“If you are living incarnationally, practicing the presence of God should make a difference, right? It should alter the places where we live and work and play.” This was Kathy Elliott’s response when asked what House of Prayer for All Nations is all about.
In 2007 Tim and Kathy Elliott and a steering committee “launched a church, not a building”. They are a church in their neighbourhood, without buildings, or programs or most of the trappings associated with today’s evangelical church structure. Their Core Practices are to ‘Be Good News’, ‘Proclaim Good News’, ‘Partner for the Good News’, ‘Gather Around the Good News’, and ‘Grow Around the Good News: Multiplying Churches.’ They meet together in homes for worship, but much of this ‘church’ happens out on the street, in community gardens, community centres, one another’s homes or yards, and in local coffee shops.
They are in Kitchener, ON in four neighbourhoods, currently with two house churches. Families who call HOP their church are responsible for their own neighbourhoods – to meet their neighbours where they’re at, friend them, pray for them, gather them together, and share Jesus with them. They purposely keep the more formal aspects of the church simple so there is little expense involved. When HOP meets together for worship it is also a ‘recharging time’, preparing one another to go back into their neighbourhoods, as the church, the people of God. Their worship time has a flexible schedule to meet people’s needs. They begin with a shared meal and afterwards, employing collaborative leading, they get into the Scriptures. Their Core Values are to be Intentional, Incarnational, Intergenerational and Intercultural and this is reflected in the makeup of HOP as people of varying ages and stages and nationalities mingle together as the body of Christ. Over the years people have come to Christ, been discipled and have been sent out to be the church in their neighbourhoods. HOP recognizes strategic partnership with church and community programs can be helpful and have met this need by partnering with others in the vicinity, and this is working well for them.
A difficult aspect of ministry for HOP is dealing with the sometimes transitory nature of neighbourhoods as it can be difficult to replace individuals who have been highly involved. That is one of the reasons Glenn Gibson coined HOP as a 2-winged bird: it can migrate and respond to its context. They think of themselves like a 2-winged bird – a parish network of simple churches who live out their faith by the way they live in their neighbourhood AND an inter-cultural training network.
Having been on this journey themselves for many years, Tim and Kathy are eager to help followers of Jesus who want to use the way they live, work and play to transform their communities. “People do not want to come together just to be informed. They are looking for transformative learning”, says Kathy. With this in mind, Tim and Kathy have developed a Journey Team module to coach people as they practice a lifestyle-integrated approach. Module participants journey together, sharing learning and their own community engagement journey as they live out the Core Practices of House of Prayer. For information about this opportunity for transformative learning, and how to register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim and Kathy are both licensed with EMCC and Kathy is also an EMCC ordained minister.