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
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:
Monday, February 15, 2010
Justin Taylor's promo of James Davison Hunter's book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World got my attention. I don't buy many books any more, but I've added this one to my short list of books to get. Taylor writes:
Rejecting models of defensiveness, relevance, or withdrawal, Hunter argues for a theology of “faithful presence”: “A theology of faithful presence calls Christians to enact the shalom of God in the circumstances in which God has placed them and to actively seek it on behalf of others.”
Saturday, February 13, 2010
First Corinthians 7:17 and 20 are sometimes used to defend the view that our work is our calling. I prefer Gordon Fee's (more nuanced, in my opinion) take on those verses:
Here the various social situations are to be understood as something Christ "assigned" to them at the time God called them to salvation.... The concept of "call" in the clause "as God has called" [v. 17] refers to conversion, that is, to their calling by God to be in fellowship with his Son (1:9; cf. 1:24). But the concern throughout is with their social situation at the time of that call, which is now to be seen as that which "the Lord assigned to each." That does not mean that one is forever locked into that setting. Rather, Paul means that by calling a person within a given situation, that situation itself is taken up in the call and thus sanctified to him or her. Similarly, by saving a person in that setting, Christ thereby "assigned" it to him/her as his/her place of living out life in Christ (The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICOT, p. 310).And:
Paul wants them to live out their Christian life (i.e., their "calling" to Christ) in the situation ("calling") where they were when God called them to Christ. The emphasis is on both, that they can be Christians in whatever situation God called them, and therefore that they do not need to change situations - precisely because they are in Christ. Let their "calling" (becoming believers) sanctify the setting of their calling (p. 314).