During the next ten years our church grew to well over 2,000 believers scattered throughout communities in a seven-county area of Pennsylvania. These believers met in more than 100 small groups during the week and on Sunday mornings came together in clusters of small groups (congregations) in five different locations. The whole church came together five or six times each year on a Sunday morning in a large gymnasium or at a local park amphitheater for a corporate celebration. There was a real sense of excitement and enthusiasm about the things of God.
Whenever congregations renting facilities for Sunday-morning celebrations outgrew a building, we moved to a larger one, started a new celebration in another location, or started two or three celebration meetings in the same building on a Sunday. But the focus was not on the Sunday-morning meetings. The focus was on the church meeting from house to house throughout our communities each week in small groups.
Our goal was to multiply the small groups and celebrations and begin new Sunday-morning celebrations and new small groups in other areas as God gave the increase. We also found that by renting buildings economically, we had more money available to use for world missions. During these years, churches were planted in Scotland, Brazil, and Kenya. These overseas churches were built on Jesus Christ and on these same underground house-to-house principles.
We had embraced a new wineskin, and the Lord had grown us from a small fellowship of young believers into a church-planting movement. But there were storms ahead. We would learn we had to embrace not only a new wineskin but the Vine!
Larry Kreider, House to House: Growing Healthy Small Groups and House Churches in the 21st Century (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2009).