Recently I recorded an episode of the Fire On Your Head Podcast on the subject of missional community with Mark Burgess, and Shaun Wissmann, both missionaries to Peru.
There is a difference as to what a house church is and what an missional community is, and many churches use both. Subsequently, this post won’t necessarily delve into those differences, but as I was getting ready to edit and then publish that particular show, I couldn’t help but think of some conversations I’ve had with people about how “sick of institutional church” they are, and that they are seeking out home churches instead.
I’ve asked peoples’ opinions one on one, and I’ve posted questions later on Facebook and Google+, and I am surprised and a little disappointed about some of the results and conversations. There are things the current house church movement is getting right, and other things it’s getting wrong and missing the mark on. I have to admit it’s very easy to find fault with things, and when I started this post I thought of making a list of pros and cons, but then decided to make two separate posts. Then, in the process of doing that, I realized as a missionary living in Peru, and being involved in missional community, I was more prone to see the negative, or the flaws and have a hard time coming up with the positives.
On any subject.
As a challenge and discipline to myself, I’m posting this article first, and will post what the movement is getting wrong tomorrow. For the meantime, here’s some thoughts on what they are getting right.
Fellowship is more close-knit than in a big church. This lends to people actually helping each other out in times of need, as well as it’s much easier to get to know people better. In the mega churches or even just big churches, or even medium churches it’s hard to meet all the people’s needs, so ministries are developed inside of ministries/churches/departments. This results in the one-on-one or smaller intimate interaction getting lost.
With cell groups or house churches, you are able to create more of a church home, instead having just a big church house.
It’s much harder to fall through the cracks when you’re a part of a smaller community of people. This ties into the first reason, about intimacy, because if you are engaging in actual relationships you are more able to be involved in each others’ lives. However, in a larger setting, it’s much easier to continue to attend and slide into the seat in the back of a large sanctuary and never meet others in attendance and do this week in and week out.
Some people may like it that way, but for those wanting deeper relationships and accountability, a home church serves this purpose much better.
[Tweet “It’s much harder to fall through the cracks when you’re a part of a smaller community of people who know you.”]
3) Personal Freedom
It’s much easier to have healthier discussions sitting around a kitchen table or lounging around in a recreation room or living room, than it is sitting in a pew looking at the back of someone else’s head. People tend to share more. Not just because they can feel more at ease in an atmosphere with fewer people, but also because along with the fewer people, comes more opportunity for each and every person present to play a role should they want to.
Bigger stadium like meetings tend to involve a small percentage of the people involved on the platform, with the rest more as spectators, even if this is not the intention.
4) Outward Focused
When done right and if it’s disciple-oriented and outward-focused, neighbours who would never go to church may start going to the home group since it’s in a less threatening environment and not in another ‘culture’ as some churches tend to resemble. Believers are able to be more involved in the community needs that they see because they are brought more front-and-center in smaller cell group settings where you know each other more personally. This doesn’t really happen in some churches today who are not seeing the community needs around them.
While my other four points may be more along the lines of what’s good about house churches, the recent house church movement itself (loosely so-called) is doing one thing in particular right that is worth noting: people are re-evaluating why they’ve been doing what they’re doing, and searching the Scriptures for understanding about why meeting in homes matters at all, or finding out what people did in the early church era and trying to follow that pattern. Whatever the exact results and conclusions some of us will come to, it’s getting many to dig into the Scriptures themselves.
And THAT is a good thing.
One of my friends from Bible college days told me the following;
Of course house churches are going to be very similar to a regular church, just smaller. That comes as no surprise to me. However, when used in tandem, both regular church and house church, I think they offer a way to bring people closer together, and foster a sense of community, as they did at (name withheld by myself).
[Tweet “When used in tandem, both institutional and house church offer a way to foster a sense of community”]
Questions to Ponder:
What are some things I left out of this list for what are good about house churches over big large corporate-like churches?
What in particular is the “house church movement” doing to bring good to the contemporary Body of Christ?
Tomorrow I’ll post 5 Things The House Church Movement Is Getting Wrong, but in the meantime enjoy this funny video about shallow home groups:
Related Podcasts on House Churches, Missional Communities and being “done with church” (Edited & Updated April 16th/16)
The Called Out Ones: Rethinking the Unthinkable Discussion with Chad Kidd (Download MP3)
Done with Church — Now What? Discussion with Dan Dailey (Download MP3)
Come Up Out of Babylon & Build God’s Temple – A Prophetic Challenge (Download MP3)
Is It Necessary For Christians To Attend Church Meetings? Interview with Dr Stephen Crosby (Download MP3)
What Is Missional Community? with Mark Burgess and Shaun Wissmann (Download MP3)
Church As Community & Disciple Multiplication Hub – Interview with Michael Dow (Download MP3)
If you’d like to get a copy of the audio version of Organic Church: Growing Church Where Life Happens by Neil Cole, head over to audibletrial.com/fireonyourhead and get a copy free with your *30 day free trial*, or click on the photo below.
Are You Making Disciples?
Jesus Didn’t Get His Credentials From Seminary
Is It Possible To Make Disciples Over The Internet?