The Case for House Church
By John E. Brosious
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. Romans 16:3 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Romans 16:5
The early church met in homes. There were no church buildings until about the year 230 A.D. Also, the greatest church growth, until recently, took place during those early years.
In China at this time it has been estimated more than 22,000 Chinese are coming to Christ each day through a house church movement.
The explosive growth that is now going on in China and many other parts of the world has this in common with the early church as recorded in the book of Acts. This growth is occurring by the house church approach to evangelism.
There are definite advantages to this approach in house church planting and church multiplication.
To plant a house church…..the expense is very small and remains so…you don’t need to buy property or build a building.
The apostle Paul and many others did very well without a denominational structure and a conference to spread the gospel.
The first communion service was conducted in a house:
Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, the Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.
Jesus often preached to crowds assembled in houses:
And again he entered Capernaum, after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door, and he preached the word to them. Mark 2:1-2
Pentecost came to a church house, when the day of Pentecost came; they were all together in one place….suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Over the centuries we have lost the dynamic of simplicity and have added those things that have slowed and impeded the progress of the church in discipling and carrying out the great commission.
Before I go further, Grace Bible Chapel is a house church, yet I have no problem with believers who choose to meet in the traditional manner. How we meet or where we meet are all matters of individual conscience and stewardship.
I personally believe the house church concept is biblical and is also a very efficient manner in which to carry out the great commission.
However, I do fear the church in its present state has become very much encumbered very much like David dressed in Saul’s armor.
1 Sam. 17:38-39…So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head, he clothed him with a coat of mail.
Then David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk for he had not tested them…..and David said to Saul, I can’t walk with these for I have not tested them, so David took them off.
The church today is in somewhat of the same situation; there is some movement but the machinery set up around it impedes its progress.
1 Sam. 17:40 Then he took his staff in his hand and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook and put them in a shepherd’s bag in a pouch which he had and his sling was in his hand.
1 Sam. 17:45 Then he approached the Philistine Goliath and as he came up to him he said……I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts……the God of the armies of Israel.
A boy, a sling, and five smooth stones against a giant and one more important thing the Lord of hosts…..the church came in the name of the Lord of hosts and in its first 200 years covered the known world.
David also said…..the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s.
1 Cor. 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh…..(Saul’s armour)….for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.
The early church went forth in the power of the Holy Spirit. There were very few of them, they had no buildings and very little money but they had the Holy Spirit and the power of God
Over the centuries we have lost the dynamic of simplicity. Things have been added which have crippled the church and slowed its progress to a crawl under a heavy load of expense, dead tradition and in many cases dead religion.
However, the house church concept is a great evangelistic tool and also the tent making aspect of ministry works well with the founding of house churches.
When a house church reaches the point where things are starting to get crowded it is then time to start another house church.
A church that divides in order to multiply will experience addition…….and a church that has its focus only on addition will bog down and stagnate.
House churches also make a good training ground for future pastors and teachers…..the apprentice method – hands on training….the method Jesus used in training his disciples.
The Greek word ecclesia [church] refers to a meeting of a people called out and summoned together. It designates primarily the congregation of God’s people in Christ who come together as citizens of God’s kingdom.
Eph. 2:19 Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. The word church can refer to a local church.
Acts 15:4 And when they came to Jerusalem they were received by the church (or it can mean the universal church).
Acts 20:28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church. The local body no matter how small is called the church and the worldwide body of Christ is also the universal church.
The types and shadows of the Old Testament were totally fulfilled in Christ. We don’t need the temple, vestments, furniture, the constant sacrifice and the keeping of days and festivals.
This all ended with Christ and the new covenant. Why do you think God allowed the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem beginning with the tearing of the veil in the temple?
Yet there are those who continue to try to drag temple worship back into the church. It was a different concept under the old covenant, it was visual and the church is spiritual.
Christ and his word, the Holy Scriptures, are all in all. We are complete in Him; we have no need for the shadows pointing to the truth. We have the truth. For He did say I am the way, the truth and the life.
May we rejoice that we are freed from endless sacrifice, saved by grace and we are free to worship God alone or together anywhere or at anytime.
The early church not only met in homes but had larger gatherings in public places. In the book of Acts we find the church meeting in the open in a variety of places for public witness.
The most rapid growth of the church has been when the church was not using formal meeting places but remained flexible, mobile and militant. There is nothing wrong with changing outmoded traditional methods which no longer work.
House church is just simple church without frills…..it is a time for those of like faith to meet together with Jesus in their midst…..to talk, sing, pray and study the Bible and build each other up in the faith.
We preach a God that is to be revered and a savior that is ever to be adored. The building does not hold the people together….it is Christ and the relationships that are to bond us together.
A wise Chinese believer said….where there are Christians there is a church. The church is God’s called out people moving together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is the head of the church, although, some men would have you think otherwise.
A house church becomes a city wide church by dividing and multiplying. The basic church remains small. When a house church gets to 20 or 30 people it is time to have a baby and birth a new house church.
It is not just holding church in a house that makes the difference; it is the spirit of the meeting, house church calls for more interaction of the group.
The church needs to get away from the spectator – performer syndrome which has been ongoing for generations.
1 Cor. 14:26 Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation……..none of God’s gifts should be discarded, however, Paul also said……let all things be done decently and in order.
Some say this type of ministry will lead to inept, unqualified leaders. Let us remember an important fact – it is not education alone that makes the preacher.
You will find tares among the wheat no matter how much education the church has. God has his preachers and so does the devil, there can be no doubt of that.
Jesus did not go to the religious system but to ordinary men……1 Cor. For you see your calling brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.
John Wesley, who was a man of great learning with many years of education, said: give me twelve men who love Jesus with all their hearts and who do not fear men or devils and I care not one whit whether they be clergy or laity…..with these men I will change the world.
David Womach, an Assembly of God missionary, wrote there is only one way the great commission can be fulfilled and that is by establishing gospel preaching congregations in every community on the face of the earth.
Now, some will ask; won’t a lot of small churches scattered about cause division and disunity and I answer house churches will cause no more disunity than large churches. They all have the same challenge when it comes to unity.
Eph. 4:3-6 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope. One faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
The bond that ties the church together is peace. You could have one giant organization that includes every Christian on earth and still not have real unity in the spirit……though you may have organizational oneness.
An attitude of strife, divisiveness or sectarianism will destroy the bond of peace.
One step to unity is given in Rom. 14:1. We are told to accept those whose faith is weak without passing judgment on disputable matters.
Now, one of the most painful experiences the traditional church can go through is a church split, however, house churches are born pregnant…..for the vision of the house church is to give birth to another house church and another and another.
The vision of the house church then is saturation church planting….to have Christ’ presence in every neighborhood in every city in every country in the world.
A huge vision, yes, but then we serve a huge God and when He gives what seems an impossible task it then becomes possible.
In closing: Jesus said……I will build My church, let us never forget it is His church and He will build it.
As I have stated earlier there is more to house church than having meetings in someone’s home……..a church is more than just a business concerned with attendance, buildings and cash. It is also more than just an entertainment center. It is to be a family focused on Christ…..a ministry to help each individual member to grow in Him to mature in the faith.
A living stone built upon the rock using our individual gifts to aid in the work of His church and thus may it be said of His church, (behold how they love one another).