House Church

Over the last few years we have seen a trend of more people having what they call a “house church”. I’m not referring to what is referred to in Romans 16:5:

Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

In that case they had church in the only place they could meet and it happened to be a house.

No, I’m talking about this idea that I can’t find any church pure enough for me and mine, so my house is my church. That would have its perks—scheduling family and church activities would be rather easy when the only schedule I would have to consult is my own. If I didn’t finish preparing my message and it is only my family, how easy would it be to watch “The Andy Griffith Show”. (Perhaps some episodes of that show would be better than some of the messages I’ve preached, but that is beside the point).

What is lost in this discussion is the idea of corporate worship. The Lord did not intend that everything in your life in regards to Him be in private. That’s a modern invention. Here’s a Scripture that might have escaped your notice. Deuteronomy 12: 17-18 says

Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.

The phrase “within thy gates” means at your house. There are some activities that should take place at God’s House. No amount of verbal acrobatics will nullify what the Lord says.

This is nothing more than a repackaging of the old I’ll-have-church-in-nature routine. You know, I worshipped the Lord Sunday morning at the fishing hole. How does that work? Is there some spiritual way to hold the pole or bait the hook? I think of the Lord when out in nature too, but does that replace His call to corporate worship?

This all springs from a misunderstanding of all the Lord had in mind when He gave us the local church. Part of the idea was that there should be other Christians in it besides me and my family. Hopefully my family is already encouraging me and surely they are praying for me. I need more prayers, more encouragement, more of the Word than I can have at my house alone. Then there is giving and reaching out and the local church is what the Lord has designed for this very thing.

It’s not about that building, but we need that body of people in our lives. We need a local church. 

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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20 Responses to “House Church”

  1. Couldn’t agree more, while worship can happen just about anywhere…we do need to worship with our brothers and sisters.

    Great article
    Greg

  2. Awesome article, Jimmy!

    I whole-heartedly agree. I would offer a parallel thought about why church isn’t as effective as it used to be…

    Church is too centralized and too ‘big’ – in the sense that it has exited homes & daily lives to be been confined to a specific address on a specific day.

    Here’s the full post – Read about it here:
    http://notashamedofthegospel.com/online-evangelism/gospel-logistics/

  3. Hello. I really enjoyed your article. I love the church I attend. Yes, the building is big, with beautiful decor all about. But that isn’t what I love about my church the most. It is my family that is there. No, none of my actual “blood” family attend there. But the family of mine that is there treat me even more loving than my regular family do. They pay attention to my needs, prayer requests and they love me just as I am. In them treating me this way makes me want to do the same for others that are there. Even on a lot of my worse days I look forward to worshipping at this church because I know that The Holy Spririt will be there communicating with me through the choir singing, the music being sang and played and of course the preaching that will teach me and point me in the right direction. Even though we mainly have only one preacher others stretch their arms out connected with our pastor to make sure that as many needs can be met as possible. With visits to hospitals, home visits, meals, but most importantly prayers. I do not even need to have a special need without knowing that I am being held up in prayer every single day by people who really do love me. I thank God so often for the love of this church.

    Becky Berens
    from Beth Haven Baptist
    Sheridan MI

    • Your perfectly illustrate what I was trying to say. Church, at least as the Lord designed it, is such a wonderful and helpful thing. People like you Becky make it even better!

  4. Great words Becky and very encouraging, you made me appreciate my cell / life groups all the more!!! Joe – California

  5. Great article Jimmy. I hope that those who may not agree will visit the Scripture you referenced and pray about their families contribution to a community church. All of God’s children have something to contribute to the whole body of Christ.

  6. There may be a few families out there who have opted for a “us and no more” fellowship. However, there’s a much larger aspect to gatherings in homes… thousands awakening each month to what a book like “Pagan Christianity” begins to describe.
    Honestly, house church is most often about 3 to 14 families coming together without the denomination, 501(c)3, pulpit, steeple, or clergy-laity separation.

    • Another good book on the house church is Re-imaging the Church by the same author, Frank Viola.

    • I am not familiar with that book or author. Does he recommend house churches over regular churches?

    • My comments wouldn’t necessarily be directed toward a house church that reached out as a church should. Someday political affairs may drive us all to underground churches. Why the particular number of 3 to 14? Just curious.

    • I mentioned “3 to 14”, and to say an average of 7. (I have been blessed to visit only 150 small ekklesia, home fellowships in the US-48 states, so there’s nothing precise about these numbers). As the Holy Spirit directs, gatherings “multiply” when numbers & maturity reach such a point as they are unanimously prepared to release by love 2 or 3 or more to be gathering in another place.
      Failing to multiply at the Spirit’s lead results in a progressive disconnect as brothers & sisters struggle to care for one another altogether without falling to relational cliques. When numbers continue to increase, many essential functions of the ekklesia begin to stumble, leaving gaps for the world (programs & pulpits) and the flesh (“milk” & politics) and the Adversary (“any focus except Christ”) to accrete within the assembly. Larger gatherings also tend to provide cover for “wolves”; to obscure needs; to leave the young vulnerable and the zealous perplexed.

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