I have been a Christian for about 13 years. Just about every Sunday, I wake up, get in the car, drive to a building, to then sit in a seat, sing, tithe, and listen to a man give a sermon.
The next Sunday, repeat.
Is that church though? Is the typical Sunday morning experience the church that Jesus and His disciples envisioned for Christians?
I believe the model of the church laid out in the book of Acts is the model that God desires for us. I believe God is asking us “My House or yours? Are you wanting My design for the church or man’s design for the church?”
The house church model or organic church model, very closely resembles the Acts church and rivals the standard Sunday morning model in many way:
1. Sunday morning church is a spectator sport where you sit and watch “special” people do “special” things.House church on the other hand, is a participatory sport wherein everyone contributes, making each person important or “special.” Just as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:14 “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” Also in verse 19-20 “If all were a single member,where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
2. Typical church does not encourage relationship or fellowship. You enter a building, sit in a seat, and maybe have a few minutes before service and after service to connect with people. House churches are designed with relationship in mind. They incorporate fellowship into every gathering, not a few minutes here and there.
3. Some people may not like this but within a house church it is impossible to remain nameless or anonymous. My husband and I started chatting with a couple at a breakfast spot one Sunday morning. Turned out we attended the same church at the time, which was a large 7,000 person church. The wife said “Don’t you just love a church that big? You can just slip in and slip out. No one even notices if you are there or not one Sunday.” My heart fell heavy. Church is not anonymity. Church is intimacy and accountability.
4. Sunday morning church services often make you choose. For instance, would you like to attend the “traditional service at 8:00 a.m.,” the “contemporary service at 10:00 a.m.,” or the “young singles service at 6:00 p.m.,” ? I believe that the church should consist of everyone, young and old, new in the faith and the mature in the faith. House churches encourage all walks of life to be engaged in church life together. That includes singles, marrieds, families, widows, and everything in between.
5. The inclusion of all ages and walks of life within a house church coupled with the house church structure also encourages real discipleship. My husband and I are true believers in the call to disciple others just as Jesus did with His twelve. I believe nothing helps further the growth and maturity of believers like discipleship. House churches help foster discipleship thus fostering qualitative and quantitative growth.
6. House churches are by design viral, quickly expandable, and easy to reproduce. Traditional churches are built from the ground up and then move vertically, structured with a hierarchy and leaders. House churches expand outward and move horizontally, where by every person is both participating and responsible for the outcome. This difference in direction allows for house churches to quickly and effectively multiply and fosters a sense of ownership among church members.
7. The benefit of quick multiplication is a rather obvious one: More people in a church home, faster. However there is also the added benefit of more rapidly and intentionally affecting a neighborhood or community. Since house churches can spread so quickly they can penetrate an entire neighborhood or community for Christ.
8. And what do you have when an entire community is introduced to a house church movement? True evangelism. (This concept gets me charged up). Essentially house churches say, “Don’t bring people to church…we will bring church to the people.” That I believe is God’s heart.
9. Finally, when you combine these ideas: intimacy, participation, accountability, fellowship, community, and evangelism, you are literally living life together as God called us to do so. That is the image that comes to my mind when I think of how church should be…living life together, in the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sharing in our joys, tribulations, and victories. A real family. A true representation of Christ. The blameless and spotless bride.
There is much more to say on the subject of house churches. I could go on and on. I presently attend a traditional Sunday church service, through which I am blessed, encouraged, and admonished. However, I know that the Lord is calling myself and my family to something different. I crave the closeness, community, and vitality that a house church can offer. I long to feel significant, knowing that I, along with every other person, is designed to participate within the body. I am ready for something more than a 2 hour Sunday service. I am ready for God’s House…are you?
Does the house church movement sound appealing or unappealing to you? What do you like about traditional church service? What do you dislike?