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JFS

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Christians: House Churches?
« on: June 01, 2015, 05:51:41 am »
Hey guys, does anyone have experience with house churches?  Do you think that they are supported biblically?  Pros and cons?
"Influencing people for the good of myself is manipulation; influencing people for the good of the kingdom is motivation." -Alistair Begg

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SPF

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2015, 07:08:44 am »
1. No
2. Yes
3. Deeper, more intimate, more accountable, more real, more honest, more open relationships due solely to a smaller number of "members".
4. Less accountability in preaching - can lead to heresy. Probably a lower impact upon local community in terms of local outreach as well as global outreach.  Less involvement for children in interacting with peers and kid-friendly biblical materials. 


Question: "Is a home church a true biblical church?"

Answer: Churches in the New Testament era were indeed small assemblies that met in homes (Acts 2:46; 20:20). So the practice is certainly biblically allowable. There also seem to be some good reasons to have house churches as opposed to large gatherings: greater intimacy, stronger relationships, more comfortable worship, single-mindedness, etc. The fact that large churches usually have their own small groups that meet in homes speaks to this fact. Several considerations should be made, however, concerning the reasons for creating and/or attending a house church.

First, the fact that first-century Christians did something does not establish it as a pattern for all generations to follow (unless there is also a clear command to do so elsewhere). Simply because Scripture records an event or practice does not, of itself, establish a command (nor, in some cases, even approval!). So, for example, the fact that early Christians often sold all they owned and shared the profits (Acts 2:44-45) among other believers does not mean that we must do so today (although it certainly would be acceptable). So we should not think that home churches are any more "biblical" in this sense.

Second, there was a perfectly practical reason for the early church to meet in homes. Where else would they meet? There were no church buildings, YMCA's, grammar schools, or movie theaters that could hold large groups. Further, even if there was room somewhere, during this time of persecution by the Romans, a public gathering of hundreds or thousands of people would simply not be safe. Thus, it might not have been by design that the early church met in small groups. It is even possible that they would have preferred large meetings (as Jews would have been accustomed to), but they simply could not manage it. So we should also not think that home churches are any more "spiritual" than large churches.

Third, home churches that are started in an effort to counter "the institutional church" could be questionable. While often listing the above reasons to more closely align with the biblical model, the real reason often seems to be displeasure with large church movements. While these complaints are often valid, it can lead to an egalitarian, "us vs. them" mentality that should be avoided.

In addition to the above considerations regarding motive, one final caution concerns the issue of accountability. For Protestant churches, the Bible alone is the guide in matters of faith and practice. However, few people have the time to gain the skills and knowledge to accurately handle the word of God (2 Timothy 3:14-16). In classical education theology was taught last—for it builds on many other disciplines that cannot be learned from the Bible alone. Therefore, some degree of higher education was usually sought before one became a teacher of the word (James 3:1). The popular view today, however, is that the Holy Spirit teaches believers directly through the Bible. This idea might lead people to believe that whatever the group teaches is from God and is therefore safe from error. But the Bible does not teach that this is the case, and it is clear that most believers disagree on at least some issues, and most simply end up "interpreting" the Bible according to their churches' teaching anyway.

The answer to the interpretation issue requires another article, but the problem it creates becomes more ominous when dealing with home churches. The New Testament is full of warnings against heresies coming from within the church. Since it was written in the first century, these would actually be warnings regarding house churches. While this problem is certainly not limited to house churches, there is clearly no guarantee of protection from false teaching simply because the church changes its meeting format. Further, because home churches function as independent small groups, they need have no accountability to anyone but themselves. This makes it much more difficult to judge their teachings (in fact, the Jehovah's Witnesses cult began in exactly this manner). In contrast, larger congregations benefit from a plurality of elders, spiritually mature men (Titus 1:5-9) who are overseers of the flock, protecting them from false doctrine.

In conclusion, there is nothing unbiblical about Christians gathering together regularly in houses, or large buildings, or any other appropriate venue. The Bible does not, in fact, give any guidelines as to the proper gathering size or location. What it does do is explain what is to take place at those meetings (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2). So long as biblical teachings (orthodoxy) and practices (orthopraxy) are undertaken by those in assembly, it really does not matter what meeting format one chooses.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/home-church.html#ixzz3boMbPXYh
"It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

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JFS

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2015, 10:08:51 am »
Thanks I very much appreciated that article.   One of the defenses I've seen from a home church here locally is that the institutional church has been formatted in such a way that it is in the context of a Roman theater .  This renders it difficult for congregation to become trained as evangelists, missionaries, apostles etc.. This training is necessary as each person in the body of Christ is called to is necessary as each person in the body of Christ is called to  some kind of ministry .   In larger face forward theater type gatherings it is difficult to achieve any kind of mutual one accord worship .   It is much more difficult to train people when there's one person doing the speaking and most of the elder type work .  Thoughts?
"Influencing people for the good of myself is manipulation; influencing people for the good of the kingdom is motivation." -Alistair Begg

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Questions11

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2015, 10:10:41 am »
I don't have any experience, but so long as there's qualified and accountable leadership I have no real issue with it.  I don't think there's a perfect church structure, different things for different cultures, times and people, most likely.

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SPF

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2015, 01:01:23 pm »
JFS, I think it comes down to what a person thinks the purpose of Church is.  From what you said, it sounds like the people who are defending home churches are looking at local church as sort of an educational training ground type institution.  Though perhaps not incorrect, that may be a bit narrow of a position to hold.

I think there is something to be said for corporate worship.  I personally enjoy worshiping once a week as a community of Believers.  I find it both encouraging and edifying to sing together, listen to a message, and for me, I especially find communion once a week to be deeply nourishing to my soul.  Could all that be done in a home church? Sure. 

I would actually think that the defense from the local church you provided would actually be an argument against a home church.  I know at my Church we have community groups. My wife and I meet every Thursday with 4 other couples and spend time discussing the sermon through guided group questions.  It's a very open time with great encouragement, accountability, and growth. 

My Church also offers discipleship classes for members.  We also rent an apartment in the middle of a poor neighborhood for the local outreach portion of our Church ministry.  And we also support 3 mission organizations outside the country.  None of those would either be possible or effective on the scale that they are from a home church.

I don't think home churches are wrong.  But if I had to guess, I would guess that the vast majority of them stem from a foundation of a person being disillusioned with a local church experience as opposed to something they felt called into from God. 

"It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

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Aequitas

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2015, 05:13:37 pm »
Those in the likes of N Korea and Iran rely upon house churches -- but you're probably only speaking in terms of the West? I think those in the West should begin considering it more -- because if you think the attack against Christians will end after every Christian-owned bakery and florist is closed, you're gravely mistaken.
   
"The proof of the Christian God is in the impossibility of the contrary."
אַל־ תִּיגַ֥ע לְֽהַעֲשִׁ֑יר מִֽבִּינָתְךָ֥ חֲדָֽל | מְ֭זִמָּה תִּשְׁמֹ֥ר עָלֶ֗יךָ תְּבוּנָ֥ה תִנְצְרֶֽכָּה | אִ֭ישׁ זַ֣ךְ בְּעֵינָ֑יו וְתֹכֵ֖ן רוּחֹ֣ות יְהוָֽה

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Steve B

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2015, 11:35:34 pm »
1. No
2. Yes
3. Deeper, more intimate, more accountable, more real, more honest, more open relationships due solely to a smaller number of "members".
4. Less accountability in preaching - can lead to heresy. Probably a lower impact upon local community in terms of local outreach as well as global outreach.  Less involvement for children in interacting with peers and kid-friendly biblical materials. 


I agree.  In the New Testament we see a combination of house churches alongside larger congregations.

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Mrlondondude

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2015, 03:17:26 am »
House churches are amazing, you can really try out what the Bible says without the lack of faith from the leadership and/or the cultral sythisis of the word, effecting you. I personally look at the new testiment, and I don't actually see what it descirbes as a church anywhere here in London, at least.

Mostly, we used meet up, for like 30-40 mins for teaching, 1 hour of worship, where everyone looks like they are more in love with God than life itself, then after the teaching, run home or have 1-2 hours of idol chat about anyhting but Jesus. They dont seem to realise, becuase they are not taught, that those prayers are mostly likely not even heard.

Drawing a light on sin is never spoken of, unrepentent sin is never spoken of, spiritual warfare is never spoken of, gifts are never spoken of, improving prayer life is never spoken of, removing unrepentent sinners is never done, parable of the sower is NEVER presented for what it actually says, the parable of the talents is never spoken of, the "many will call on me lord lord" etc is seen as an arbitrary threat, the testing of the heart is a doctrine that does not exist; all that is spoken of its grace, basically. Never any application. We have been to a lot of different churches now, and its always the same. Heart breaking.

Me and my brother were fasting last week about this burden on our heart, as we had become really self-righteous. I basically hadlittle to no growth in the last 4 months , inspite of meeting up for most of it to try to address why my witness had gotten so luke warm, and I realised, it was partly because the churches that I went to, to find the Lord, left me feeling even more hopeless. They could never answer my questions, never help me with my bondages (they would say its normal or to just read the word), never want to build me up or be built up, dont take seriously unbelief and douts, and seem to have no real power.

After over 10  years of doubts that used to keep me up at night and led to real depression and being told it is normal in the Christain walk; always told to just hang in there for the rapture, I stumbled across Jesus' teaching about how we are meant to know he is real. Immediatly, a chain of events started that blew my mind away.

Churches, which are meant to be able to help with struggles like that, here in london are different to the general public, but only in apprence, when you start to really dig deep for support, 99% of the congregation only repeat bible versus without any actual understanding. This led me to obsess about being able to avoid ending up like that, which of course drew me to the den of the devil. I am not saying all churches are like this, but all the ones we have been to are, here in London.

We were forced to do a home fellowship as result of God basically dragging us out of the church, something I was never going to do with volition. But, as I have said before, it worked out really well in the end. I think you should try it for a bit, like do both, if you don't already. Do you think maybe you got the gift of teaching and the spiritual formation/donctrinal understanding to be led by the Lord? If so, go for it, I think you will love it and you might be able to provide hope to people that are going to church feeling hopeless in a way that a bigger church can't/won't be able to adress due to  reasons such as culture, time limitations and so on.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 03:42:55 am by Mslondondude »

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JFS

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2015, 10:26:19 am »
Quote
We were forced to do a home fellowship as result of God basically dragging us out of the church, something I was never going to do with volition. But, as I have said before, it worked out really well in the end. I think you should try it for a bit, like do both, if you don't already. Do you think maybe you got the gift of teaching and the spiritual formation/donctrinal understanding to be led by the Lord? If so, go for it, I think you will love it and you might be able to provide hope to people that are going to church feeling hopeless in a way that a bigger church can't/won't be able to adress due to  reasons such as culture, time limitations and so on.

Our men's group is kind of like that (I have called it a parachurch but it is closer to an actual church service minus the sermon by one preacher).

Your advice confirms what I have been thinking.  Doing both for awhile to see where that leads.  The denominational church government is, in my humble opinion, a bit stifling to the total power of the Gospel.  If you want evidence of this, attend a business meeting of any local church and watch the sparks fly.

We are able to see more of God's power released in small groups and I think that is the key.  Everyone is accountable and has a role to play.  The men's group is not perfect in this regard as it is quite informal.  We have about 6 key members who are there regularly and then another 10-15 that show up as it suits there lifestyle and other commitments. 

I am going to stay steady for now and, as you say, contribute to both groups and seek fellowship more often.  The house church thing is appealing.
"Influencing people for the good of myself is manipulation; influencing people for the good of the kingdom is motivation." -Alistair Begg

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Mrlondondude

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2015, 08:00:25 am »
Quote
We were forced to do a home fellowship as result of God basically dragging us out of the church, something I was never going to do with volition. But, as I have said before, it worked out really well in the end. I think you should try it for a bit, like do both, if you don't already. Do you think maybe you got the gift of teaching and the spiritual formation/donctrinal understanding to be led by the Lord? If so, go for it, I think you will love it and you might be able to provide hope to people that are going to church feeling hopeless in a way that a bigger church can't/won't be able to adress due to  reasons such as culture, time limitations and so on.

Our men's group is kind of like that (I have called it a parachurch but it is closer to an actual church service minus the sermon by one preacher).

Your advice confirms what I have been thinking.  Doing both for awhile to see where that leads.  The denominational church government is, in my humble opinion, a bit stifling to the total power of the Gospel.  If you want evidence of this, attend a business meeting of any local church and watch the sparks fly.

We are able to see more of God's power released in small groups and I think that is the key.  Everyone is accountable and has a role to play.  The men's group is not perfect in this regard as it is quite informal.  We have about 6 key members who are there regularly and then another 10-15 that show up as it suits there lifestyle and other commitments. 

I am going to stay steady for now and, as you say, contribute to both groups and seek fellowship more often.  The house church thing is appealing.

Yeah, sounds like you're on a steady growth forward towards where God is directing you. Maybe try push your mens group a little harder, with the spirit of grace to deal with any works based mentalities that might erupt. Are you the leader of the mens group?

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JFS

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2015, 08:32:04 am »
Quote
We were forced to do a home fellowship as result of God basically dragging us out of the church, something I was never going to do with volition. But, as I have said before, it worked out really well in the end. I think you should try it for a bit, like do both, if you don't already. Do you think maybe you got the gift of teaching and the spiritual formation/donctrinal understanding to be led by the Lord? If so, go for it, I think you will love it and you might be able to provide hope to people that are going to church feeling hopeless in a way that a bigger church can't/won't be able to adress due to  reasons such as culture, time limitations and so on.

Our men's group is kind of like that (I have called it a parachurch but it is closer to an actual church service minus the sermon by one preacher).

Your advice confirms what I have been thinking.  Doing both for awhile to see where that leads.  The denominational church government is, in my humble opinion, a bit stifling to the total power of the Gospel.  If you want evidence of this, attend a business meeting of any local church and watch the sparks fly.

We are able to see more of God's power released in small groups and I think that is the key.  Everyone is accountable and has a role to play.  The men's group is not perfect in this regard as it is quite informal.  We have about 6 key members who are there regularly and then another 10-15 that show up as it suits there lifestyle and other commitments. 

I am going to stay steady for now and, as you say, contribute to both groups and seek fellowship more often.  The house church thing is appealing.

Yeah, sounds like you're on a steady growth forward towards where God is directing you. Maybe try push your mens group a little harder, with the spirit of grace to deal with any works based mentalities that might erupt. Are you the leader of the mens group?

We have stayed away from titles (intentionally) because we felt that it was important that we see everyone become a leader in some kind of ministry.  There are 8 of us that I have witnessed real spiritual growth in the last year and a half or so (visible, tangible growth) so, to that end, it has been successful.  The key seems to be the corporate prayer.  Without that, we become feeble and weak.  The mutual encouragement is vital but it is also supplemental to the broken, contrite hearts that commune with God.

Back to your question, there are 4 of us that really started the group and mediate it each week.  I do most of the organizing (lining up our rotation of churches to visit, looking for special speakers, events, etc.).  One of our brothers has fallen but has also risen to glory with His savior (he died suddenly this year in his sleep the same night that we had met, it was really tough for awhile). 
"Influencing people for the good of myself is manipulation; influencing people for the good of the kingdom is motivation." -Alistair Begg

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Sakalava47

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2015, 11:21:00 am »
Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them

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JFS

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2015, 12:24:13 pm »
Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them

Amen!
"Influencing people for the good of myself is manipulation; influencing people for the good of the kingdom is motivation." -Alistair Begg

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Mrlondondude

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2015, 06:13:17 pm »
We have stayed away from titles (intentionally) because we felt that it was important that we see everyone become a leader in some kind of ministry.  There are 8 of us that I have witnessed real spiritual growth in the last year and a half or so (visible, tangible growth) so, to that end, it has been successful.  The key seems to be the corporate prayer.  Without that, we become feeble and weak.  The mutual encouragement is vital but it is also supplemental to the broken, contrite hearts that commune with God.

Back to your question, there are 4 of us that really started the group and mediate it each week.  I do most of the organizing (lining up our rotation of churches to visit, looking for special speakers, events, etc.).  One of our brothers has fallen but has also risen to glory with His savior (he died suddenly this year in his sleep the same night that we had met, it was really tough for awhile).

That is great news. I hope my home fellowship starts seeing some growth, its been a long backslide for the last few months. Really painful to think about.

Have you guys thought about roles, like "teacher"  and "evagerlist" etc?

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JFS

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Re: Christians: House Churches?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2015, 07:19:02 pm »
We have stayed away from titles (intentionally) because we felt that it was important that we see everyone become a leader in some kind of ministry.  There are 8 of us that I have witnessed real spiritual growth in the last year and a half or so (visible, tangible growth) so, to that end, it has been successful.  The key seems to be the corporate prayer.  Without that, we become feeble and weak.  The mutual encouragement is vital but it is also supplemental to the broken, contrite hearts that commune with God.

Back to your question, there are 4 of us that really started the group and mediate it each week.  I do most of the organizing (lining up our rotation of churches to visit, looking for special speakers, events, etc.).  One of our brothers has fallen but has also risen to glory with His savior (he died suddenly this year in his sleep the same night that we had met, it was really tough for awhile).

That is great news. I hope my home fellowship starts seeing some growth, its been a long backslide for the last few months. Really painful to think about.

Have you guys thought about roles, like "teacher"  and "evagerlist" etc?

We are slowly going down that road right now.  We are trying to get some people down to do evangelism training for a night.

The group has its problems like any other gathering but for an interfaith gathering I would say that it has a lot less problems than those encountered within the average church (which is ironic).

Some people don't like that we have pushed tradition aside.  It makes some people highly uncomfortable as if we are going to start our own church (well, we kinda have...lol).  But we all still belong to our larger congregations.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2015, 07:32:52 pm by JFS »
"Influencing people for the good of myself is manipulation; influencing people for the good of the kingdom is motivation." -Alistair Begg