Tuesday, June 06, 2006

house-church movement

This is a good article from the Washington Post about the house-church movement.

I still am not sure how I feel about the church moving in this direction.

On one hand, I think it is good and right. It does look a lot like what is modeled in the New Testament. And it certainly lends itself to being a life-style thing, as opposed to a Sunday morning from 9:00-10:00am thing.

But on the other hand, the apostle Paul did speak highly of church structure, organization, and leadership. He didn't seem to think that a bunch of people sitting in their living room enjoying fellowship and conversation was enough. In his first letter to Timothy, in the midst of instructions for corporate gatherings and qualifications for eldership, Paul stated that the reason he was writing was so the people in the Ephesian church would know how to, "conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar of foundation and truth". He obviously thought very highly of the organized local body of believers.

I wonder if we aren't just glorifying the way the church looked in the book of Acts, while almost ignoring the way it developed through out the rest of the New Testament.

I don't know...it seems like that sometimes.

Again, I am just not sure how I feel about the house-church movement. I absolutely agree that we need a new way of church. The suburban, evangelical, contemporary church is not the final frontier in the life of the Church. There is a new way out there. I just don't know if this is it.

I usually like to organize my thoughts better than this and at least say something definitive. But my thoughts on this subject simply are not yet well-developed. I'm really just looking for input.

Any thoughts?


The Anonymous Human said...

Obviously, I am a big fan of the house church. You mention what Paul writes of "leadership (okay john maxwell), structure, and organization." Why can't you have that at a house church? You can still have a pastor and elders and what not. I agree that we can evolve from the early church, and I think that's what this has been. It seems to me the best evolution has been a brotherhood or fellowship of various housechurches. There is one such that I know of in Cincinnati. You can go to it here. It seems to be a good blend of organization and leadership, and yet the small community of a house church.

greg said...

I agree with the anonymous human that if house churches are organized well with both accountability (crucial) and some leadership structure, there's no reason why that can't work.

That said, I have known several people over the years who have gone the house route and WITHOUT EXCEPTION, every single one of those groups ended up sitting around cussing a lot and smoking weed. One group ended up swapping wives (for real).

I'm not at all saying that this is how it always is, but I've just seen in younger generations a love for the word community, which is overused, and a strong aversion to discipline, authority, and accountability.

Because of all of the things I've seen... I'm with Bill... I'm pretty scared of most of these things, but it certainly can work. I think there needs to be some very mature Christians leading the thing though...

The Anonymous Human said...

Good points Greg. I know we've had a really hard time roping in some of the people in our group. Most of them are really using it as a recovery session from being burnt or hurt from a "big" church. Because that's who's in our group and that's what they "need" right now, I'm not opposed to it. But all too often it just turns into a bitch session about former bosses and money and what not.

Weed and wife swapping eh? I'll bring that up this week. Maybe they'll be some that will go with it...

On a serious note, what would church be like if you could have a perfect world? What's perfect for you? Would it be a smaller gathering or something so large you would need a basketball stadium (a la joel osteen)? Meet in homes or in old cathedrals?

bill said...

I think that is part of, jake. i wonder if the house church thing isn't sometimes defined by what it isn't, as oppossed to what it is. "we hate the big, corporate, lots of money, no one knows anyone, church thing...so we do the small, intimate, no cost, everyone knows everyone church thing". not that that is horrible. i just can't jump on board with people who get their identity from being the opposite of what they hate. like goth kids.

now, i am not saying that is always the case. but i think it is true in a lot of cases. and i completely understand some people needing time and a place to vent and providing that isn't bad. that is not what i am saying.

my point is that i would rather have people say, "we are this way because this is what we think, for us, is the best way to worship, serve, and imitate Jesus based on what we read in the Bible".

The Anonymous Human said...

I think that's hard because for me the answer would be both. It would be all of it. I really enjoy getting together with hundred if not thousands of other christians and worshipping through song and sermon and skits and videos and what not. But for communion and fellowship and discussion and prayer, I need the intamacy of a few who know me. I need the stimulating conversation of people who aren't afraid to talk so they don't hurt other's feelings.

Last night at church we had a conversation about homosexuality and the churches response. It was brought up because of the vote in the senate. It was one of the best nights we've had in a while. I really left with a sense that this is what the church should be like. Discussing and forming a plan to tackle the culture we live in. Somehow it just seemed right.