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The benefit to the church of gathering in homes

Posted by on Apr 20, 2012 in blog links | 15 comments

The benefit to the church of gathering in homes

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post called “Why I’m Not A House Church Proponent.” In that post, I explained why I’m not pushing everyone towards “house church.”

Ross at “Viral Jesus” has written a very good post called “Why Do I Promote House Churches?” At first glance, it may appear that Ross and I are in disagreement. But, we’re not. I also agree that it is good for the church to gather together in homes.

In the post, Ross offers several reasons that he does NOT promote house churches. Then he explains why he does promote house churches.

It is the symbiotic combination of a number of factors together. House church structure does not get in the way of the Jesus’ agenda of spreading his Kingdom. That can’t be said of more traditional structures and if I love Jesus I love what He wants. He wants His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I am to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.

Unfortunately, I’ve known some “house churches” that were more structured and controlling than groups of believers that meet in traditional church buildings. But, I definitely understand what Ross is talking about.

His post is very good, and I’d definitely recommend reading it.

Primarily, we should ask ourselves this: Is our structure and/or meeting location limiting our life together in Jesus Christ? If it is, then we should change where we are meeting together.


15 Comments

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  1. 4-20-2012

    Alan:
    I havn’t time to read previous posts and may be duplicating comments here, and if so, I apologize.
    I think we miss Gods point when we use words like ‘house’ to describe church. There was no model, or conversation of models of church in the NT, because men had not yet co-opted the church as they had the Hebrew temple. They talked of Judaism as if it was a model, and shadow. In Judaism, the mystery and hidden shadow pictures of the temple and priesthood had been understood by only a spiritually minded few throughout the OT, but Jesus unlocked them to all the NT saints, thru Peter and Paul.
    But, like the Jews, we have collectively lost our first love with Jesus, and with it, the mystery and wisdom of Christ revealed thru us, as a temple and nation of priests. That mystery is, as Paul taught, captured in the relationship between husband and wife.
    We are like Jews, who are caught up in externals, missing the fact that they are symbols.
    The language we use today reflects our stumbling attempt to be something we cannot yet be, because we lost the foundation.
    That foundation is our personal daily family and community relationships, and is something the Jews had which we have not mined for valuable treasures of wisdom.
    Our family’s are a mess, and therefore the church is a mess, and where we meet,and to some degree how we meet in houses, temples or barnyards probably wont rebuild our foundations.
    Meeting together, one anothering and encouraging each other as we are is a good biblical start, but I think we need talk about how much sand there is in our foundation mortar.
    Houses are like temples, they are not homes. Homes are family’s and others that are united in love and commitment, whether they disagree or not, who happen to live in houses.
    We have (house) churches that are comprised of a mixture of selfish and loving family’s, and we have conventions and books and media, some of which emanate from hurts, bitterness, pride and competing visions and experience in Christ.
    The church landscape reflects the home landscape, which is the correct order, but which reveals how far short we fall in representing the Trinity fellowship of God.
    We need to stop talking about church as if we just need to tweak and change a few things.
    The pagans are more honest about us than we are, in terms of our culture and identity, reflecting their despising of our hypocrisy and blindness.
    Our sad attempts to evangelize them, and bring them into our messed up house, as dysfunctional family members is being eclipsed by the Muslims, who actually do have strong families.
    We should have the courage to talk about it.
    blessings
    Greg

  2. 4-20-2012

    Thank you , Greg! Very true.

  3. 4-20-2012

    Why not meet in a private restaurant dining room like the Rotary Club? Acts 2:42 can be done there and the church’s witness moves closer to the world. Simplicity too. Service, food, clean up and facilities for the price of a meal (plus gratuity).

  4. 4-20-2012

    Thanks for the comments. Like I said in the post that I linked to, I am not a house church proponent. I do agree with Ross that meeting in homes can be a benefit because it promotes certain beneficial things. However, I do not think it is necessary to meet in homes to see these same benefits.

    -Alan

  5. 4-20-2012

    For me Alan I attend the church that God made, in the heavens, not man’s. I personally like to just go there and hang around, not asking for anything, not wanting anything, just to be near, next, to God.
    This to me is awesome. Man made buildings, are just not for me. I like to worship in Spirit. Call me weird but this is what I like. I do meet with a few others once a week, there is no agenda, there is no we are going to do this or that, no program, we just meet and wherever we are taken we are taken in the Spirit. I do not know if i answered this or not.
    Howard

  6. 4-20-2012

    Howard,

    I love to spend time alone with God as well. But, the term “ekklesia” (church) in the New Testament never refers to just one person and God. It always refer to a gathering of people. God’s church (ekklesia) always refers to a gathering of God’s people. I honestly don’t care where or when God’s people gather, as long as that location/time allows them to share their life in Christ together.

    -Alan

  7. 4-21-2012

    can’t speak to that article directly… There will always be a tension because god works with all of us, the more humble the better. However and whereever we meet. Being surrounded by other believers regularly is not automatically more healthy than being mostly alone… any more than meeting in a house is better than a building with a pastor in each and every case.. that is overly simplistic thinking.
    The riches of christ in him and in us are pretty deep and wide… ditching a paid clergy and building may help us experience certain realities but it is no silver bullet and is frought with a new raft of risks. While many ‘instutional’ churches far out stay their welcome and do not move with the seasons, many house churches never quite get off the ground or go any kind of substantial distance.
    All that said I do not think this is all just a matter of personal preference and subjectivity… the body of christ is over represented institutionally in most nations so I welcome the shift happening. Maybe when we have say 50/50 split of christians meeting in each others homes, leading one another vs sunday pastor led gatherings in static locations, the discussion will become remotely balanced… for now the christian landscape is unfortunately very one dymensional in that regard and is hurting our witness in the world. House/simple/organic etc church isn’t for every believer and it doesn’t need to be… that said I can only assume many christians caught up in other expressions of church see it as a threat even though it represents a minority segment, a shame really.

  8. 4-21-2012

    Joining with other believers for mutual edification is very important. Heb. 10:24-25 underscores its value in avoiding apostasy. First Corinthians 12:14 says, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” The diversity of gifts given by the Holy Spirit are needed for the common good and building up of the whole body of Christ. This is why church meetings should be open enough to allow anyone who has something worthwhile to contribute to actually share it with the rest of the body.

    Directing time, energy and resources toward NT priorities (widows, orphans, missionaries) is important too. It’s a matter of obedience, first of all. We should do God’s will. Second, real needs (spiritual and physical) are met when we do this. This is life-changing. Most churches in the West spend 80-90% of their funds on self-serving non-essentials (land, buildings, maintenance, taxes, utilities, staff salaries, programs, equipment, supplies, etc.). The church in the East has experienced explosive growth over the last several decades without these things. Adversity helps the church grow, as it has in the East. As adversity comes our way, perhaps it will help the church in the West too.

  9. 4-21-2012

    Eli and Rick,

    Good comments. Your positions are very similar to my own.

    -Alan

  10. 4-21-2012

    “Primarily, we should ask ourselves this: Is our structure and/or meeting location limiting our life together in Jesus Christ? If it is, then we should change where we are meeting together.”

    This is a great approach. I’m not sure most Christians and churches are able to do this, because they don’t understand what “our life together in Christ” is about.

    Does that mean some or all of the following?
    1. attend church faithfully (which might be from one to four times a week, depending on your group),
    2. hear a solid expositional sermon,
    3. have the gospel preached clearly and compellingly
    4. have a great band that draws in the unsaved
    5. various degree(s) of separation from the world and division from substantial segments of other Christians, so that we can be a faithful remnant
    6. dressing up to show God respect
    7. dressing down to show God’s inclusiveness?

    You get the point. Some collection of the above is how many–perhaps most–Christians would identify what “our life together in Jesus Christ” means. If you are working from faulty principles and functions, then any attempt to evaluate what is limiting or enhancing our life together in Christ.

    If mutual edification is a key principle for our life together in Christ, you will come to very different conclusions than those who hold some of the other concepts as key principles.

  11. 4-23-2012

    I question if we are not putting the cart in front of the horse? The Church is us bound by the Truth of Jesus in our lives as Lord and Savior, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit,by this daily walk that is a relationship. This truth binding us is together, that binding, that us, we are the church and the temple is first our bodies (hopefully presented daily as a living sacrifice) and only then the convenient location we choose to gather for regular Praise, Worship, discipleship,Bible study, preaching, teaching and all the other good things that we do. If all of the important elements of Godly relationship are right then even if the vocational venue is wrong will not the Holy Spirit make His will known to those who know Him? I am not trying to pretend that 4 to 400 people are going to all be in right-standing with God as they gather at the same time. We know we are all sinners saved by Grace and line by line we are progressively sanctified by the Power of God at His good pleasure. I am just saying that If these most important elements are even approaching Godly success then this will also fall into the correct location/place per God’s own will.

  12. 4-23-2012

    oops vocational should have read locational, I suffer from being my own proof-reader

  13. 4-23-2012

    It’s not necessarily about the structure, but it has to be important. The way we gather is foundational to how we live. Our focus on the Savior is key to living Christ like. Living Christ like can happen anywhere and in any venue, however, the tenets of mutual edification and every member participation, and real discipleship can only happen in one venue in my opinion. That is, in small organic gatherings of believers, whether it is in a home, storefront building or sitting under a tree in mountains of Uganda.

    Passively sitting in a pew, or a couch, or under a tree, listening to a paid professional orate a one dimensional soliloquy is not healthy, has never been healthy, and will never be healthy. I do believe, however, that large, congregational gatherings for celebrations and worship have there place. They just should not be the norm.

  14. 4-23-2012

    I totally agree with Howard, It is the best place to be but the path to that place is not easy.

  15. 4-24-2012

    Art,

    I agree that many would not understand what “our life together in Jesus Christ” means, and you’re definitely right about the implications of meeting together to mutually edify one another. From what I’ve observed, living it and modeling it is the best way to show people what we mean.

    Rodney,

    If you haven’t read it yet, please check out my post “Why I’m not a house church proponent.”

    Jack,

    You said, “Living Christ like can happen anywhere and in any venue, however, the tenets of mutual edification and every member participation, and real discipleship can only happen in one venue in my opinion. That is, in small organic gatherings of believers, whether it is in a home, storefront building or sitting under a tree in mountains of Uganda.” Yes, this is my point as well. Thanks!

    Yelena,

    No, the path to meeting together in Jesus Christ (whatever the venue) is not an easy one when other focuses have been the norm.

    -Alan