One great way to grow in the Lord is to live together in fellowship with other believers. In biblical times, living in community with other Christians was the norm, not the exception. This would normally occur either in one's own Christian family or with extended family. Christ apparently lived with his disciples, as did Paul with apostolic bands with whom he traveled. Living alone in an apartment is a modern phenomenon.
Dwell encourages people to live in community, and many singles in the church have decided to do so by renting houses together. These houses are called ministry houses. Ministry houses are not the only way to live in fellowship, but they are a very good way for singles to enjoy the benefits of Christian community. In a ministry house, singles can develop a spiritual base that will last a lifetime, while serving the local church.
For these reasons, members need to understand that ministry houses are not rooming houses because ministry houses have added expectations. A ministry house is more like a sports team. If you were recruited to a sports team, it would be because of the contribution you could make to the team. By moving into the house, you agree to these extra expectations and willingly try to comply, or, if you change your mind, agree to move out. Be sure to read this paper carefully, so you understand what a ministry house is. This list of policies should enable believers to live together fruitfully, supporting one another while respecting each other's rights.
The Purpose of a Ministry House
A ministry house is a house of discipleship. It seeks to promote discipleship through learning and sharing a lifestyle committed and obedient to Christ.
- House members will generally have the opportunity to meet with an older believer for personal discipleship, or mentoring.
- We practice hospitality to those within and outside the church. Hospitality can cause extra work and interfere at times with personal privacy (Heb. 13:2; I Pet. 4:9).
- We try to share Christian love with each other and friends outside the house (Jn. 13:34; I Thess. 3:12; I Jn. 4:8).
- We learn to give sacrificially and unselfishly to the home church and to others (I Jn. 4:16).
- We try to provide an environment with some of the emotional support found in a family unit while learning how to grow and mature emotionally and spiritually without undue dependence on other people (Rom. 12:5).
- Ministry houses are expected to avoid illegal, dangerous, or unedifying behaviors.
To develop mature relationships with other Christians and non-Christians (Gal. 6:10).
- Making and maintaining friendships with non Christians implies learning to share God's love with those who don't know him (II Cor. 5:11; I Cor. 11:1; Mt. 5:13ff; love having its effect Jn. 13:35).
- Friendships with fellow Christians involve time spent socially, as well as regular involvement in fellowship meetings (Eph. 4:15, 29; I Pet. 3:8,9).
Areas of Commitment
House members should plan on regular involvement in:
- Ministry: Learning to serve others in the body of Christ by developing relationships and learning how to build up other believers.
- Spiritual growth: Learning and experience that help us gain relative victory over our sin areas while enhancing our relationship with God and others.
- Emotional maturity: Engaging in learning and interactions that tend to enhance character traits advanced in Scripture as typical of mature Christians (Gal. 5:22,23).
Specifically, we expect members to:
- Participate in the house meeting once a week.
- Regularly attend the appropriate home church, Central Teaching, and discipleship group as a regular diet of body life (Heb. 10:24,25 and Acts 2:42).
- Live responsibly in terms of performing your house job according to the schedule (Eph. 4:3ff; I Jn. 3:18). Members should also have a job or go to school regularly (2 Thess. 3:11,12). Laying around watching movies and playing video games is not an adequately healthy life for ministry houses. This also includes a commitment to taking any medications prescribed by your doctor.
- Pay your agreed upon rent, utilities, and additional expenses on time (I Thess. 3:11,12).
- Accept and initiate loving involvement with other roommates. Ministry houses are not for private living away from others. These houses are intended to promote interpersonal involvement. This includes timely and godly resolution of conflicts with other members or leaders. Home church leaders or college ministry leaders will help, if necessary, with conflict resolution.
- Be diligent to find and practice appropriate ministry roles in the local church. (I Cor. 12). Your house leadership and home church leadership will help you with advice and training, but you must exert initiative in finding ways to serve God.
- Practice hospitality as part of a team, when the house hosts events. This implies sharing in the work to set up and clean up, buying food, welcoming guests, etc.
- Respect the rights of others, allowing them to sleep and study, not using others' personal belongings without permission, and helping to keep shared open areas free of personal clutter, out of consideration for other roommates and visitors.
- Members should avoid offensive social practices that would negatively impact fellow members or guests. Out of control temper tantrums, drug abuse, drunkenness, and viewing pornography are examples of unacceptable behavior.
- Roommates should avoid both the appearance of evil and becoming a bad example by inappropriate behavior with dates. This includes staying out all night with dates and entertaining dates in your bedroom. Dates are welcome in the common areas.
- Members of the house should strive to show respect and care for surrounding neighbors. Each member should do his or her part to make the ministry house a blessing and a help to nearby residents.
- Members must agree in advance to move out of the house if the house leadership, in consultation with the college ministry leadership, judges them to be in violation of house rules.
- Respect and cooperate with house leadership.
- No rules will be added to this agreement without approval of the college ministry leadership, and the full knowledge and prior agreement of a majority of the existing membership of the house.
Special House Rules:
Some houses have decided to add special rules not mentioned above. All special rules must be approved in advance by the director of college ministry.
House Name ____________________________________________________________
Although Dwell Community Church leaders assist and advise house leaders, the houses are not Dwell property, and house leaders and members are not under the control of Dwell Community Church. Ministry house leaders are not employees of Dwell and such leadership is not an official office in the church. Therefore, Dwell cannot accept liability for accidents or errors in judgment on the part of ministry house leaders or members. Dwell also receives no fees or income from ministry houses.
We cannot guarantee a specific level of quality in training or living conditions. Living in a ministry house is similar to living in any other campus boarding house--the landlord normally carries liability insurance.
If, at any time, you become aware of a problem in your house that you believe will not be addressed adequately by your house or home church leadership, feel free to bring your complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will help you arrive at a Christ-centered resolution.