who must qualify for the role in terms of personal character, learning, and proven ministry competence.

Today, I am most excited about the church multiplication movement growing in the huge campus area formed by the proximity of Ohio State University (50,000+ students) and Columbus State University (20,000+ students). In this area, Xenos has grown during the past 10 years from three to thirty student-aged house churches, while planting eight additional house churches based on married graduates moving into family life. The average size of each group is 23 students. Like other Xenos home churches, these groups are led by teams of leaders who have completed formal classroom instruction, have won non Christians to faith, and have mentored them in personal discipleship.

Xenos house churches also operate “cell groups.” These groups are all male or female, and center on discipleship, in-depth study, and accountability. Campus house churches also operate “ministry houses.” These are houses of discipleship, where 6 to 12 students live together, learning how to meet others’ needs, hosting fellowship events, and reaching out to the non Christian community. The group currently operates 65 such houses.

A lot of the house churches we have contacted around the country are older, and that usually means something very different in terms of the ethos of the groups. We are excited to see student-aged believers taking the ‘bit in their mouth’ so to speak, and running off with this expanding movement. Most of the 700+ students met Christ at Xenos, so we don’t see any of the traditional church mentality that can be so hard to break out of. The majority of our students are eager for the day they can lead their own house church.

My daughter and I wrote our book, Organic Disciplemaking to help train upcoming disciple makers in the group. There you can read a good description of how this kind of church planting group runs.


Bill K said...

Do the 30 college homechurches really operate only 5 ministry houses? This seems disproportionately small.

Dennis said...

Good catch! I don't know what happened to my 6!