I Do Not Believe in House Churches

We seemed adequately warmed up in the present blog series, so I will let er’ loose…

Before all you missional, house church guys freak out: of course I believe in house churches IF…those doing them feel they are following God’s plan and will for them in doing so

This is of course subjective…and between them and God (not for me to judge)

BUT…when was the last time you heard someone talk about house church in this way?  When was the last time they said they felt God leading them to be a part of a house church, or to start a house church?

On the flip side, how many house churches are started by, and attended by people completely infuriated/wounded/burned out with the “institutional church”?

How many people house church out of reaction?

Can you imagine if we said…

My 401K is a mess right now, I am going to stop saving?

My kids are out of control right now, I am giving them up for adoption

You get the point…

But this is exactly what we do with the church!

C hurch sucks, church is broken, church is hypocritical…I am just going to house church

I am not saying house church is not church

I fact, I deeply respect guys like Neil Cole, and Alan Hirsch who feel like it is an effective model to reach this generation

BUT…my concern is that many of the prophetic voices in the church have reached a point of anger, and rather than staying and helping reform, they are “leaving”!

The church has ALWAYS relied on these perspectives…have you heard of Martin Luther. What if he had unplugged, just done church where and with whom he felt comfortable?

Can we please…

-Please stop using the “first century church didn’t have buildings and met in houses, so so should we” argument, as though the early followers of “the way” could have leased a store front or rented out the local pagan temple. It was culture, not principle. Certainly we have gone insane with the buildings idea, and the money we put into them, BUT, you don’t stop have buildings to address this…you stop being stupid about buildings and start using the money on people instead of brick and mortar

-Ask if  church has EVER been for you? Or has it rather been an outlet for you to serve with your talents and gifts? It seems that house church can tend to be about lessening the opportunity to be annoyed because I like everyone I church with. It seems it can be about me growing instead of you growing. It seems that it can be so I can feel authentic. But has church ever been about that? Hasn’t the church always worked off of the idea that the sum was more important, and that loving service was the highest virtue?

-Please, prophetic voices…stay. Please, no more parting shots at the church on my way out the door, and to house church with my pals. My respect for Luther, even though I disagree with the church he stayed in, he chose to stay and reform rather than react, leave, and criticize.

Also, if you are a lead guy, don’t push your prophets to the fringe, welcome them in, allowing their gifts and voice to strengthen the church.

-Don’t give up on us. We are messy, but we can be and do something beautiful



Filed under Journey

9 responses to “I Do Not Believe in House Churches

  1. tami walker

    you did not address the fact that many people when leaving a “real”church are mad and just go to the church down the road. I do not belong to a house church, but in the end, if a church meeting anywhere, is not being the church, then it will fold eventually, not to worry. additionally if they are meeting a real need, then the church will not stay a house churchbut will grow and either multiply or grow out of this model….my view, anything that expands the kingdom and encourages it’s people to do the same is a viable church blessed by God.

    • thanks for your comments…you are absolutely right about the “church down the road” problem.
      also agree that anything that expands the kingdom is a viable, God blessed church
      not sure I agree that a church that is not being the church, and “eventually folding” idea is a reason not to worry…especially when we have such a problem with churches like this, and in such quantity…but i get what you are saying

  2. Adam_S

    I don’t and haven’t ever gone to a house church. I attend a church that recently built a building (in fact two of them simultaneously) for more than $30 million a piece. So I am not really a house church guy. But I don’t find your argument all that persuasive unless it your questions are much broader. Sure people shouldn’t be doing house church unless that is what God is calling them to, but shouldn’t that also be the assumption for all churches? Or is the default regular church? (We should be in regular church unless God has told us to do something else seems to be your thought here as I interpret it.)

    I do agree the being mad at the church is a lousy reason to start a house church. But it is also a lousy reason to change churches (which I think is much more of a problem than leaving to start a new house church). I also don’t believe that being mad a institutional church is the main motivation for starting house churches. And if you talk to Neil Cole, etc, they will say the same thing. They don’t oppose the institutional church, they just think that the house church reaches people that the institutional church doesn’t. And from my conversations more people are starting house churches because they are called than because they are mad at the institutional church.

    The point of this point seems contradict your previous post. The last post seemed to say we should stop blaming the church and start realizing that churches are made up of people. But this post you seem to forget that house churches are also made up of people and are not perfect. Sure you want everyone to be healthy in a house church, but that isn’t true of an institutional church either, so why should we hold house churches to a higher standard.

    • good points man…

      I didn’t necessarily mean the two posts to coincide, but i see what you mean about possibly holding house churches to a higher standard.

      I also agree that anger is not a reason to reform the institutional church…rather than God’s glory

      I think my main concern is the departure of what I would call prophetic voices, many of which follow the George Barna’s of the world in what SEEMS like an allowance of what may be the inevitable failure of the church. I would like those who see the church through different lens to stay in it, and help it change, grow, and become healthy.

      Thanks for your comments…you are exactly the reason I wanted to do this series. I am still working my way through alot of the ideas that lead to people leaving the church (especially the 18-29 crowd) so your imput is very helpful

  3. pastorod

    Pasror Rod here. I’m new to wordpress and I just wanted to say Howdy.
    I agree with you brother, we don’t need anymore “Mad Church” plants. I do agree there is a place for house churches as long as they are ordained by God.

  4. Hey Tim,
    I really enjoyed these last 2 posts, and I love the idea of instead of giving up on your church, changing it. It’s so easy, when you’re looking for an “adventure”, to leave where you’re at and go somewhere else where everything is new and different, but that only lasts for a while. The real challenge is sticking it out where you’re at, and redeeming the broken aspects.

    Plus, I visited a house church a couple of times. It was made up of a few of my friends and I thought I would check it out because I was glad they were at least doing something since they left the “institutional” church. But you are right, it was not started by God, it was started out of their need to “buck the system”. Granted, the church probably didn’t value their gifts the way they should have been valued, but like I said, it’s easier to go somewhere else then to work to change where you’re at.

  5. Adam_S

    I think the “stick with it” problem is a cultural problem more than a church problem (or a house church problem.) It is an issue where we should do different than culture, but often don’t.

    Many churches would be better off if people stuck with them instead of leaving when things don’t go well. I stuck with my last church for about 10 years beyond what my wife wanted to. We ended up leaving only because we moved out of state, but it was an unhealthy church that continued to get more unhealthy once we left. I saw a post yesterday on coaching and how to determine if a person is “uncoachable” and therefore when not to waste your time. I didn’t leave because I didn’t think that God wanted me to leave. But by the time I left pretty much all the rest of the healthy people in the church had left. I am not sure given the criteria I saw yesterday, that the church was “coachable” by God or anyone else.

    The biggest change from when I joined and it was an ok church to when I left and it was a mess was the fact that four other evangelical churches had been planted in the community. Pretty much all of our healthy members left to join one of them. I completely supported those churches and am glad that there are now four healthy churches in a community that used to have 1 moderately healthy church.

  6. Kyle Mountsier

    I agree with your past two posts because of their ground in one idea…the church being God’s and not mans’. The house church may be a good option if it accomplishes the mission of the Gospel. A house church should never have its goal to just be content with filling the walls of its meeting place. And it seems that the idea of a house church may be to become shut off, especially in America. The notion of not being intent about reaching the world outside of our walls is absurd.

    But then again…is that not what “regular” church does all to often? So maybe, the accusation to people fixed on the idea of moving churches or starting home churches could be focused more outward. Instead of asking people to change their church as an option before leaving, why not ask people to reach to change the world around them. Focus out and maybe that will change what is inside the four walls of “church.” I see nothing in the Great Commission about being confined to our walls to fix the people already in them. Love outwardly and maybe that will spur a change, rather than making your pursuit inward and telling someone they need to change.

    Note: some of this has been said, i know….maybe just another look at the same idea

  7. I wouldn’t worry about it, mainly because any church planted with a reactionary or angry tone, whether house church or not, will fail.

    The folks who are genuine (like Hirsch and Cole) are not being angry or reactionary. They are very supportive of all churches. They both gratefully acknowledge the debt they owe to traditional churches.

    The call is to be missional. That is the key. I’ve seen inbred house churches; there is nothing in being small that inherently makes a group more missional. That said, a small missional cell will reproduce far more easily than something requiring a lot of infrastructure.

    But in the missional calling, I do think some are clearly called to “stay” and work for renewal in traditional churches — you’ll get no argument from me. Others are called to go. Let’s all obey and spur each other on, hey?

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