On This Page:
Who we are (what makes us unique)
Where we are from (our history)
Where we are headed (our vision)
What this means for you (your role in our story)
Who We Are:
No matter how big our church grows, 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. Contact us today to meet with someone from our staff who will have a conversation with you and help you find a healthy house church for you and any family who will be joining you.
Where we are from
In 2005, Art Thomas was leading Sunday worship and weekly youth meetings at a church plant 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 also 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 today migrated to Novi, Michigan). 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 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 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.
Where We Are Headed
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, and disciple-making. Accordingly, we know our network of house churches will grow numerically only as the people in our churches grow spiritually.
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 raise up qualified and experienced ministers who will 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 grow 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
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.
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!