A SPIRIT-FILLED NETWORK OF HOUSE CHURCHES
Roots Church is a network of house churches based in Metro Detroit, Michigan. That means we worship God in small, interactive gatherings of Christians that meet in homes throughout our region and beyond. Twice each month, we gather for a large meeting in Canton, Michigan; but most of what we do is personal, relational, and deliberately small.
ON THIS PAGE:
In this video message, Art Thomas shares some of the history and experiences that led him to plan Roots Church as a network of house churches.
Discover how and why our church is so unique (even though we love other churches!), and allow the Lord to recalibrate your attention on the mission He has given all of us.
WHO WE ARE:
No matter how many people join Roots, we believe "church" is a family, not a production. It's people, not programs. And it starts in the home, not a big building.
Roots Church is probably unlike any typical church you might have experienced. We primarily focus on small gatherings of about five to twenty people who meet in homes for prayer, worship, friendship, an interactive study of the Bible, and meaningful experiences with God.
We consider ourselves disciples of Jesus, trusting Him to teach us through each other as we all express Him in unique ways through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day saying, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). We seek to know both, studying the written Scriptures while also expecting present-day encounters with the power of God. Many have reported miracles of healing, financial provision, relational restoration, and personal transformation, among many other signs and wonders by which the Lord testifies to the Good News of who Jesus is (Hebrews 2:1-4). In these ways, the timeless truth of the Bible comes to life in ways that impact our lives today.
By focusing our attention on these small "house church" meetings, Christianity ends up being what it was always intended to be: a personal and relational experience with God as we all seek to know Jesus deeply together. All "pastoral ministry" is handled at the house church level, meaning people receive more personal and relational interaction with their local ministry leader. And the close-knit, family-like atmosphere means you and others in the group can serve each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, and together meet tangible needs according to each one's ability.
If that sounds like what you're searching for, we'd love to meet you and help you connect with the best house church in your area. Click here to learn how to join us.
WHERE WE ARE FROM:
In 2005, Art Thomas was leading Sunday worship and weekly youth meetings at a young church he helped start in Fowlerville, Michigan. During that time he read about the relational value of experiencing church-life in small, interactive groups of believers. Together with his girlfriend (now wife), Robin, Art started a weekly meeting of young adults in Robin's parents' home. People grew rapidly in their faith. The group led friends and coworkers to Jesus, baptized them in bathtubs, and deeply engaged in each other's lives. The little group quickly grew to around 40 people spread across a small network that included the main group, a men's group, a ladies' group, and several Bible studies that met in workplaces during break time.
In 2008, Art and Robin were engaged, and Art left the church plant and young adult network to serve on staff at Robin's home church, Northville Christian Assembly of God. Around 2010, Art was given the responsibility of leading the church's young adult ministry, and he immediately focused it on small gatherings like his former network.
In 2011 Art began traveling and speaking internationally as an itinerant minister while continuing to lead the young adult group, though no longer serving as paid staff at his home church. But within a few years, the group had grown to a point where only a fraction of the young adults considered themselves part of Northville Christian Assembly, and some were about to "age out" according to the ministry's target age group. With the blessing of his pastor, Art handed off the church's official "young adult ministry" to a new leader in 2013 and continued with his weekly house church in Plymouth, Michigan.
In 2015, a couple young men in the group--James Loruss and Alex O'Connor--started another house church on a different night, reaching their own spheres of influence in Livonia, Michigan (a group that has since migrated to a new town). The two groups continued to grow and interact, celebrating wins with each other and helping each other from time to time.
Later in 2015, Art and James started discussing what it might look like to turn this idea into a recognized "church" without losing the deep relationships and rapid spiritual growth found in the small, intimate gatherings. Their dreaming led to developing the framework of what is today Roots Church.
Art and James presented their idea to their pastor, Brooks McElhenny, who recognized that God was stirring something but also wisely knew the time wasn't quite right to launch anything official. Pastor Brooks guided Art to continue to build the house church network organically and wait to officially give it a name until things reached a critical mass and became sustainable.
The two groups continued to meet and grow. Miracles, salvations, and other life-transforming encounters with God continued to be "normal" as the two small groups of believers weekly met to discuss and practice the Scriptures together.
Then in early 2018, God started to do something big. A woman named Kim visited Art's Thursday night house church and said, "I love this! Is it okay if I invite a bunch of friends?"
Knowing his house could only hold a certain number of people (and not wanting to lose the intimacy and interaction of small numbers), Art recommended starting a new group on Tuesday nights that could meet in Kim's home. The group started with a small handful of Kim's friends and grew within only a few months to around 20 people.
During that time, Alex and James' house church also multiplied, launching a new Thursday group led by a university student studying ministry, Alex Perry.
In August of that year, two more key pieces fell into place. First, JonMark Baker--a campus missionary with the Chi Alpha ministry at Lake Superior State University--called Art to say, "I feel like the Lord told me this is my last year leading Chi Alpha, and next year I'm supposed to move down to your area and help you plant a church." That same week, a newcomer in Art's new Tuesday church, Ron Dykes, took Art out to lunch and asked, "Have you considered turning this group into something bigger? I was the head trustee at a church of 300 people that decided to disband a few years ago, and I'd love to help you make something happen. I believe this thing could really take off."
With these two highly-qualified and experienced leaders joining the mix, it became clear that the time was ripe to start planning an official launch. Within a month, JonMark and Art both independently thought of the name "Roots Church," indicating to them that this was something the Lord might be speaking. Not only are we focusing on the "roots" of Christianity (when people met house to house), but it's also a "grassroots" movement that multiplies quickly as more and more people are trained and empowered to launch new house churches of their own.
Things immediately kicked into high-gear. The entire network came together for an evening of worship in September 2018. There forty-five people shared food together, sang together, prayed for each other, prophesied over one another, and started to realize we were all part of something bigger than our individual house churches. We met again in November, and the same things occurred. A tremendous sense of unity was over the entire group as people from different house churches interacted and had great conversation with each other.
Roots Church officially incorporated in the State of Michigan on August 2, 2019, and joined the General Council of the Assemblies of God on August 25, 2019.
In the months that followed, the network experienced a profound outpouring of God's Spirit. Many were revived, renewed, and transformed as the Holy Spirit made Himself known among us through miracles, prophecies, healings, and other signs of His presence.
On New Year's Eve, counting down to 2020, one of the women in Art's house church--Patty--prophesied that God would launch five new house churches out of that one group in the coming year. And despite the global pandemic that impacted so many, God fulfilled His word! The network more than doubled that year, and by 2022 contained about two hundred people.
This is how Roots Church began, and God has continued to bless us with new people ever since.
WHERE WE ARE HEADED:
Our Senior Leadership Team is invested in keeping things running smoothly by raising up house church leaders, casting vision, encouraging and training believers like you to minister like Jesus, and facilitating opportunities for spiritual and relational growth throughout our network.
We look forward to a day when hundreds and perhaps thousands of new and mature Christians are meeting in house churches in our region, being actively trained and equipped to partner with Jesus in His mission of making disciples who make disciples. The primary focus of our church will always be on the small group, but our large gatherings will continue to encourage overall unity, teamwork, and momentum.
Meanwhile, our Roots School of Ministry will continue to raise up qualified and experienced ministers who make disciples for Jesus, planting self-replicating house churches both locally and abroad. We believe we have a role to play in globally obeying Jesus and joining the worldwide Body of Christ in fulfilling His Great Commission to "make disciples of all nations."
Our goal is not to compete with any other local church. Instead we seek to reach the people no one else is reaching by doing the things no one else is doing. At the same time, where local ministries are being successful, we want to send people, helping to staff food banks, soup kitchens, and other community resources. And since we have no physical building of our own to maintain, we want to offer practical manpower to small churches in the area who may not have the resources for certain repairs or landscaping. In short, we want to promote unity among the various churches in our region by serving and blessing them as opportunities arise.
We believe we are pioneering a unique expression of "how to do church" that other church planters, missionaries, and even some established churches will want to replicate as global cultures evolve. By raising up leaders and helping people grow confident in the work of evangelism and disciple-making, we expect Roots Church to continue growing rapidly.
We believe the next great revival to impact our region--reaching masses of people who don't know Jesus and igniting sustained spiritual vibrancy among believers--will happen in living rooms, dining rooms, backyards, and basements. And we believe you are a big part of making that happen.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:
When you're part of our family at Roots Church, you have a voice. Each week in our house churches, there is time for every person present to share whatever it is they feel God has given to them. It's a safe, loving environment where it's okay to try and fail, and this gives people freedom to experiment with "Spiritual Gifts" (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) in a low-risk environment. If you think the Lord might have given you a prophetic message for the church, share it and let everyone else prayerfully discern like the Bible instructs. If you feel like God showed you something in the Bible that you never saw before, share it for everyone to discuss and think through together. If God has given you a song, a poem, a painting, or any other creative expression, feel free to share it. We want you to share because we want to experience the unique revelation of Jesus you carry.
All we ask is that we maintain a culture of honoring others above ourselves. That means keeping our own additions to each meeting concise so there's time to also celebrate the gifts God has given to others. If we're really in love with Jesus, we'll want to see the superior revelation of Him that happens when everyone in the meeting has a chance to share and discuss what He has given them--not just one or two. We aim for a culture of humility and honor in our house churches, and we all want to experience the new piece of Jesus that you bring to the mix.
Beyond this, perhaps you want to pioneer a new ministry. There is a place for you. Perhaps you want to launch a new house church. There is a place for you. Perhaps you are qualified and gifted to teach children. There is a place for you. Perhaps you don't like leading and consider yourself to be more of a helper to others behind the scenes. There is a place for you too. Whatever is on your heart to do, we'll help you find an outlet for your gifts, your personality, and your abilities.
In short, we believe you are important to our own relationships with Jesus, and we hope to be the same for you. We're all following Him together, and we're all working together to accomplish His will in the earth. As one big, local family of believers meeting in multiple homes throughout the week, we believe we can together bring the light, life, and love of Jesus to this entire region. If that's the sort of mission you want to join, we'd love to have you as part of our team!
Roots Church is designed to organically grow as God raises up new house church leaders among us. We believe in putting ministry in the hands of "ordinary believers," trusting the Christ-followers in our churches to do the everyday work of evangelism, prayer, community service, church planting, compassion ministry, and disciple-making. Accordingly, we know our network of house churches will grow numerically only as the people in our churches grow spiritually.
You have a unique personality, a unique story, and a unique purpose in God's plan. As such, you are designed to be a unique expression of Jesus in the earth.
We believe the fullest revelation of Jesus happens when the most people are representing Him in their own unique ways. Jesus is so incredible, so dynamic, and so magnificent that it takes all of us to reveal Him in His fullness.
MEET OUR TEAM
Our Senior Leadership Team works together to oversee and serve our network of house churches. Some of our staff minister nationally and internationally, and our team-based approach allows them to travel as needed while the main operations of our church continue unhindered.
You'll notice none of their titles include the word "pastor." That's because we believe the true "pastoral ministry" in our church happens at the house church level. Instead, these specific ministers help serve the overall network of house churches by promoting leadership development, spiritual vibrancy, financial health, seamless operations, and quality ministry to all ages and groups. Together they run our big gatherings, our school of ministry, our special events, our overall house church network, and more.
Art's role is to oversee our Senior Leadership Team and help you and others in our church step into your own God-given ministries in a healthy, relational, synergistic way.
My wife Robin and I have been planting and leading house churches since before we were married. It's the environment in which we've raised our two boys, Joey and JJ. And we believe it's the best setting for every believer to experience Jesus, express spiritual gifts, and grow as a family.
I'm also a missionary-evangelist who travels the world to train Christians, raise up pastors, plant churches, and more. My primary foreign missions work is in a remote village of Uganda called Wanenga. Together with a local pastor, Paul Basule, we have built an orphanage and primary school that serves hundreds of children, we've planted over 10 churches in remote villages, and we've trained over 1,000 African pastors.
Here in the States I frequently travel to other churches, primarily to teach about healing ministry, identity in Christ, hearing God, and evangelism.
I enjoy writing, graphic design, family time, intellectual conversation, local raw honey from around the world, ridiculous graphic T-shirts, and telling people I'm Batman. I also make a mean chili.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
My wife Emily and I have been married since 2004 and have three girls: Brooklyn, Bella, and Reagan.
I'm a builder by trade and enjoy working with wood-building and making things with my hands, which has led me to the mission field in Africa. There I've used those God-given skills, building structures for orphans while preaching the word of God in remote villages.
My wife and I both grew up in the church, but I've been engaged in our church's original house church since 2012--almost since it began. That's where I experienced the most growth in my Christian walk, and that's what I want to help others experience.
Our family enjoys spending time outdoors, and I also enjoy hunting with my oldest daughter.
I like to make people laugh, and I enjoy other people's company. I always enjoy a good cup of coffee and some dark chocolate.
Joe's role is to serve you and others in our church by helping organize large gatherings and events, overseeing our operations team, and maintaining the unity and health of various ministries throughout our church.
JonMark's role is to encourage, train, and oversee the leadership of your local house church and others while promoting the growth, health, and spiritual vibrancy of our entire network.
SPIRITUAL LIFE DIRECTOR
I am husband to Kara Baker, the most beautiful woman on earth, and father to Evan, who is objectively the cutest little boy to ever exist. I am a third generation pastor on both sides of my family. When I was 7 years old, a massive revival hit my church. This 3-year revival would forever ruin me for “church as usual”.
In 2011, I pioneered a campus ministry as a senior at Lake Superior State University. After graduation, I served as campus minister there until 2019. I saw God save, heal, and deliver many students and call some into ministry during my wife's and my tenure as campus ministers.
Now, along with serving on the Senior Leadership Team at Roots Church, I travel and hold revival and evangelistic meetings. I train and equip believers to share the Gospel with supernatural power in their daily lives.
I am a class clown, a coffee snob, and a foodie. I enjoy music, playing soccer and basketball, and wrestling with my son.
Coco, my beautiful wife and I have a wonderful blended family of 4 children and 5 grandkids. We both share a passion to serve God and his people and are very excited to be part of the “Roots” family.
Raised as a pastor’s kid, I’ve been involved in church my entire life and accepted Christ at a young age (although I was a bit wild in my teen years, on which I will not elaborate since Mom will probably read this).
Being involved in ministry is in my blood. My Father and mother previously served as pastors for 60+ years. My Grandparents on both sides of my family were pioneers of the gospel in their day. I’ve been involved in some capacity of ministry most of my life.
My background includes years of serving churches in various departments – administration (deacon and trustee), children, youth, bus ministry, worship, teaching, in-home small groups, and church start-ups.
I’m passionate about seeing people of all walks of life come to know Jesus and experience life-change through Him. I enjoy date night with Coco, going for walks, watching college football (Go Blue), movies, fine dining, Thanksgiving, Christmas, family events, and partying with the family of God.
Ron's role is to serve you and your family by maintaining the financial and legal health of our entire organization while bringing years of wisdom and experience to our leadership team.
Alex and Gracie's role is to promote healthy families throughout our church and advocate for your kids—from birth through high school—by overseeing children's ministry staff, arranging training opportunities for parents and personnel, and bringing young people together for meaningful friendships and spiritual growth.
ALEX & Gracie Perry
STUDENT MINISTRIES DIRECTORS
I’ve always been a rule-follower. Performing perfectly was my passion, and my mistakes brought me great shame and anxiety. But Jesus became my freedom. He covered me in perfect love and filled me with joy, making me not just a follower, but a daughter.
Now my passion is to share Him with others. I’m currently earning my Bachelor's in Ministry Leadership with a minor in Worship at Northpoint Bible College. I love all things creative--from acting to writing to singing and anything else I can get my hands on. I’m pursuing a life fueled by the Holy Spirit... and maybe an oat milk latte.
Growing up, I was the best Christian kid you could possibly be. I was always in church, always reading my Bible, and doing all of the Christian things… and then I met Jesus. Today, I am passionate about helping Christians like me realize that the Christian life is first about who God has made you to be, not how well you perform.
To that end, I’m working toward a Bachelor’s in Ministry Leadership at Northpoint Bible College with a minor in Psychology. I love doing anything mentally challenging including chess, reading, and innovating the best "dad-jokes." I’m a mostly-vegan, but I still love hanging out with my meat-eating friends (even more than I love kale).
Roots Church is a local network of house churches in the Metro Detroit region of Michigan that aims to have a global impact, multiplying the kingdom of God around the world.
Our focus is on locally establishing a Spirit-filled disciple-making movement, but we also see this as a prototype that we intentionally export to other regions as well. We do this through our online school of ministry, through missionary partnerships, and through ongoing relationships with house church network leaders around the world.
OUR VISION STATEMENT:
ONE MISSION. ONE FAMILY. MANY HOMES.
ONE MISSION: Like all Christians, our mission is to make disciples who make disciples. We make these disciples for Jesus and not ourselves. And while we recognize individual responsibility in this mission, we choose to accomplish it together.
ONE FAMILY: Our family is the family of God, which includes all believers, all over the world. But like any family, our closest relationships are those with whom we share a common culture and purpose. The Roots Church network is a family united in our shared vision, culture, and methodology.
MANY HOMES: As a house church network, we deliberately choose to emphasize small gatherings of five to twenty people. Each home group is a complete church experience, but we network together for greater impact in our region and beyond.
While we see ourselves as a house church network, our primary goal is not to plant house churches. Our primary goal is to make disciples. We do not desire to grow our network by “shuffling sheep” from one church to the next. We want to reach the unreached and raise up new believers to maturity in Christ.
We encourage and equip every believer to learn from Jesus (both personally and together) and share His message with anyone (both personally and together). We are a family of disciples who make disciples together.
Who We're Reaching:
Our region is blessed with many traditional churches that are effectively reaching tens of thousands of people. But this only represents less than 30% of the population. Accordingly, the Roots Church network aims to reach two key demographics:
People who need to know Jesus but are not interested in attending traditional churches (and would not necessarily be reached by them), and
Disenfranchised Christians who have left the traditional church but need fellowship with other believers.
Naturally, we also welcome mature Christians who wish to join us in reaching these people, but know that we are not a traditional church. If you prefer a more typical church environment, we would be happy to recommend another congregation.