Some may be wondering why I am such an ardent promoter of house churches. The answer may not be what many suspect, so I thought I’d address it.
Is it because you are rebellious against authority?
Not at all. I’ve been accused of this many times, usually by those who felt they had authority over other Christians. While it is true such authority doesn’t actually exist in the New Testament, it belongs to Jesus the Lord; this is not why I was attracted to house churches. My feelings towards Christian clergy is actually loving concern. I believe most Christian clergy long to serve God and do serve God. I believe they often get wounded by the ecclesiastical system that we now have as much or more than “laity” do. And, it may come as a surprise to some; many of the proponents of modern house church were originally “Christian clergy.” I was. To be clear, my movement towards house church has never been motivated by anger, resentment, bitterness or rebellion at some leader or leaders. I was well into my movement towards house church before I ever even began to question such issues.
Is it because we only see house churches in the New Testament?
Not really. Again, that may be true, but it was not my motivation. I don’t believe God is that inflexible about ecclesiology nor do I believe God is asking me to be that inflexible. My commitment to house churches doesn’t come from wooden literalism. Nor do I believe that God has rejected or refuses to bless those who are not house church Christians.
Is it because house churches are more practical for the completion of the Great Commission?
Again this is true, and again it is not my motivation; or at least not my complete motivation. I love that house churches are frictionless. For what I mean by that read my post Sand in the Gears. But I don’t believe that if the modern church would just adopt house church structure that there would be some magical benefit to the Kingdom. Such an event would be passive. That is to say, it could be helpful but by itself it could not accomplish what God wants done. Further, I would not advocate such a thing because it would wound those who were not prepared and called by God to move into house church structures. For them the old wine is better (see Luke 5:39). To force such people into a structure they did not understand would not be a loving act.
Is it because house churches are a new covenant structure which doesn’t interfere with the Lordship of Jesus?
This is quite true and it is part of my motivation, but not my complete motivation. In the new covenant Jesus speaks directly into our hearts and minds (Heb. 8:10). He is Lord (see 1 Cor 12:3 and Phil 2:11) and there is no need to have human leaders with power, control and authority. And, I’ve experienced how wonderful it is when Jesus himself actually leads a meeting of Christians (see Authority: How Jesus Leads a Church) but this is not my entire motivation.
Then what is my motivation?
It is the symbiotic combination of a number of factors together. House church structure does not get in the way of the Jesus’ agenda of spreading his Kingdom. That can’t be said of more traditional structures and if I love Jesus I love what He wants. He wants His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I am to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.
I love that house church structure actually allows me to live fully and completely in the new covenant and the lordship of Jesus with no restrictions by human traditions or human control. So house church structure allows access to Jesus, both individually and in community, without any encumbrances. It also allows for the Gospel to spread without any structural impediments. I feel that is very important. But in and of itself this will not fulfill the Great Commission nor connect me/us more deeply with Jesus.
House churches are an empty shell without the power, presence and direction of Jesus himself. And, if we are not careful they can become just as much of a holy huddle as many traditionally structured churches have become. If we love Jesus we love his Kingdom and the spread of his Gospel. For that we need His power and we need to obey him explicitly as He gives specific instructions to our particular situations. House churches can be just as inept at ignoring Jesus as some traditional churches and some traditional churches and traditional Christians are following Jesus into the harvest under his command, for which they are to be commended. So I promote house churches because their structures don’t get in the way of Jesus’ leadership and what He wants to accomplish. This is part of what I’m saying in my book Viral Jesus. But I don’t believe that Jesus has deserted more traditional structures and Christians.
- I’ve repeated a number of questions which have been posed of me as to why I promote house churches. What question would you ask?
- Does this sound to you like I have totally rejected more traditionally structured churches?
- Agree or disagree: structure isn’t important?
- Do you believe, as I do, that structure can unintentionally interfere with our relationship with God?