Thursday, September 17, 2009

THE BIBLICAL HOUSE CHURCH

I've made a few comments about unBiblical house churches which have stirred some hysterical reactions, from coast to coast, Syracuse to LA......mostly cases of "hit dogs yelping"

Lest I be misunderstood by the brethren, however, I thought I might make a few observations about what I hope is the great majority of house churches--the Biblical ones.

Most of us agree that the majority of local churches today, which from here on will be referred to as "traditional" or "TC" for the sake of brevity, most of these are greatly flawed, ineffective, and often worse than that.

So, what goals should one have in mind, what motivation should one have, if he is starting a house church?

1. First, it must NOT be about you. This is the category I've been belaboring in other posts and I'll not dwell on it here. Churches started by men who are in rebellion, had their feelings hurt, etc, are not "churches" Local churches are established by God as the Holy Spirit leads Godly men, for the purpose of bringing glory to His name.

2. House churches must not be ingrown, insular, isolationist...as are so many TC. The commandment from God is still to "go out" to the world, not sit in your pew and wait for the lost to come to you....especially not come to you because your "church" looks like the Ringling Brothers Circus or MTV live.

3. House churches should spread by division, like cellular growth. I've seen TC with a dozen, or 20, or 30 preachers in the congregation. What in the world are they doing? Nearly all of us will be quick to complain that there are so few doctrinally-sound churches....but here we have the manpower to lead a dozen or two dozen congregations, men who are doctrinally sound.....and they are sitting in the same room on Sunday rather than ministering to the countless hundreds and thousands of folks who wish they had a "good church" to attend.

That's among the worst of mistakes in the TC which house churches should avoid.....it's quite avoidable if folks keep their eye on the Vision. Briefly, the Vision for house churches should be something like this:

It begins with a gathering of 6-10 of God's redeemed and over time, as God moves, grows to 40 or 50 or 100.......All during this growth time, it sends out (ordains) church planters to new areas, new neighborhoods, adjoining towns, and another 6-10 folks repeat the process. This kind of growth by division will lead to the Biblical idea of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, ends of the earth.

What you will not have is this TC stultification, this "delegation" of the Great Commission to "someone else"--contentment in financially supporting a few missionaries overseas or sending a check every month to some mission board; contentment in the hearts of 99% of the "church membership" who never lift a finger toward spreading the Gospel.

Neither then will the house church ever get into the Castle on the Corner mentality where the driving force in their congregation is to have the finest physical plant of any group in the city. They will never be Big.......because they keep splitting off and going rather than staying put and building $40 million "campuses"

Nor will they ever become "magnet" churches like some TC--those institutions which have become prominent perhaps even world-wide, known for strong preaching. Too often, these magnets attract people from far and wide who then end up in one city, one congregation, and who sit there for the rest of their lives enjoying the "good preaching, good teaching" but without a burden for those who can't make the long drive or move to another city and remain "churchless" and untaught. That kind of stuff is what I mean by "insular" and "ingrown"

(end of part 1)

5 comments:

Shannon L. Ayers said...

Hello Brother,
Good post on what a house church is/can/should be. I agree. May the Lord send out many laborers into the harvest...we don't have to have big, perfectly-organized organizations to spread the Gospel!
God bless,
Shannon

tupos said...

Bro. Ed. I enjoyed this blog. It hits at so many points often overlooked by the church culture today. The most encouraging point of the blog is that house churches must be fullfilling the Great Comission and Acts 1:8 or they are no different than the status quo. All churches, traditional to house, need to be about sound doctrine, the sharing of the Gospel, growing and giving birth (spiritually and numerically), as well as living a life of fellowship with God and other believers. Thank you for your perspective.

tupos said...

Bro. Ed. I enjoyed this blog. It hits at so many points often overlooked by the church culture today. The most encouraging point of the blog is that house churches must be fullfilling the Great Comission and Acts 1:8 or they are no different than the status quo. All churches, traditional to house, need to be about sound doctrine, the sharing of the Gospel, growing and giving birth (spiritually and numerically), as well as living a life of fellowship with God and other believers. Thank you for your perspective.

I can be quoted from the pulpit often saying, "It doen't matter how big we get. It matters how many new churches are born from here. How many missionaries we send. How many pastors we equip. And most certianly how many lives are touched for our Lord."

Warren said...

thank you Ed for this refreshing post.

Prodigal Knot said...

Preach it, Ed!

I agree heartily, especially with point #2 and tupos's comments. Like you, I find isolationism and a "cave dweller" mentality to be a huge drawback to these house churches. I know there are a few decent house churches, but I don't see them making waves, either.

I think many of them simply draw, like the emergents unfortunately, dis-affected folk out of the TC and are not really building the Kingdom, but rather fragmenting it. The Kingdom needs fixing and that can only be done by brave men who challenge people with the Word and a call to holy living, not cowards who run away and start their own clubs.