Reformed house church books?

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thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi! For the most part I am not a big fan of the house church movement. It seems that many involved are those who just want to meet together but not really be the church and have the structure and authority set in place. In fact many in this group have been hostile to the church in the past. But I am beginning to see some advantages to having house churches in small rural communities like where I live, because paying for a church building is not possible or not good stewardship. When I look at the church budget where I pastor, almost all is going either to my salary or paying for the building (insurance, electricity, upkeep). So while I still embrace the idea of the church meeting in buildings as long as it can financially support doing so and be good stewards of what God has entrusted to them, I think that the house church could be a possible option, as long as done Biblically. I know there are some in the reformed community who are more and more embracing properly governed house churches as one form of being the church.

Do you know if there are any books or articles from a reformed theological perspective that deal with the subject of house churches and how they could be beneficial in proper context and following Biblical guidelines?

Thank you!

For His Glory-
 

ericfromcowtown

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm confused. When I think "house church," the least important part of that equation for me is the fact that they happen to be meeting in someone's house. Rather, when I think of "house church," in a Western context, I think first and formost of church governance and a distrust of "institutions." I've never heard of a "properly governed" house church.

Are there no rental options (schools, community centres etc...) available? If there is no difference between a "properly governed" house church and a regular church operating our of a community centre, other than the convenience of not meeting in someone's living room, what exactly are you looking for in a book? What advantages are you thinking about?

I recognize that I may be speaking out of ignorance, and perhaps hastily, it's just that I've never heard the term "house church" and "reformed" in the same sentence before.
 
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Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
^ Yikes!

I think the OP brings up something I've wondered before as well (when I spent time off-grid). And now that I'm thinking about going off-grid again I'm looking for some resources as well.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
One example is Christ Fellowship of Kansas City

Christ Fellowship of Kansas City

in which Jim Elliff is one of the elders.

Jim Elliff

For His Glory-

When I saw the OP, I was going to recommend Jim Elliff's articles on this issue. Their ministry is quite interesting to me. They meet on Sunday evening, with some of the men evangelizing in the morning.

While at this time I'm probably still too much of a traditionalist to be completely sold on the concept, theirs is also about the only multi-site model I've seen that appears to be workable and healthy. It's certainly a far cry from the mega-church model that sometimes features video sermons. They meet together in various homes in the KC area, each one under the leadership of an elder. Then as I recall it all of the members gather together every few weeks.

While in the past few years Elliff has written more and more about their practice and why they do it, unlike many house church folks, he doesn't say that their way is the only way to do church and does not denounce those who meet in church buildings.

In response to the OP, I would think that in more rural areas you would be able to avoid the problems with zoning, parking, etc. that often occur with those house churches that meet in neighborhoods.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
I think that the house church could be a possible option, as long as done Biblically. I know there are some in the reformed community who are more and more embracing properly governed house churches as one form of being the church.
With the Church of Scotland gone the way it has, I'm hearing people talk about this in Scotland and I'm interested in the idea. What would "done Biblically" actually look like, do you think?
I'd better click on the links and see if the answer is there...
 

PastorTim

Puritan Board Freshman
I think we are looking at a distinction between a "house church" in the context of the "house church movement" which evolves out of distate and distrust of churches as institutions and a church meeting in a house. Many new churches begin in a pastor's living room.The former tend to be a reaction to personal church experiences and may in fact even be in a state of rebellion. Contrarily, I believe what our brother speaks more of is a church that meets in a house for logistical reasons. Since it would basically operate the same ecclesiastically as a traditional church it would be in formation as such and not require separate literature on the subject. It would merely be a choice of location. Two distinctive ideas:having church in a house as opposed to being a house church.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm sure there are quite a few helpful books about planting and pastoring Reformed house congregations, but they would have to be translated from a Chinese language, as well as others, who live in a country that oppresses or persecutes Christianity. We, who live in luxury and freedom to worship, could learn practical lessons from those who do this in order to survive.
 

ericfromcowtown

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think we are looking at a distinction between a "house church" in the context of the "house church movement" which evolves out of distate and distrust of churches as institutions and a church meeting in a house. Many new churches begin in a pastor's living room.The former tend to be a reaction to personal church experiences and may in fact even be in a state of rebellion. Contrarily, I believe what our brother speaks more of is a church that meets in a house for logistical reasons. Since it would basically operate the same ecclesiastically as a traditional church it would be in formation as such and not require separate literature on the subject. It would merely be a choice of location. Two distinctive ideas:having church in a house as opposed to being a house church.

I agree Pastor Tim that this is an important distinction. Having a church plant begin to meet in someone's home and then graduate to a church building (or rental location) is quite different from what the "house church movement" promotes.

I did take a look at the church website Pastor Wilson linked to, and that particular church deliberately meets in houses for what they believe are biblical, in addition to pragmatic, reasons. Their expansion plans include the multiplication of connected house churches with the deliberate aim never to move beyond meeting like that.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Might there be an in-between?

When you look at many of the old country churches, they are often a single room for meeting, perhaps with a narthex to keep cold air from coming straight inside. (A good idea given the lack of heat or tiny stove in the middle of the sanctuary.) I may be wrong here, but it seems that the rise of Sunday Schools led to the multi-functional larger buildings we now envision for a church. I'm not saying that it's wrong to have facilities for many ministries, but perhaps we should step back to consider what is really needed, especially for a smaller congregation.

BTW, I love to photograph these churches and have often mulled over whether the saints of 100+ years ago were really any worse off than we are.
 
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