Ok, so the title of this post is extremely “tongue-in-cheek.” I have nothing against churches gathering in homes. In fact, I think it would be beneficial for many Christians to gathering in homes. If I were backed into a corner, I would tell you that I prefer to gather with my brothers and sisters regularly in homes.
My good friend Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” wrote a post recently called “Why I Am A House Church Proponent.” His post is a very kind and very well-written to a post I wrote a little over a year ago called “Why I’m not a house church proponent.”
Eric gives the following reasons for being a “house church” proponent:
- House church follows the most common biblical pattern.
- House church is inexpensive.
- House church offers a relational atmosphere.
- House church keeps numbers low.
- House church can be rotational in nature.
- House church promotes the priesthood of all believers.
(If you haven’t yet, please take the time to read Eric’s post. It’s not very long, and he explains each of his points above very well.)
And, in fact, I agree with his points. Gathering in homes with other believers (as opposed to gathering in dedicated buildings or even in rented spaces) can promote the things that Eric lists. And, those are good things.
The problem is, meeting in homes does not guarantee those things… especially the most important aspects of gathering relationally (#3) and seeing everyone live out the priesthood of all believers (#6).
In fact, in a comment on Eric’s post, someone named Seth left this comment to me:
Alan, you said “meeting in homes does not guarantee that we are meeting for the right reasons.” I agree with you. But how do we overcome that mentality of meeting for the wrong reason? What is the cure then? I’ve been in numerous house churches where it is basically an institutional church stuffed into a home. Same issue. Been wondering how to break out of that rut. You have any ideas?
Yes, unfortunately, I also know of many house churches which are “basically an institutional church stuffed into a home.” In fact, in our area, the most hierarchical, authoritarian leader who I know is part of a house church.
So, I greatly agree with Eric (and others) that meeting in homes can be beneficial for the church. I agree that for a group of Christians desiring to meet to edify one another, gathering in a house can promote that kind of mutual discipleship.
However, for a group of believers who do not understand their roles and responsibilities in building up each other in faith, unity, and service in Jesus Christ, then moving their meeting to a home will not help, and might actually hurt.
So, for me, I’d much rather see a church gathering in a dedicated building but learning to meet for mutual edification, than a group meeting in a home without mutual edification.