Where to Office: Church or Home?

The question of where to office is front and center for church planters. In the early stages, there is no office. The coffeeshop or library is converted into a temporary office. As the church grows, office space becomes a financial possibility. We then rent a space or buy a building. But the question of where to office does not go away. Is it better to study at home, away from office distractions or to study at the office away from home distractions? Where should we office? Home or Church?

In striving to cultivate community, I have shifted the way I think about office and counseling time. I used to think that it was best to “get out of the house” to get admin work done. I scheduled most appointments around coffee and lunch, which meant that I was meeting “outside the house.” The home office was partially perceived as an “obstacle” to ministry, due to the distractions of kids and home life. I’ve even been considering renting some shared office space by diving into the coworking concept at places like Launchpad or Conjunctured (HT: JV). I’ve also reasoned that these are missional locations for meetings, but my thinking has changed, some.

What would it look like to apply the biblical concepts of “being the church” vs. “doing church” to our decision making on office space? What if we officed out of our homes more than “the office”? What if in choosing to office out of the home, we practiced a larger ecclesiology that is community-centered, not building-centered?

Over the past three weeks I have intentionally scheduled meetings at our home. Why? As a pastor, many of my meetings are people-focused, not task-focused. Many of them are interested in discipleship. At various levels, they want to share life and truth with me, and I certainly want to share it with them. If that’s the case, then why isolate them from my life, my family, and my home, only to be invited in when it is convenient, when we can roll out a meal and impress them with a clean house? Why relegate counseling to the sterile confines of a church office, when the grittiness of life can be shared within the warm, earthiness of a home? Here are some benefits I have experienced so far:

  • Double the Wisdom. My wife can weigh in, doubling and diversifying the shared wisdom.
  • Increased Community. After counseling we can easily invite people to stay for lunch or dinner.
  • Increased Laughter. At home we feel the freedom to laugh more. No public spaces to intrude upon.
  • Increased Discipleship. People get to see our family up close, with all our imperfections and graces on display.
  • Resources at Hand. Books are at fingertips for recommended reading.
  • Relaxed Atmosphere. People seem more at ease dropping by the house than out in public.

Should pastors really “go to the office”? Have we unnecessarily drawn the boundary lines between “church” and “home”? Would Paul “go to the office” if he were pastoring in America? Perhaps the whole question of “home” or “office” betrays a deficient view of the church, a failure to believe and practice home—family—as a subset of the church. Could it be that the church office actually offsets true church?