Reading the NT, one gets the distinct impression that the gatherings of the local church were to be an expression of genuine Christian community, mutual edification and even various spoken word ministries by "non-teachers", as well as an opportunity for gifted teachers to teach.
So, it would seem to make sense that a church meet regularly in a location that facilitates rather than hinders the purposes of that regular (weekly) gathering. Thus, while meeting place is not prescribed in NT, neither is it an entirely indifferent matter, but requires wise and prayerful choices. A church's meeting place may interfere with that church's accomplishing NT purposes or it may assist in the accomplishment of those purposes.
Thus, I suggest the way forward is not Blame it on the Building nor is it A House Church Cannot be a Real Church. Church planters need to assist new believers (and in some cases assist local pastors and leaders) to discover the New Testament purposes of the church's regular gathering(s). This is the first and often missing step....
Where a church meets is a matter requiring wise, prayerful reflection on the Scriptural purposes of the church, and the context where the church exists or is to be planted. A building may or may not assist in the accomplishment of those purposes. Different kinds of buildings might be more or less helpful depending on the context. And, in some cases, meeting in a dedicated building is neither possible nor wise because of the authorities or extremely hostile social context. If all these seems obvious, thanks for letting me re-state it.
I think there's a need for more nuanced, biblical, informed, contextually alert, and less defensive conversation about building-based or house church models.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
House Church or Building?
I like the house church setting for meeting together. But right now our family gathers with believers in a "dedicated building." I think there is a place for both. That's why I appreciate Ed Roberts comments on this issue: