After interning within a congregation in North Canton, Pastor Brittian Bollenbacher and his family were sent to plant a church in Kent. Brittian and the new team of believers prayed over where the new Tree City Church was to meet.
“our vision is to see a world saturated with communities of disciples of Jesus Christ who live as the family of God proclaiming His gospel and bringing it to bear in every aspect of the lives of one another, our neighbors, and the nations beginning with Kent, Ohio…”
Until God moved them, the church met in the Bollenbacher’s home on Sunday mornings. Soon, the Lord made it clear to Brittian and his wife, Stephanie that theirs was to be a House Church, modeled after God’s commands from the New Testament.
Tree City Church (TCC) is fully invested in the lives of each member and also in reaching out to neighbors in Kent. Brittian and his daughter, Dom work for Habitat for Humanity, he as the construction manager and she as their Volunteer and Events Coordinator. All other members live in Kent, so their outreach is organic.
Just as Jesus lived among His disciples and the surrounding area, the greatest impact for this House Church is forming relationships and sharing the Gospel within the community.
Brittian taught in a Christian high school, led an adult Bible fellowship at the North Canton Church, and has preached to services of hundreds of people.
When asked if a House Church is harder, he said, “This [House Church] is easier. It’s hard to preach to a mixed crowd where some are not interested–not hungry. It’s fun to prepare a feast for people who are hungry, and we are hungry.”
Brittian has an infectious smile, and he is often sighted around town interacting with everyone from business men and women to street people.
“What I tell people the most about TCC is I’ve never been part of a church where I know for a fact that every member loves God more than they did six months ago, and even three months ago!”
“There are indeed many vibrant traditional churches, growing and making disciples. For now, God has placed me in a House Church. ~Brittian Bollenbacher
Another easier aspect as opposed to a larger “brick and mortar” church is that everyone takes part. Oftentimes the norm is that twenty percent of the congregation does eighty percent of the work, with many attenders coming for an hour each week and not investing in the life of the church. At TCC, everyone plays a role.
Brittian says a fun aspect of the House Church is, “I can wear my jammies and sit on my couch.” But the serious nature of worshiping a holy God is not lost on him. “Yes, I am the authority figure as the pastor, and I have a great responsibility to guard the truth, but we are all shepherding each other.”
Sunday morning worship often looks like this:
Breakfast at 8:30
The group meets for breakfast at 8:30 around the very large table in the Bollenbacher kitchen. Everyone brings a dish to share (there is never a shortage of food). During breakfast, Abigail, Brittian and Stephanie’s ten-year-old asks a “get to know you better” question and everyone takes a turn answering.
Clean up follows, and the children take part in the worship service too. (Other weeks, the group goes out for lunch after the service to be “known regulars” at local restaurants. When lunch is in the mix, the group starts at 9:00).
Service at 9:00
AT 9:00, or thereabouts, the service begins with newlywed, Abby sharing a Bible verse and starting the worship time with prayer.
Jon, the musician, leads the church in worship songs and follows with prayer. Christa, Brittian’s twelve-year-old produces the lyrics on Power Point.
Lisa then shares a passage or two of Scripture and leads the group in corporate prayer, with whoever is led praying aloud.
Afterward, Brittian shares the teaching the Lord has led him to for that week. As a group, TCC has a Bible reading plan, and his teaching is mostly from the scheduled reading.
After the teaching time, Jon plays more worship music and prays.
Grant (Abby’s husband) then leads the group in confession and communion. David, the Bollenbacher’s youngest recently said, “I love Tree City Church because I get to pass out communion stuff.”
Haley then reads Bible passages and/or other writings about tithing and she passes the collection box.
Jon usually leads one more worship song and Brittian closes with a benediction.
Before the members know it, it’s noon.
“Time flies when we have worship. It’s the best day of the week for me,” one member added.
Monday – In addition to Sunday mornings, TCC has a supper fellowship each Monday. Members are encouraged to invite non-believing friends so they can see the church in action and join in the Bible study if they desire.
Tuesday – The group meets Tuesday evenings between 8:00 and 9:00 for prayer
Thursday – The men meet for discipleship each Thursday morning at 5:30.
Friday – The women’s discipleship group meets at 6:30 every Friday morning, led by Stephanie.
Brittian added this: “There are indeed many vibrant traditional churches, growing and making disciples. For now, God has placed me in a House Church. The organic growth of the spiritual church is powerful, self-sustaining, and life-giving. As the Bible says in John 3:8, ‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Kingdom growth is like that. It’s structured to the point that it is conducive for life. Otherwise, it is uncontrollable, unpredictable, and untamed, much like God. I love the balance of that.”