The house "church" movement

(Tony Hacker ) #1

Is this newer movement not so new? And is it biblical? As many involved with it say that it is “more biblical than meeting in a building.”

I’ve already been “forced” to deal with this topic a few years back when a coworker challenged me on it. I’ve landed on yes, no, maybe and depends.

What are some of your thoughts?

(SeanO) #2

@SpiritfilledBerean After reading a few articles and pondering it a bit, I think it really just depends on the house Church. If a house Church provides sound teaching and is rooted in a desire to serve God’s Kingdom rather than anti-authoritarianism, anti-intellectualism or dissatisfaction, I think it could be a Biblical expression of fellowship. Choosing whether or not to join a house Church would, like when considering any Church, require prayer and discernment.

Interesting Articles

  • strong on discipleship / life on life
  • many opportunities to lead / grow
  • relationship focused and simple

  • quality of teaching / worship generally lower
  • concerns over safety
  • organic nature bypasses some benefits of organizational structure / oversight

Sometimes, though, spiritual democracy can veer into anti-intellectualism. If God speaks directly to all of us, then maybe we don’t need any teachers at all. We don’t need to depend on anyone else, so we don’t need to study, either. Further education, such as seminary, supposedly becomes more of a hindrance than a help. Unfortunately, some house churches appeal to Christians who hold these views, too.

Based on the AP report, it’s hard to distinguish between house churches and the small groups so many evangelicals attend weekly.

At their best, house churches recall the dynamic fellowship of the early church, exemplified in Acts 2:42-27. Let us not forget, then, that Luke’s beautiful description begins with believers devoting themselves to the apostles’ authoritative teaching.

In conclusion, there is nothing unbiblical about Christians gathering together regularly in houses, or large buildings, or any other appropriate venue. The Bible does not, in fact, give any guidelines as to the proper gathering size or location. What it does do is explain what is to take place at those meetings (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2). So long as biblical teachings (orthodoxy) and practices (orthopraxy) are undertaken by those in assembly, it really does not matter what meeting format one chooses.

(Monty Dicksion) #3

I’ve observed such a thing for at least 15 years.

(Tony Hacker ) #4

Thank you SeanO! Again, my answer of yes, no, maybe and depends all summed up in your response. And again, the majority of those I’ve encountered are from the disgruntled with church “business” and institutional settings.
I even heard the statement quoting Matthew 18:20 NASB — “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” as defining the church. Im no theologian and may have to do a little searching on that one, but initially it doesn’t have the taste of proper context. I do not believe Jesus was saying that to define the church but just assuring the disciples that He is with them even when He’s not with them (get it?).
At the same time you mentioned anti- authoritarianism which seems to be one key component for those who have left thr more traditionally viewed churches and establishments.
Yet i believe without some form of authority then you are the equivalent of a life group or cell group.

Ps. I’ve also heard “that church is like a business and the pastor more like a CEO.” In running a church of 200 to 5000 I imagine you can’t escape from some “business” aspects in dealing with various things right?

(Tony Hacker ) #5

Thanks for your interest Monty. I guess when i think of “newer” i’m referring to something that has not been around for 50 plus years in popularity

(Timothy Loraditch) #6

@SpiritfilledBerean Christian house churches have been around since the first century and are mentioned in Acts 5:42. Frequently in world history, the church has had to abandon the larger buildings and organizations and meet in homes due to the political climate. I would be hard pressed to believe that since Jesus’ time there was ever a time when house churches did not exist in some form.

Most of the house churches I attended or was familiar with had members who were well connected with members of other house churches or larger organizations to maintain community and biblical correctness. I was not uncommon for some of these houses churches to get a little off base scripturally, but every larger organized church that I was familiar with was guilty of the same to some degree. We all know in part.

We can make a case for both sides of this issue, but trying to force one side onto another individual seems the unbiblical stance. There is no perfect church, just perfect peace found in being where God wants us.

Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name I will be there. Matt 18:20

(Timothy Loraditch) #8

This is certainly not an insignificant factor. I don’t think most of us are aware of the amount of money that even a small church can generate. We tend to think about church budgets as very limited, but in reality, churches tend to have a lot of money in American. It’s just that we spend a lot of money on big buildings, pastors salaries, staff, and projects etc. etc. etc.

Even in the smaller New England churches that I have been a part of the money was always a significant factor in drawing the focus off of Jesus.

(Renee Jeska) #9

I agree there is nothing anti-biblical either way of meeting for Church. The question I would ask is why was the home Church started? One needs to be sure it’s not coming out of an unfogiven divide between communities. I’m not referring to clear understanding of differences and choosing to separate in love as Paul and Barnabas did. I am referring to a divided that is based on anger and pride.

(SeanO) #10

@Renee_Jeska I agree it is not good when a new Church is founded because of a lack of unity in the Body that is rooted in anger / pride. The Church should be rooted and established in the love of Christ and not in man’s anger, which does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1). Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to house Churches - Church splits are a reality faced by more formally organized Churches as well.