Close to Home

14.6.2016 | Bible Study, Congregational Life, Close to Home,

A resource to help build an integrated, intergenerational community of God’s people



A movement has grown in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to rediscover and recapture the importance of covenant theology for the Church today.

It is called 'Close to Home' because it seeks to shape church life to keep our children and young people feeling right at home in a joined up community of all ages, a place we all want them to stay.

This resource is designed to help you investigate what that means in your local congregation.

'Close to Home' is a resource for elders, ministers, parents, youth and children's leaders, others in leadership roles; members of home groups, youth fellowships, midweeks and PW.

The aim is to help you get your head around the basics of how covenant theology shapes our identity and impacts the basic things we do in church, then unpack various aspects of church life.

This will be in seven sessions:

1. What it is and why it matters – Covenant
2. Who we are – Identity
3. How we relate to each other – Community
4. How we develop faith at home – Family
5. How we celebrate – Sacrament
6. How we sing, pray and learn – Worship
7. How we connect with others – Welcome

Each session has three elements:

1. UNDERSTANDING from Scripture and knowledge, using Video interviews, a Bible study, and Research and literature.

2. REFLECTING on others' experiences, using Video clips amd Discussion questions.

3. APPLYING to our congregational life, using Questions.

Cost: Booklets are £2 each; DVDs are £3.50 each 

For further information or to order copies of each resource contact Congregational Life and Witness office. Email: or tel: +44 (0)28 9032 2284

Using the 'Close to Home' resource

Stories from congregations who have used the resource in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Following discussions in the previous two to three years about the value of covenant theology in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the new resource How to be a 'Close to Home' Congregation was launched in September 2016. It is a seven-session video and Bible study resource which can be used flexibly in any congregation in a variety of contexts. An encouraging number of congregations have already used the resource in different ways, and others are considering it for the future. To help those considering using it, stories of three different congregations in the denomination were captured on video to find out how they had used the resource and what kind of impact it had. This video can be used for personal reflection if considering using the resource, or can be shown in a group context such as a Kirk Session meeting. It could even be shown to a wider group as an introduction before the resource is used.

The video can be downloaded from the PCI's Vimeo site here.

Accompanying notes can be downloaded above.

A guide to using How to be a 'Close to Home' congregation

This guide will give you:

  • A vision for how this resource can be used in your congregation;
  • Possible options for how to use the resource;
  • Suggested timings and ways you can adjust the session to suit your situation;
  • A key learning point for each session;
  • Some thoughts on responses and discussion you might expect in response to the questions.
How to use this resource

How to be a ‘Close to Home’ congregation has been designed with flexibility in mind. The hope is that it will be useful in any congregation and adaptable to different settings according to the desired outcome there.

It can be used in home groups, evening services, midweek meetings, session meetings or specific organisations – it can be made to work whatever the situation.

The intention is to not only help create a stronger church family for those already there, but a more welcoming community for those not yet a part.

Download a guide to using How to be a 'Close to Home' congregation from the downloads box at the top of the page.

Close to Home Resources

There is a Close to Home section in the resources page of this website which will be updated on an ongoing basis.  This has a variety of resources which might be useful as you implement the principles of Close to Home in your context and can be searched according to each of the seven chapters of the booklet.

Close to Home Launch

Dr. Bryan Chapell, senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois, was the keynote speaker at the launch on 21st September 2016, of How to Be a 'Close to Home' congregation, a seven-session Bible study and video resource which seeks to help any member of any congregation understand the importance of covenant theology and how it practically shapes key areas of congregational life: community, family, worship, sacrament and welcome. Dr. Chapell spoke about the how Christian parents can pass on faith in their homes and what congregations can do to support them in this vital task.