Wednesday, October 12, 2005

# 96: The House Church

In the New Testament, at least ten verses tell of first-century Christians getting together and having meetings in each others’ homes, in public places, outdoors, and even at river banks. I believe these places are a truly great example for us as to what our places of worship should be in the 21st century. Relevant Bible verses: Acts 2:2—Acts 15:40—Romans 16:5—1st Corinthians 16:19—Colossians 4:15—Acts 2:46—Acts 5:12—Acts 20:8—1st Corinthians 16:19—Philemon 1:2.

Of course, some will say that house churches were necessary then because their numbers were small, because they weren’t organized yet, or because of other reasons that might or might not have been true. Then others will say, “Oh, we do that. We have our mid-week Bible studies, prayer meetings and other home-type gatherings.” That may be well and good for some. But what I am talking about is those who either don’t have a church because of discontent with the Christian religion per se, or those who have realized all the shortcomings in their church after reading and understanding what this post is making vividly clear. Your house church may start with just two individuals. But the most important aspect of house churches is that there must be agreement about why they don’t desire to be members of an established church and what their spiritual goals are. A house church may not be so easy to start out, and there may be disagreements on vital matters. Then there may be some that will be as wishy-washy as established churches, and desire to compromise imperative standards just to keep its numbers high. Nevertheless, among all the house churches that spring up, there will be some that follow the Bible to the letter; those house churches will find this blog invaluable.

It may be nice to go to an established church building where everyone will sit in comfort with no surprises; everything will be structured. But in that controlled environment, one of the most important aspects of Christianity is lost: spontaneity. Since going to a church building at least once a week is the most important Christian event in the lives of many, the drawback is that rituals like listening to a song, taking a collection, listening to a sermon, saying a prayer or two, and doing other structured trivial events are not what Christianity is all about. Without their knowledge, these churchgoers go in empty and come out just as empty, without any additional spiritual substance. Then one wonders why modern Christianity is an empty religion. It might be noted, as far as we can surmise, that the first church building per se, was built in the third century under the auspices of that scoundrel Constantine.

Now let’s get to the multitudes of benefits to the house church: No paid clergy. No collections unless there is a personal need. Hopefully, no formalities. Get-togethers can be any day or night of the week. Feel free to be oneself. No necessity for a weekly sermon. Anyone can talk about whatever, whenever. No need for protocol or an agenda. Sing in unison or solo, or no songs at all. Have a snack, if desired, letting the kids be kids without interrupting. Getting together is about sharing our lives with each other; that is a vital form of loving each other (in general, women are better at this than men). This is exactly what we need. This sharing of our lives allows us to know each other in intimate ways, like one big family. Actually, there are more advantages to the house church than we can realize; we will become aware of them once they become an important part of our lives. Again, I stress that there must be a consensus of what genuine Christianity consists of and what it doesn’t. As God wills these churches to expand, they must remain small; the maximum should be a dozen people. When they get larger, they can split into smaller groups—much larger than that and there would be problems in two areas: insufficient room and loss of intimacy. The nice part of dividing is that it can be arranged so that no one loses track of each other; people can go to different get-togethers, thus keeping in touch with friends. Did I make myself clear?

Another important aspect in these meetings is that they must not simply turn into social gatherings, although the social part is important. For those leaving churches because of what is not being addressed, it will be a time of much change in their lives. Change is never easy, especially when adjusting one’s life to live in accordance with the New Testament. God does not require a change in one’s belief system only, but a life change that is in accordance with that new belief.

In future posts, I hope to write more on the house church.

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