From Living Room to Sanctuary: Why Dale Partridge is Going from ‘Home Church Pastor’ to ‘Traditional Church Planter’

by Dale Partridge

Since 2010, I have been a strong proponent of the biblical house church movement in the West—and I still am today. It was in this expression of the church that I found what many modern churches have deeply missed—intimacy, discipleship, and the sense of family that’s often absent among modern Christians.

After being part of a biblical house church for several years, I was sent out to establish our own plant in Bend, Oregon, in 2017. However, due to health reasons, our family relocated to the Southwest in 2021, where I planted another house church in Cottonwood, Arizona. As of writing this article, I am still serving as the pastor of that church. In 2019, Dr. Jason Barker and I launched a one-year, graduate-level training program for biblical house church planters called Reformation Seminary. Since its inception, we have enrolled nearly 100 men—many of whom went on to plant or pastor a biblical house church in their hometowns. In 2021, I compiled a book called How We Do House Church that offered clarity on the doctrines, convictions, and liturgical structure of these biblical home gatherings. Dr. Barker and I also produced a ten-part video series on our model that can be viewed here.

What made our ministry different from other house church ministries is that (a) we were reformed and confessional, and (b) we did not disapprove of the biblical traditional church. Too often, house church communities stray from sound doctrine by becoming independent and autonomous gatherings lacking theological accountability. In addition, many house churches are filled with disgruntled members of traditional churches who have left the building for a “more biblical” way of gathering. This has never been my position. Our biblical house church and the churches I have helped plant over the years have never held an elitist mentality around our model. We do believe house church is a very fruitful way to gather. We believe they offer a degree of intimacy, fellowship, discipleship, and pastoral care that is difficult to find in the traditional model. But we do not believe house church is “better” or “more biblical.”

Unveiling a New Chapter

Biblical house churches offer an excellent model, particularly for ministers seeking to establish churches in rural areas with limited options or regions facing various forms of persecution. They provide a low or minimal digital and physical footprint, are cost-effective to plant, and allow ministers to maintain a bi-vocational approach. More than that, they provide an environment for closeness that produces numerous blessings. As these churches grow, they raise up elders and may multiply into sister gatherings within the same area. This gathering style has proven beneficial to many Christians, including myself.

However, it’s important to acknowledge the limitations of the house church model. It can carry a stigma among Christians and pastors, making it challenging to plant and sustain. Additionally, due to its small and private nature, it may present difficulties in influencing a community for Christ. This limitation became particularly relevant for me as I hold to postmillennial eschatology, which aims to Christianize society.

Furthermore, as a public figure with a growing online ministry, the increasing number of people relocating from other cities and states to be part of our congregation prompted me to explore options for accommodating a larger number of attendees. Considering that we already have a building for our ministry’s headquarters and our Seminary and are actively seeking a larger space to establish a private 2/3 classical Christian school, it became evident that the ideal property for us would be a traditional church campus.

After discussing these matters with the leadership of our church and the Board of Directors of our ministry, the concept of planting a modest traditional church that incorporates the strengths of the house church model emerged as the most viable long-term solution. Following months of prayerful consideration and extensive dialogue with our current church members, we collectively decided as a church and ministry to pursue this path.

King’s Way Bible Church

In the Winter of 2024, I, along with the current elders, deacons, and members of our house church, plan to establish King’s Way Bible Church in Prescott, Arizona. Situated at an elevation of 5,000 ft. and blessed with four mild seasons, a vibrant community of young families, and its status as the seat of Yavapai County, Prescott presents a compelling opportunity to establish a strong and biblically grounded church that will make a lasting impact in our region.

The Courthouse in Prescott Square in the Fall

Distinctions and Commitments

Our mission is cultivate a community of Gospel-fluent families who proclaim Christ in Prescott. That is, our hope extends beyond mere familiarity with the Gospel but for each member to possess a deep understanding of its mechanics and be equipped to articulate it with clarity and precision. To fulfill this mission, King’s Way has made the following distinctions:

  1. We are Confessional
    As a church, we will hold to historic, evangelical Christianity as confessed in the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Westminster Confession of Faith. This commitment will offer theological clarity and accountability for church membership, discipleship, and church discipline.
  2. We are Expositional
    As a church, we hold to the faithful and systematic exposition of Scripture, allowing God’s Word to speak with authority, clarity, and relevance, illuminating its meaning, context, and application for the transformation of hearts and lives.
  3. We are Covenantal
    As a church, we emphasize the corporate nature of God’s people, which sets us apart from the prevailing individualistic mindset of today. We believe that God calls His people to covenant with one another, binding them together as a community with shared responsibilities, privileges, and blessings that foster a sense of interconnectedness among our members.

Moreover, King’s Way Bible Church will draw inspiration from the fruitful and biblical lessons we have learned in the house church model, incorporating them into our own unique approach through ten essential commitments:

  1. King’s Way is committed to intimacy.
    In order to honor this commitment, the size of our Lord’s Day assembly at King’s Way Bible Church will never exceed 400 individuals, including children. The Elders will actively anticipate growth and make necessary preparations to plant sister churches, both house churches and traditional churches, in the Prescott area to ensure that attendance does not surpass this capacity.
  2. King’s Way is committed to one service per Sunday.
    Multiple services can often feel like multiple churches, which can be confusing and disorienting for members. Instead, King’s Way is committed to one gathering where all members attend together, creating a sense of ecclesiastical unity and shared experience.
  3. King’s Way is committed to family-integrated worship.
    King’s Way will not create separate children’s or age-segregated ministries that gather during the Lord’s Day assembly. However, we will provide an on-site cry room for parents of babies to attend to their children while participating in the worship service.
  4. King’s Way is committed to nurturing congregational singing.
    We view worship as warfare, and although we do not restrict the use of instruments, we emphasize their modest use, prioritizing congregational singing of Psalms and Hymns that glorify God.
  5. King’s Way is committed to a post-assembly fellowship meal every Sunday.
    After the Lord’s Day gathering, members and their families will partake in a two-hour fellowship meal, fostering deep connections and embodying the love found in the Scriptures.
  6. King’s Way is committed to bi-vocational Elders.
    To guard against the temptation to compromise truth or congregational admonishments in favor of financial supporters, all King’s Way Elders will carry a second vocation alongside their pastoral duties and will not receive full-time salaries.
  7. King’s Way is committed to having one elder per ten member families and one deacon per twenty member families.
    Each member shall be assigned to a specific elder and deacon to ensure that adequate pastoral care is provided to all.
  8. King’s Way is committed to hosting weekly men’s and women’s meetings.
    These are not “small groups,” but men and women organized into their elder groups for greater fellowship, education, and prayer. The Elders will oversee all theological content presented at meetings for both men and women.
  9. King’s Way is committed to monthly prayer and psalm singing at the courthouse steps.
    As we acknowledge Christ’s kingship, we are dedicated to interceding for our leaders to surrender to the authority of Jesus. On the first Sunday evening of each month, members of King’s Way will convene at Prescott Square for a brief gathering of prayer and psalm singing.
  10. King’s Way is committed to fostering an on-site and face-to-face church experience.
    To prevent members from forsaking the gathering of the church and to prioritize the importance of physical attendance and fostering a strong sense of community, King’s Way Bible Church will not offer live streaming of our Sunday assembly but will provide recorded versions for later viewing.

Ultimately, we believe that embracing these distinctions and commitments will preserve the essence of the house church model while simultaneously reforming the traditional church to tenants of Scripture.

Our Planting Plan

Due to our relocation, not all of our current members will be joining us in Prescott. As of now, we have a dedicated group of ten families who are committed to the vision of King’s Way Bible Church. We are securing a building in the Prescott area and plan to gather for our first Lord’s Day assembly at 10am at the end of January, 2024.

We are actively praying for more local families to join us and for distant families who may feel led to relocate and support this new church plant. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about King’s Way Bible Church, please direct them to the following link for more information.

In the midst of this exciting new chapter, I humbly ask for your prayers. Planting and pastoring a traditional church is a fresh venture for me, and I appreciate your support as we embark on this journey. Our family is filled with anticipation for the season ahead and we trust that, over the coming decades, King’s Way Bible Church will make a lasting impact in Prescott.

Dale Partridge is the President of and holds a Graduate Certificate from Western Seminary. He is the author of several Christian books, including “The Manliness of Christ” and the bestselling children’s book “Jesus and My Gender.” He is also the host of the Real Christianity podcast and the lead pastor at King's Way Bible Church in Prescott, Arizona.

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