As the church is trying to figure out how to be more culturally relevant one recent suggestion has been to revert back to a home church style. People look at Acts 2 as the Biblical warrant for this structure and then look at recent success in China as a “proof” of its validity.
While I do believe the mainline church and reformed theology in particular needs a creative and energetic buster shot–unfortunately our recent attempt with the moderator seems to have fallen flat–I am hesitant for us to embrace these models for one simple reason.
The Chinese home churches (and early church movement) has arisen out of necessity, not as a fad; they are being persecuted and have to meet in secrecy. Westerners are looking to make the church fadish, and in doing so we commodify faith to make it more appetizing to the masses. So while it is amazing that the Chinese church has started an estimated 6,000-10,000 house churches over the last ten years. Why do we assume that duplicating that effort here would produce the same results? Isn’t that us trying to manipulate the work of the Holy Spirit so that it would implement our strategic planning? Is the “success” of the Chinese church not a result of its structure but because of its radical call to living a life that is not the majorative?