Tuesday, February 28, 2006
This just in (I haven't had a chance to even read it): TIME magazine has a story on house churches called "There's No Pulpit Like Home" in their March 6, 2006 edition.
(HT: House Church Chronicles)
Early Church Example - during its first three centuries, Christianity was a network of small discipleship circles that met in homes. That this was a deliberate pattern initiated by Christ and propagated by the apostles as seen in the New Testament.
Exponential - because of their multiplying nature, house churches and cell groups are able to accommodate a harvest which is beyond the capability of the traditional program-based church. To fulfill the Great Commission in the face of global population growth, we need to get smaller to grow bigger.
Efficient - house churches are simple, inexpensive, and adaptable and can be especially effective in regions characterized by persecution and poverty.
Equal Opportunity - since the Reformation there has been mainly a theoretical assent to the Biblical principle of the priesthood of all believers. With their participative and interactive nature, both house churches and cell groups are able to practically release so-called lay people to utilize their spiritual gifts.
Entropy - autonomous groups are often precursors to cults and sects. As such, to maintain health (doctrinal and behavioral) and prevent instability (scattering and insularity), house churches in particular need to be involved in relational accountability networks with others of like mind. This will also prevent the pride and prejudice that often accompanies those involved in something new. Cell groups, on the other hand, are already part of a built-in pyramid accountability structure within their cell church. Traditional churches, hopefully, would then welcome the emergence of the house church phenomenon as a divine renewal agent for the health of the entire Body of Christ, rather than persecuting it as in times past.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
1. Being missional. What I mean by this "buzzword" is nothing more than "go and live among" the lost, or "go and seek" the lost. I believe we can do this well in a house church setting, by responding quickly to community and neighborhood needs. The intimacy of the house church is also a good context for encouraging each other in this task.
2. Being doers of the Word. Instead of just hearing a message, a house church setting can provide the kind of personal interaction that stimulates application and accountability.
3. Giving to the poor and to missions. Without a building to fund, a lot more can be given to minister to the needy and the lost. Along this line, see a thought-provoking article I linked to last year on how the early church spent their money.
4. Church discipline. Something Mark Dever said about church discipline has stuck with me. He was asked, "If a church wants to start taking church discipline seriously, what would you suggest?" His advice: "My basic advice is not to do it—that is, do not do church discipline until your church membership is meaningful." In other words, without meaningful relationships, discipline is just weird. A house church is a great place to develop those meaningful relationships.
5. The Lord's Supper. I'm excited by the possibilities of fellowship around the dinner table in house churches. I also think a meal setting helps to point forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Of course, house churches can fail in every one of these areas. They don't come automatically. But in my opinion the smaller setting is more conducive for these areas of church life to flourish.
Friday, February 24, 2006
I am an insurance agent. Perhaps I can shed some light on the insurance issue. Insurance policies operate with differ sets of rules, all at the same time. Insurance is a contract between you and the insurer stating what losses they will pay for if you pay the premiums. The first set of rules is the underwriting rules. These rules grade your risk to the insurer. If they find out about the "home church" (definitions are huge) they may cancel or non-renew the policy (too much risk), but if there is a loss during the time the policy is in force it will still be covered (rules of the contract) if it is a covered loss under the policy language. Most home policies (not all) are an "HO3" model which covers everything, by definition, except those losses listed as "Exclusions". If your policy is an "HO3" read the list of exclusions for something excluding the home church activity. You will see exclusion for "sexual abuse", and for "pollution discharge","business activity" etc. All HO3 polices have an exclusion for a "business" at home unless an indorsement is purchased. If anybody is getting paid at the home church, it would most likey be a business (for insurance purposes) and you will have no liability coverage (most likely).... How you define your home church will have an impact on the underwriters thinking about the risk. If you are claiming it as a full fledged church it will not fit their underwriting criteria, but if it is defined as just people getting together it may be different. Insurance companies do not have a place to put home churches yet. If enough people call a carrier the carrier may put the actuarials (number crunchers) to work to come up with an endorsement to cover the risk. The third set of rules the insurance companies work by are those laid down by court judgements. Basically somebody needs to have a loss involving a home church situation, coverage denied and a lawsuite that brings a court ruling. If there is no "exclusion" for the activity in the home (HO3) the courts would probably rule in favor (but who knows) of the home owner. If there are too many losses to insurance companies they will add another exclusion to the home policy, and maybe an endorsement that can be purchased (like home daycare).
See also House Church Blog.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
1. What is house church?
2. How do you answer the perception that you are a cult?
3. What do you do with children?
I've been helped a great deal in my thinking about what to do with children by this principle: It is the parent's primary responsibility to teach their children spiritual truth, not relegate it to the church to do. So ideally we are training the parents to "shepherd their child's heart."
Realistically, some children (especially young ones) may have a hard time sitting through a house church meeting. That's why we are thinking of providing a sitter and play area, if needed. Along this line, here's one approach shared by Sandy Rains of Pathfinders: "I don't feel the necessity to be providing Bible content for the children all the time - age differences too great - I think of it more as a fun time - good snacks and fun activities - sometimes a craft or a Bible video."
On the other hand, I hope we will train our children to participate in house church meetings. It may be a bit surprising that I've referred twice to John Piper while discussing the topic of house church, but his pamphlet "The Family: Together in God's Presence" has some great counsel that I intend to apply to our house church setting (he writes in the context of a conventional worship service). Here are some examples:
Parents have the responsibility to teach their children by their own example the meaning and value of worship. Therefore, parents should want their children with them in worship so the children can catch the spirit and form of their parents' worship....
To sit still and be quiet for an hour or two on Sunday is not an excessive expectation for a healthy 6-year-old who has been taught to obey his parents. It requires a measure of discipline, but that is precisely what we want to encourage parents to impart to their children in the first five years....
Children absorb a tremendous amount that is of value. And this is true even if they say they are bored.
Update: Check out the post at House Church Blog.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Note: Some of these references may not refer to the leadership "office" but I've included them for the sake of completeness. But I've excluded references that do not involve the church, although those would be significant to study, to see how the terms were used in other contexts (such as the elders in Israel). If I've missed some relevant passages, let me know.
Thanks to the concordance at zhubert.com and the passage look up at Bible Gateway.
- "During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:27-30).
- "They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust" (Acts 14:21-23).
- "Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: 'Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.' This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, 'The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.' The apostles and elders met to consider this question" (Acts 15:1-6).
- "Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings" (Acts 15:22-23).
- "As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey" (Acts 16:4).
- "From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church" (Acts 20:17).
- "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
- "When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present" (21:17-18).
- "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
- "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Ephesians 4:11-12)
- "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons" (Philippians 1:1).
- "Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach..." (1 Timothy 3:1-2).
- "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you" (1 Timothy 4:14).
- "Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
- "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.' Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning (1 Timothy 5:17-20).
- "The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain" (Titus 1:5-7).
- "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14).
- "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5:1-4).
- "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'" (1 Peter 5:5).
- "The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth" (2 John 1:1).
- "The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth" (3 John 1:1).
- "These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead" (Jude 1:12).
Friday, February 17, 2006
- Becoming ingrown instead of keeping focused on reproducing/multiplying as we see exemplified in Scripture - disciples discipling faithful men/women to disciple others.
- Many people are bitter against the traditional church when becoming part of/starting house churches -unless they work through this, their bitterness will multiply if the house church multiplies since the seed of bitterness will bear bad fruit, and if not, the house church will eventually destroy itself out of bitterness.
- Interpersonal skills lacking.
- Once the group is large enough to reproduce, people don't want to go through the pain of separation or the dynamic changes, and so it can easily stagnate...perhaps the major change needed is a perception change of what's happening...when someone in a family is ready to marry, they are moving out, yes, but they're starting a new family - it has mixed emotions inherent in the transition, but it is seen as a time of great rejoicing and natural reproduction! And family and friends are prepared that there will be a time of adjustment. It doesn't mean that that's the end of the relationship - and in networks of house churches where they can meet together corporately monthly or whatever they decide for worship or evangelistic events or specific ministry opportunities, etc., these relationships can continue to deepen!
- Power/control issues can become cult-like.
- Lack of prayer/dependence on God.
- Becoming stagnant/comfortable and ingrown if DNA of reproducible/multiplying evangelism as a natural outflow of relationship with Christ is not always kept to the fore.
- Isolation - not connected with others - give up.
- Lack of a teachable, humble spirit.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Here are some practical considerations about the teaching ministry in a house church setting:
1. Looking back over my posts last year, I noticed a link to something Dan Edelen wrote about Bible study in small groups, and how they tend to degenerate into a synthesis of what people think the Bible means rather than a true understanding of what the Bible means. He puts the responsibility at the feet of the group leaders:
The crux of the problem is the group leaders. By and large most small group leaders are either too passive to rein in flawed group synthesis or they lack the command of the Bible they absolutely must have to counter a heretical synthesis with the actual truth of God....
Unless we have small group leaders who know the Bible inside and out and can take firm control of a group striving for heretical synthesis and steer them back to real truth, I think we should stop studying the Bible in our small groups. Put Bible study and teaching back into the hands of workmen approved to handle the Scriptures. If that can't happen in small groups or adult Sunday School classes, then put it back into the pulpit.
The role of the teacher is not to bring about a consensus among house church members of what the text means but to guide participants to understand the truth of Scripture.
2. Another link I had last year was to a dialogue between Scot McKnight and Brad Boydston about Doug Pagitt's book Preaching Re-imagined. The first post in the series is here (Jesus Creed). While I lean towards Boydston's more cautious assessment of the book, I think the basic idea of dialogical preaching has great potential for use in the house church. Teachers could employ dialogue, encourage questions, foster interaction, and even have debate in the teaching time. It doesn't have to be "one-way" speaking. The teaching time can be participatory, but the teacher has to remember his responsibility: to communicate the message of God.
3. I see huge possibilities in the house church for making application of the teaching. One way is to break into groups of three or four after the teaching time to share with each other how you plan to be "a doer of the word" (not just be a hearer of it). The intent is to motivate follow through, and develop accountability.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
House Church Central has these Book Recommendations. I haven't read any. But in case you're doing research to understand the movement, you might want to check these out.
And finally, here is a complication of other resources from NewChurches.com, including recommended books.
Monday, February 13, 2006
1. Teaching: Seemingly in reaction to one person doing all the teaching in the traditional church, I hear of house churches going to the other extreme in order to get everybody involved in teaching. Problem: Not everybody is spiritually gifted to teach.
2. Leadership: Some house churches seem to be suspicious of any kind of leadership structure, and yet in the New Testament one of the first things Paul did was to appoint elders/pastors to oversee churches.
3. Becoming ingrown: Any size of church can have this problem, but it bothers me when I hear some house church leaders talk like they're comfortable in their "holy huddle."
4. Independence: Bah humbug on those who can't get along with other people and so decide to start their own house church. And what's up with "homechurching" (the church version of homeschooling) ... I'm sorry, but your family and you do not constitute a church.
5. Truth/doctrine: It seems some advocates of house churches protest too much about "doctrine." Here's one church's reason for their sparse doctrinal statement: Doctrine divides. But then they have a long, long segment called "Our Convictions."
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Sometimes I wonder if the frequency and seriousness of many problems that Christians face is not owing to the fact that most Christians in America do not experience relational, interpersonal, supernatural church life the way the New Testaments describes it. Psychological problems, marriage problems, parenting problems, self-identity problems, financial problems, career problems, loneliness, addictions, phobias, weaknesses—I wonder if the epidemic of emotional and psychological woes is not the symptom of an organic flaw in the way most Christians experience corporate church life.
For most Christians corporate church life is a Sunday morning worship service and that's all. A smaller percentage add to that a class of some kind, perhaps Sunday morning or Wednesday evening in which there is very little interpersonal ministry. Now don't misunderstand me, I believe in the tremendous value of corporate worship and I believe that solid teaching times are usually crucial for depth and strength. But you simply can't read the New Testament in search of what church life is supposed to be like and come away thinking that Worship services and classes are the sum total of what church was supposed to be.
The inevitable effect of treating church as worship services and classes is to make the people of God passive and too dependent on ordained experts. And could it not be that this pervasive relational passivity and dependence of millions of Christians—I mean passivity in interpersonal, spiritual ministry—rob us of some of Christ's precious remedies for a hundred problems? If God designed the church to function like a body with every member ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit to other members, in regular interpersonal relationship, then would it be surprising to find that the neglect of this regular interpersonal, spiritual ministry cripples the body in some of its functions and causes parts of the body to be weak and sick? Isn't that what you would expect?
I wonder if the incredible felt need for professional psychologists—with the common assumption: Where else could you possibly turn?—whether this feeling is owing in large measure to an organic flaw in the way we experience corporate church life. Think about this for a moment. How do psychological counselors help people? (And many of them do!) It seems to boil down to three things: 1) personal one on one conversations, called counseling or psychotherapy; 2) personal group meetings with others facing similar struggles; and 3) medications, usually some form of antidepressant. Now I think we can be thankful for these things in many cases.
But isn't it amazing that when Christians are in distress and seek help from professional psychologists, short of medication, the help we get comes through one on one or group sharing. When confronted with the pain of people's personal problems where do professionals turn? They turn first to one-on-one conversation. And when more is needed they turn to small groups. Isn't that remarkable! That the multi-billion dollar ministry of psychotherapy that we have created to help hurting people is built almost entirely on the ministry of conversation. They talk. That is the ministry—the power of conversation. In the best settings, wise, insightful, prayerful, loving conversation.
Someone might conclude from this: So the church has failed to provide for this and should now be providing support groups—for all kinds of distresses and abuses. Yes, perhaps so. But the question that is troubling me more these days is more fundamental than that. I am asking whether generations of flawed organic church life is a significant part of the origin of some of our dysfunctions and distresses. It's the difference between asking whether the job of the church is to have programs to distribute vitamin C tablets to remedy a scurvy epidemic, or whether we should have all the while been eating oranges.If I am anywhere close to the truth here, then we might ask whether those who experience church in small groups get victory over their problems more often than those who don't. Yes, perhaps that would tell us something. But the problem is deeper. Are most of the small groups that exist experiencing what the New Testament pictures as interpersonal, supernatural ministry in the power of the Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
That last question reminds us that you can have house churches but if they don't function the right way, they can be just as impersonal as any other meeting.
Friday, February 10, 2006
When a new lead pastor comes on board, I'll find a job and focus fully on the new work. Meanwhile, I'm talking to a few people and praying for a core team. We also have a website. It's lifeattheedge.org. A huge thanks to Websonix for designing it for us! Our philosophy for the website is that the home page is for our unsaved and unchurched friends. As we build relationships with people, we would invite them to check out the article on the website and then follow up with "What did you think?"
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The same article also explains their % method of budgeting:
Even as home churches with no building payments or salaries, we found ourselves not being able to meet our pledges some months. We had made commitments to a number of different ministries and missions and on a slow-giving month we were unable to meet them. One of the brothers in one of the churches said, “Instead of a dollar amount let’s give a percentage of what comes in to each ministry we support.” What a blessing that idea turned out to be in that now there is always enough. We notified each ministry and let them know that it would be changing from a dollar commitment to a percentage commitment. Now these ministries pray that God gives us an increase because the more we take in the more they get! The chart below is our current breakdown:
Association of Home Churches
Hope for India 15%
Home & Hope Shelter 5%
Killeen Hope Pregnancy Center 15%
John Vrooman-Haiti Mission 5%
Mission Soup Kitchen 5%
Cadence International-Soldier’s Hospitality House 5%
True Deliverance Ministries 5%
Emergency Reserve 8%
Family Activities 5%
Operating Expenses 3%
TOTAL PERCENTAGES 100%
Secretarial Salary $350.00
As you can see by the chart, we have percentages going to funds that help send our youth to camp, funds that help some families go to conferences, and funds for short-term mission trips. We have an emergency reserve fund in case someone in the church finds themselves unemployed or has some other emergency.
Around December 1st we take the excess money in the funds and distribute it to families in the church that may not be doing as well as others. This way there is a nice holiday season for all.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
And one of the "one anothers" I'm really enthused about is THIS.
After you read THAT article, doesn't it make the practical application of Hebrews 10:24-25 just come alive?
And if THAT happens, won't it be easier for this to happen?
Monday, February 06, 2006
By the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, we seek to mobilize, resource, encourage, network, train and facilitate those that God is raising up in Canada who, while complimenting [sic] other forms of Christian gatherings in Canada, share and carry out the vision of establishing easily reproducible, multiplying house churches in house church networks as a vital part of seeing Canada discipled and taking a more effective role in discipling the nations, in order that Jesus will be glorified as King of Kings among all nations. We desire to see His life lived out through us in every aspect of life.
I appreciate their line about complementing "other forms of Christian gatherings in Canada."
This is how they see the distinctives of house churches versus cell churches or home groups:
House churches tend to be intergenerational and see children as having a vital role in the Body of Christ even as children.
House churches tend to flex more easily - members determine structures and there are less financial stresses.
House churches are the primary meeting. If there is a local network of house churches, they may meet together corporately for worship perhaps once a month or so locally and potentially work together in various ministries as the Holy Spirit leads. The corporate meetings are seen as a secondary meeting.
In addition to focusing on knowing Christ and experiencing His Presence together, house churches are usually focused on evangelism/discipleship and usually have a vision/mandate of multiplying reproducible, Christ centered house churches. As in cell churches, though the focus is on evangelism/discipleship, nurture is a by-product of that.
House churches (and probably cell churches), especially if most of those attending are from the same neighbourhood, try to get together much more often than just on a weekly or bi-weekly basis...they try to share their lives together as a witness to their neighbours and to grow in their relationships with the Lord and with each other. It is a very grass-roots way of seeing the church grow and has great potential for becoming a people movement.
A house church meeting usually includes a meal, the exercising of spiritual gifts, prayer, worship, fellowship, ministry to each other, everyone sharing a word or a song, etc. as in 1 Corinthians.
Leadership style: plurality of leaders. Potentially mutually accountable to a local network of house churches and possibly receiving the ministry of an itinerant apostolic team who serves the local network of house churches.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
- When the church is growing, the meeting space is limited, and you do not wish to invest more money in buildings.
- When a pocket of members live in a town or neighborhood some distance from the church building.
- When there is an unresolved disunity in the church related to either doctrine or philosophy, and a "planned division" is an appropriate consideration to bring to the people. (It goes without saying that there are many steps prior to division, and that there are other reasons churches divide that are not reasonable or acceptable.)
- When the church has an abundance of leaders or potential leaders (such as seminary or Bible School students, or well discipled leaders) who need to be used.
- When an established church wishes to penetrate the various sections of the city, or neighboring towns, in response to a work of the Holy Spirit among you.
Our meetings take place on Sunday afternoons. They consist of music (usually with several instruments such as violin, flute, cello, piano, etc—all of our groups happen to have musicians, but this may not always be the case), an open time for members teaching each other and telling our stories and experiences (especially in evangelism), an extended prayer time, a somewhat dialogical yet substantive exposition of Scripture, communion (led by various men in the church), a shared meal, and relaxed discussion and fellowship until people want to leave. We start at 4:30 p.m. and the first people to leave are walking out the door around 8:30 p.m. Some stay much later. We also have some time for children to practice their Scripture memorization and to be taught accordingly, just prior to the start of the meeting, while our adults and young people greet each other and settle in...
Every six weeks the whole church comes together for a larger "gathering" on a Sunday afternoon. At these meetings, we usually have two messages (of the more traditional stand-up type), with a meal in between. The whole church also participates in occasional study centers (three to six weeks duration), men's or women's meetings, mission trips, youth activities, or other ministry or fellowship related gatherings. Each home congregation is pastored by at least one biblically qualified leader, who together make up the team of pastors or elders. We currently have three interns who are young men being prepared for ministry. The elders and the interns meet weekly at a local Chinese restaurant for discussion and prayer. (As you know, all significant theological advancements take place at Chinese restaurants.)
Offerings are collected and missionaries supported by each home congregation. Some income is sent to the ministry center (the central office) by each home congregation. It is out of that money that elders are given part time support where needed. But I won't share the details of that now. Also baptism takes place through the home congregation, and the Lord's supper is taken there, etc.
Friday, February 03, 2006
- House Church is a compilation of some articles and websites and blogs dealing with house churches (June 13, 2005).
- Some House Church Basics has a link to FAQs at House2House (July 26, 2005).
- Large and Small Gatherings (August 20, 2005).
- Pathfinders: An Association of House Churches (August 30, 2005).
- Missional and Traditional Models Diagrammed (September 13, 2005).
- The Lord's Supper in House Churches (November 23, 2005).
Thursday, February 02, 2006
On the face of it, the megachurch movement and house church movement seem worlds apart. Huge stadium-sized congregations were never really a product of careful theological thinking, but they just conglomerated naturally through the economy-of-scale force in areas with suburban sprawl, much like how other small businesses merge in order to maximize efficiency. On the other hand, the house church movement has its passionate advocates who argue against such an organizational structure and urge for a more organic spirit-lead experience.
However, it seems to me that the end results may be actually very similar. Those who push for house churches often also see the need for periodic city-wide gatherings called “celebrations”....
At the same time, virtually all megachurches have an extensive small group program.
I think Nairn makes a good point. I'm a fan of a network or association of house churches, with occasional central meetings for all the house groups to gather together. I maintain that people need both the small and big settings.
[Note: I do believe there is a difference between ten house churches of 25 joined together and a church of 250 with ten small groups. It's a philosophical difference. It's a mindset difference.]
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Maybe part of my hesitation is that I see so much opposition in house church literature against conventional, sanctuary-type churches. Personally I don't share that perspective. I like the idea of house churches, and desire to start some. But I'm not anti-traditional church. So if I link to an article that does rant against them (versus merely pointing out the differences), let it be known that I'm not joining in the rant.
Another part of my hesitation is that there are so many individual expressions of house churches, some of which I think are aberrant and even heretical. To get a sense of what's out there, check out Frank Viola's description of some Streams of House Churches.
Despite these concerns, I'm going ahead and linking to resources on house churches this month. I want to try and find practical helps for doing house church ministry. That means some of this material will be helpful to small group ministries as well.