Home Churches

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?

3 thoughts on “Home Churches

  1. I’m with you if the impetus for a house church is to be, as you say, faddish. That is, if the motivation behind the house church is to somehow “commodify faith so that it’s more appetizing to the masses” then certainly that’s a dubious reason to begin a house church. What if, on the other hand, some of these house churches are spring up out of necessity? That is, what if some of these house churches in North America feel that the denominational church, the mega-church, etc. are so beholden to commodification that they opt out, choosing instead to follow the Spirit together as families out of a commitment to living a life that is counter-cultural and against the majority?I’m not sure of the context for this post, but I know a few people in a house church in Kansas City, and they are certainly not doing this as a means of successfully building their house church. Far from it. They are engaged in radical communal living because they have all experienced the shallowness of the traditional mega-church ideas of coerced, 1-hour a week, fellowship style community in small groups. In this sense, they are paralleling your description of the Chinese house church phenomenon, and in the process they are inspiring other people in and around them to consider the radical call to follow Christ.

  2. “commodify” – “majorative” ? Wow, you’re totally emergent – you invent your own words…Seriously though, “Home churches” are about as revolutionary in nature in the West as the hamburger. People have been doing these (small groups-ish) things for decades. Sometimes they fly, sometimes they don’t, but they’re no silver bullet. I also think you have to look at what the goal is – are we looking at being “successful” or being “faithful”? That’s the question before me – or at least trying to be before me.

  3. If you ever need to remind yourself how hard you work, just look back at how long of a blogging hiatus you’ve been on. I hope the end of Advent brings some rest for you!

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