Although the term we use—micro church—is a contemporary name, the concept is as old as the New Testament church we read about in the Scriptures. If we come to a place where we become honest with ourselves, many of our churches have become micro in number, but we continue to attempt to conduct church services as though we are larger in size. Some of these micro churches, often called house churches, are mentioned in the book of Acts (Acts 20:20). In Corinth, believers met in the home of Aquila and Priscilla (I Corinthians 16:19). In Colossae, we are told that the church was meeting in the home of Nympha (Colossians 4:15). A church also met in the home of Philemon (Philemon 2).
Because micro-churches usually meet in homes, onlookers often perceive a micro-church as a small group connected to a local church. However, micro-churches function differently. A small group or bible study is generally connected to a local community church, meeting with that body each weekend and in small groups during the week. Thousands of healthy community churches and megachurches, and macrochurches encourage small groups to meet during the week. But a micro church is different. A micro church is a complete church entity in and of itself.
Micro-churches share the same vision as believers in established churches. They believe that salvation is only through Jesus Christ and want to reach the world with the Good News. They long for authenticity. But they also believe that a different church structure will help restore the simplicity demonstrated by churches in the New Testament. This moves the church out of the current model used in the West and back to the organic community found in scripture. The left column of this chart sadly shows how many churches are operating today. The right column shows where the church needs to return to; the microform of the church can make this shift quickly. The desire is for the micro-church to help traditional churches return to this ministry model.
The micro-church movement is igniting a revival in the church, and this list is just the beginning of what they aim to achieve.
The micro-church can consist of 3 to 72 people, depending on the context in which a micro-church exists. Micro-churches are small. Therefore, they can meet anywhere—in a house, in a college dorm room, in a coffee shop, under a tree, or in a corporate boardroom. They meet in these locations and do not think of growing to a size requiring building construction to accommodate a larger group. Instead, they ask, “How can we multiply leaders and start more micro-churches?” “How can we walk together as micro church leaders?” And although some micro-churches meet on Sundays, many others meet at other times during the week. Micro-churches are simple and flexible.
However, as the size of the church grows, it becomes essential if they have small groups within the micro church for discipleship and leadership training. The key to starting new groups is leadership. If leaders are not adequately prepared to start a new micro church, it is best to wait until they are. People who are involved in micro-churches without clear leadership often become disillusioned.
Discipleship principles in a micro-church (a small, intimate, and close-knit community of believers) should focus on fostering spiritual growth, building strong relationships, and equipping individuals to live out their faith. The following list aims to provide a fluid template for creating a strong discipleship culture that is not simply a cookie-cutter model.
Here are some foundational discipleship principles for a micro church:
Bible-Centered Teaching: The foundation of discipleship is the Word of God. Regularly study and teach the Bible, helping members to understand and apply its principles to their lives.
Intentional Relationships: Encourage close-knit relationships among members. Small groups provide an excellent accountability, support, and personal growth environment.
Prayer: Foster a culture of prayer within the micro church. Regular prayer meetings and intercession for each other can deepen spiritual growth and unity.
Spiritual Formation: Focus on developing spiritual disciplines such as meditation on scripture, fasting, and worship to help members grow in their faith.
Discipleship Pathway: Develop a clear pathway for new believers and existing members to grow in their faith. This could include classes, mentoring, and practical steps for spiritual development.
Service and Outreach: Encourage members to engage in service and outreach to the community. This includes evangelism, volunteering, and missions work to demonstrate God's love to others.
Accountability and Discipleship Groups: Create smaller discipleship or accountability groups within the micro church to foster deeper relationships and personal growth.
Holistic Discipleship: Teach that discipleship involves spiritual growth and emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Encourage members to take care of their whole selves.
Caring and Support: Show genuine care and support for one another in times of need or struggle. This creates an environment of trust and openness.
Leadership Development: Identify and nurture potential leaders within the micro church. Provide opportunities for them to grow and serve in leadership roles.
Scripture Memory: Encourage members to memorize and meditate on key Bible verses to deepen their understanding of the faith.
Celebrate Milestones: Celebrate important milestones in the faith journey of members, such as baptisms, conversions, or significant spiritual growth.
Continuous Learning: Emphasize the importance of lifelong learning and growth. Provide resources for members to continue their education and spiritual development.
Regular Gatherings: Maintain a consistent schedule for gatherings, whether weekly or bi-weekly, to build routine and continuity in the discipleship process.
Adaptability: Be open to adapting your discipleship approach based on your micro church's unique needs and characteristics. What works for one group may only work for one group.
Grace and Forgiveness: Emphasize the community's importance of grace and forgiveness. Everyone makes mistakes, and fostering an environment where people can seek forgiveness and restoration is essential.
Customizing these principles according to your micro-church's specific context, needs, and goals is crucial. The main aim is to establish an atmosphere that fosters personal growth in individuals' connections with God and with each other. All churches can benefit from adopting these principles, as when we return to a simpler form of church, it can provide us with the freedom to reach out to our community for Christ. It's important to honestly assess how well our churches are making disciples who can, in turn, make more disciples and build the church.