House Church Movement Right or Wrong?

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JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
What is the Biblical view of the house church movement? When we were searching for a good reformed church a few years back, we looked into it, and though I couldn't find anything wrong with the idea of meeting in a house (in Acts they met from house to house), something about this movement bothered us.

Any thoughts?
 

Simply_Nikki

Puritan Board Junior
My home church met in a house for months because they lacked any other facilities. The only downside is it doesn't allow much room for growth. But since then they've been able to rent another facility.

I don't see anything wrong with it, I liked the coziness and family orientedness of it. You actually felt like these were your real brothers and sisters in Christ worshipping together in the living room =)

I think smaller congregrations where there are just a handful of people may do well meeting in a home if they don't have the funds for an actual building, but like I said it doesn't allow much room for a congregation to grow if they are set on staying in a house. :2cents:
 

Gage Browning

Puritan Board Freshman
The location is fine. The self-ordination that seems to associate with these movements is the problem.

Knowing some folks in that movement....self ordination is extremely troublesome and rampant in the movement. If it's a PCA, SBC, RPCNA Church plant w/ no facilities, I don't know but I doubt anyone would have a problem w/ that.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Although many reformed churches are not plagued with the following problems, here are some of the reasons I've heard to support the house church movement:

Churches are pastor centered, not God centered.
Organized churches don't allow people to exercise their spiritual gifts.
Churches are program-centered, not God-centered
The church shouldn't be spending money on buildings, rather spending them on missions, so it is better off to meet in homes.
Churches report to the government, and we should have a clear separation between church and state.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
What if this occurred in China where some provinces lack men who can ordain others officially, and so they meet unofficially in an irregular church until the leadership can be ordained?

Would this lack of ordination be more forgivable under these circumstances?

When I think house church I think NT or persecution, but it appears that this is growing intentionally in the US too.
 

Simply_Nikki

Puritan Board Junior
I think most of these are just broad sweeping false generalizations by people who had bad experiences with a particular organized church.

Although a some-what compelling argument could probably stem form the last one.

Although many reformed churches are not plagued with the following problems, here are some of the reasons I've heard to support the house church movement:

Churches are pastor centered, not God centered.
Organized churches don't allow people to exercise their spiritual gifts.
Churches are program-centered, not God-centered
The church shouldn't be spending money on buildings, rather spending them on missions, so it is better off to meet in homes.
Churches report to the government, and we should have a clear separation between church and state.
 
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ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
The owner of this board, Rev McMahon was pastor of an RPCGA church that met in a member's house.

I do think there are some logistical issues that need to be considered. For instance, I personally think that the only visuals that are to be present as the service takes place is the word and sacrament. So the host may need to "whitewash" the settings where the assembly meets. That means remove all nik-naks (sp?) and Lava lamps... oh and the occasional home that has posters of Bob Vigneault on the walls (you know who you are).
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
I almost feel the same way with regards to family worship... Those things (nik-naks, lava lamps, photo's on wall, etc) are distractions to worshipping even in a family setting...

Sometimes I feel just about getting a separate small room set aside for the family worship area where are no distractions of any kind... As you put it "Whitewashed"...

:detective:



The owner of this board, Rev McMahon was pastor of an RPCGA church that met in a member's house.

I do think there are some logistical issues that need to be considered. For instance, I personally think that the only visuals that are to be present as the service takes place is the word and sacrament. So the host may need to "whitewash" the settings where the assembly meets. That means remove all nik-naks (sp?) and Lava lamps... oh and the occasional home that has posters of Bob Vigneault on the walls (you know who you are).
 

ModernPuritan?

Puritan Board Freshman
Although many reformed churches are not plagued with the following problems, here are some of the reasons I've heard to support the house church movement:

Churches are pastor centered, not God centered.
Organized churches don't allow people to exercise their spiritual gifts.
Churches are program-centered, not God-centered
The church shouldn't be spending money on buildings, rather spending them on missions, so it is better off to meet in homes.
Churches report to the government, and we should have a clear separation between church and state.

the one about spending money on churces vs missions is one ive heard a bit. but seems to me we can also focus on the home front too. there are unregenerate hellions in the states too.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The owner of this board, Rev McMahon was pastor of an RPCGA church that met in a member's house.

I do think there are some logistical issues that need to be considered. For instance, I personally think that the only visuals that are to be present as the service takes place is the word and sacrament. So the host may need to "whitewash" the settings where the assembly meets. That means remove all nik-naks (sp?) and Lava lamps... oh and the occasional home that has posters of Bob Vigneault on the walls (you know who you are).

Brother, your comment above is worthy to open another thread.
 

Gage Browning

Puritan Board Freshman
What if this occurred in China where some provinces lack men who can ordain others officially, and so they meet unofficially in an irregular church until the leadership can be ordained?

Would this lack of ordination be more forgivable under these circumstances?

When I think house church I think NT or persecution, but it appears that this is growing intentionally in the US too.


If we get to the point where we are persecuted like our brothers and sisters in underground China...then yes more forgivable. But there are house churches in underground china that have pastors who are also under authority and have to be approved by a group of godly men.
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
The owner of this board, Rev McMahon was pastor of an RPCGA church that met in a member's house.

I do think there are some logistical issues that need to be considered. For instance, I personally think that the only visuals that are to be present as the service takes place is the word and sacrament. So the host may need to "whitewash" the settings where the assembly meets. That means remove all nik-naks (sp?) and Lava lamps... oh and the occasional home that has posters of Bob Vigneault on the walls (you know who you are).

Brother, your comment above is worthy to open another thread.

Sure, no intention to detract.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, there are many who are ordained, but also many who are not...

It does seem that deliberately meeting without prioritizing ordination does not seem as forigivable. Especilaly in the US.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Just to make it clear, I am not speaking of churches that meet in homes. I am speaking of the house church movement, which as Pergamum pointed out is a growing movement in the USA.

I realize that there are lots of reasons why a group of believers might meet in a home, and the scriptures certainly back that up.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
A distinction needs to be made between churches who happen to meet in a home because it is the most suitable meeting place at the present time and the house church movement that argues that house churching is the only biblical way to do church and that says churches are pagan, etc.
 

mshingler

Puritan Board Freshman
I had to read a book for a class, recently, from the sort of "extreme end" of this movement. I then wrote up a review/critique of the book, "Pagan Christianity" by George Barna and Frank Viola. I can email a copy of that if interested. I think there were some legitimate issues brought up in the book, I just think the authors, as well as some others in the house church movement, have reacted with an unbiblical position that swings to pendulum too far the other direction. It seems to me that there is also a sort of underlying disdain for any authority or structure, at least from the perspective of those represented by the book.
 

TaylorOtwell

Puritan Board Junior
It is Biblical and wise.

Reasons such as money, intimacy, interaction, etc. are all valid.

However, are people validly ordained as elders and deacons because of someone who declared them such, or are they valid elders and deacons because they meet the Scriptural requirements for the position?

For instance, if a group of believers Biblically determine that the "traditional" churches in their area have forsaken the Biblical model of the church (we'll assume they are correct in their judgment), then shouldn't they be able to begin fellowshipping together and elect their own elders based on Scriptural guidelines? Or, were the posts concerning self-ordination referring to people who suddenly declare themselves elders?

Regarding the growth issue, it may be beneficial to determine at the outset to multiply the church by division base on geographical location if the group grows to a certain number. Although, this could be cause for heartache, and a rented (or even owned) location isn't necessarily forbidden in the Scripture.

Regarding the interaction and exercise of gifts, I think this type of format would better allow us to spur one another on towards love and good works. I understand that many traditional style churches allow plenty of time for intimate interaction; however, I think it is safe to say the majority don't. The typical American "rush out of church to get to lunch" mentality is hindering godly growth. If the brothers and sisters engaged in rich spiritual interaction before and after worship, I think we would see much growth in grace and knowledge of the Lord.

I almost feel the same way with regards to family worship... Those things (nik-naks, lava lamps, photo's on wall, etc) are distractions to worshipping even in a family setting...

Sometimes I feel just about getting a separate small room set aside for the family worship area where are no distractions of any kind... As you put it "Whitewashed"...

:detective:

The owner of this board, Rev McMahon was pastor of an RPCGA church that met in a member's house.

I do think there are some logistical issues that need to be considered. For instance, I personally think that the only visuals that are to be present as the service takes place is the word and sacrament. So the host may need to "whitewash" the settings where the assembly meets. That means remove all nik-naks (sp?) and Lava lamps... oh and the occasional home that has posters of Bob Vigneault on the walls (you know who you are).

With all respect brothers, can we really go from "I personally think..." to saying "the host may need to..."? The burden of having to completely remove all the person's belongs from a room in order to create a pristine worship environment is foreign to the Bible. Now, I could understand if they had some blinking pin-ball machine, but what nik-naks are you referring to? Obviously, you are free to do what you please in your own family worship; however, can we make good case for requiring this in a house church setting?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
As a one time 'pastor' of a home church I can assure you that most who participate are truly seeking God but are victims of some kind of abuse in the organized church. We were like refugees from unbiblical disciplinary practices, liberalism, feminism, purposedrivenism etc.

I am convinced that a church could meet at a home and still function as a church...but usually it doesn't.

Usually there is no authority or discipline.
Usually things are not done in an 'orderly' fashion.
Usually a woman has some kind of authority.
Usually there is no preaching.
These problems hinder the proper administration of the sacrements. (7-Up and cake for the Lord's Supper)

And even if it is functioning as a church but meeting in someone's home, it really isn't a 'public' meeting. You can tell people it is a public meeting and everyone is welcome, but in the end it really is a private affair. No stranger is going to show up for church at the house of someone they do not know. I found this particular problem to be insurmountable because the gospel is supposed to a public proclamation and I don't think you can do that while meeting in someone's home.
 
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KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I had to read a book for a class, recently, from the sort of "extreme end" of this movement. I then wrote up a review/critique of the book, "Pagan Christianity" by George Barna and Frank Viola. I can email a copy of that if interested. I think there were some legitimate issues brought up in the book, I just think the authors, as well as some others in the house church movement, have reacted with an unbiblical position that swings to pendulum too far the other direction. It seems to me that there is also a sort of underlying disdain for any authority or structure, at least from the perspective of those represented by the book.

I was a disciple of Viola for a while but found his interpretations and applications to be very one sided.
 

mshingler

Puritan Board Freshman
I had to read a book for a class, recently, from the sort of "extreme end" of this movement. I then wrote up a review/critique of the book, "Pagan Christianity" by George Barna and Frank Viola. I can email a copy of that if interested. I think there were some legitimate issues brought up in the book, I just think the authors, as well as some others in the house church movement, have reacted with an unbiblical position that swings to pendulum too far the other direction. It seems to me that there is also a sort of underlying disdain for any authority or structure, at least from the perspective of those represented by the book.

I was a disciple of Viola for a while but found his interpretations and applications to be very one sided.

In the book I read, it seemed like most of his argument for what the church should be like came from 1Cor. 14, with little attempt to address the specific historical context of that passage or to weigh it against other Scriptures that didn't fit his ideas as well.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I had to read a book for a class, recently, from the sort of "extreme end" of this movement. I then wrote up a review/critique of the book, "Pagan Christianity" by George Barna and Frank Viola. I can email a copy of that if interested. I think there were some legitimate issues brought up in the book, I just think the authors, as well as some others in the house church movement, have reacted with an unbiblical position that swings to pendulum too far the other direction. It seems to me that there is also a sort of underlying disdain for any authority or structure, at least from the perspective of those represented by the book.

I was a disciple of Viola for a while but found his interpretations and applications to be very one sided.

In the book I read, it seemed like most of his argument for what the church should be like came from 1Cor. 14, with little attempt to address the specific historical context of that passage or to weigh it against other Scriptures that didn't fit his ideas as well.

He also had a total disregard for church history between the end of Acts through today.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
As noted above, various house churches above should be demarcated one from another. Christians, such as those in China, meeting in this manner by necessity are not committing a wrong. Denominational church plants meeting in a home certainly are fine as well. What we are dealing with here in the states with the "house church" movement, however, are a bunch of malcontents, self-important "teachers", and folk who despise being under anyone's authority other than their own. They have local churches available in which to fellowship, but for one reason or another have found themselves too good for any of them. Excuse me if I may be so bold, but having had our chapel disrupted by at least five or six of these groups in various ways, I do not think my evaluation to be too far off the mark.



Common themes among them all (and I am really amazed how many of these groups are out there, I'm still finding more of them all the time):

1. Usually (but not exclusively) lead by headstrong, sepratistic, yet thoroughly untaught men (this third point actually is exclusive), all of whom see themselves as having a special gift to teach.

2. Related to the above point, they all despise seminaries and look down upon men who have received their training from "the dark side". Seminaries produce nothing but spiritually dead academics, and this really frustrates them, because the spiritually dead academic seems to know his Scriptures better, and can regularly refute their fallacious arguments from church history, theology, and Scripture with a thorough knowledge of these subjects, and to top it all off these seminary trained fellows will even bring out their Greek and Hebrew guns on occasion (all of which may be self-satisfactorily defended against by way of a superficial use of a Strong's abridged concordance...)!

3. Because they have no training, and therefore no "skilz", they cannot really preach. This is covered up by asserting in grand post-modern manner that preaching is too "preachy", and overly authoritative. Therefore we only have "talks", which are nothing more than half-baked devotional thoughts. I wondered for the longest time why people kept telling me after my sermon that they really liked my "talks" - now I know. They had never heard a real sermon, and had nothing other by which to label one. People really like this style of teaching in the house group atmosphere, because it makes them feel cozy - no searching and penetrating exhortations found here (unless it is the occasionally required group grovelling - "boy, we all fail like this at times with our wives, don't we?") Even more important a failure, however, is that there is often not a clear and ringing proclamation of the Gospel.

4. They all despise Calvinism/Reformed theology.

5. They all despise any formal church government (i.e. any outside source that would call them to account).

6. They regularly get sick of themselves, divide over some really petty reason, and start at least two more home groups, each of which are headed up by the man who left because his teaching gift was not being properly recognized, and each of which consist of one family (that belonging to the man whose teaching gift was not being recognized). Not to worry about that last point however, because they know that before too long there will be at least a couple of people who will drift in after breaking away from another home group, and thus the cycle will begin yet again.

7. (at least for those here in the state of Oregon) Dave Hunt is their Guitar Hero!
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
I met with a home church a few years ago for several months. I quickly found out that they did not intend to organize and appoint elders nor observe the ordinances. It was no church at all but a religious gathering. Here it is around 4 years later with them and it's still the same.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
As noted above, various house churches above should be demarcated one from another. Christians, such as those in China, meeting in this manner by necessity are not committing a wrong. Denominational church plants meeting in a home certainly are fine as well. What we are dealing with here in the states with the "house church" movement, however, are a bunch of malcontents, self-important "teachers", and folk who despise being under anyone's authority other than their own. They have local churches available in which to fellowship, but for one reason or another have found themselves too good for any of them. Excuse me if I may be so bold, but having had our chapel disrupted by at least five or six of these groups in various ways, I do not think my evaluation to be too far off the mark.

I can't speak for Oregon, but I have not had the same experience. These people are sinners no doubt but their churches are not blameless in this situation. If every single church in the area is snake handlers or Purpose Drivel or pastored by a woman, what are you expecting these people to do? Maybe American churches need to at least consider the possibility that they are not blameless in this matter.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
If every single church in the area is snake handlers or Purpose Drivel or pastored by a woman, what are you expecting these people to do?

Contact the PCA :)

:) I know how you feel. We all feel like there is nothing that could be found objectionable about our own churches. And, probably, the most mature thing for these people to do would be to bite the bullet and go to the best available church. But if churches are no longer teaching the Word, how can we expect Christians to have maturity?

I think as long as American churches continue to go south we are going to see more and more house churches.
 
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