Friday, February 09, 2007

House Churches

When I speak of "house church" here, I'm not meaning house church as it is used in contemporary parlance. "House church" often has a kind of denominational meaning, meaning groups that use the concept of home meetings as a doctrinal statement. Usually, it's a thinly -- sometimes not thinly -- disguised legalism that says it's somehow sinful to meet in church buildings.

What I mean by "house church" is very small, often start-up congregations meeting in homes because a house is the building that's available. Many congregations start up this way, and there's certainly nothing wrong with it: we have precedent in the New Testament: see I Cor. 16.19, Acts 20.20, Romans 16.5, Colossians 4.15, and Philemon 1.2.

Given the demise of orthodoxy, I wonder if churches meetings in homes is a wave of the future. It may not always be ideal: congregations this small can be rife with pettiness and divisions. But we must never forget that large congregations have issues, too. The secret for keeping the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4.3) is the twin poles of faithfulness and forgiveness, in whatever setting God has placed us.

Let me sketch out what I'm thinking about. A small congregation of perhaps 5 to 10, maybe more, maybe less. A pastor who is bi-vocational (in other words, he works another job to support himself and his family, on the assumption that such a small congregation is unable to pay him much, if at all). Either acapella music or accompanied by guitar, flute, or a keyboard there in the house.

I'm inviting comments on this. Would you feel comfortable (assuming such a congregation is orthodox, both in doctrine and liturgy) in such a setting? Would you go to such a congregation? And if you are a pastor, would you feel comfortable in a call to such a congregation?

1 comment:

Balaamsass51 said...

If it could be done it would be great. But you know as well as I do the dangers. And where to get enough pastors? Old f*r*s like me want a called and ordained Office of the Holy Ministry man. Not some lay person who plays at church.