Monday, March 31, 2008

Why House Church? Good Questions!

In another thread on my blog, some folks raised questions about the whole idea of house churches and I wanted to lift that up as a topic in it's own right. After writing some replies to their questions, it became clear that several threads would be even better! So below is an introduction.

Please note: Although I'm "defending" the idea of house churches here, I don't think it should be an either/or proposition, or that conventional congregations should be abandoned wholesale in favor of nothing but HCs. I see value in both, and I'm eager to see hybrid and partnership forms develop as well. But since HC is appearing as the "new thing", it's natural for it to need more explanation, which is what I'm trying to provide.

So then, these are the concerns I found in the posts:
  • Promotes Separatism; don’t splinter the Body
  • Plenty of Churches already
  • Stewardship: better to invest in existing churches
  • What’s the point? What purpose does the house church serve which is not being met by the church as it already exists?
  • We don’t need “missionaries” because the Church is already here

I'm going to say just a bit about separatism first, but focus on Stewardship, Discipleship and Community in the three posts that follow.

Separatism. Separation and the formation of new congregations is not unique to HCs, and can happen for good or bad reasons. Good reasons might include exceeding space limits, reaching into a new community either geographically or culturally (e.g. Paul to the Greeks, Peter to the Jews), language barriers and so on. Bad reasons abound: fights over minor points of doctrine, personality clashes and childish intolerance of others, selfish & consumeristic insistence on wanting Church to be done “your way” etc. So the creation of a new congregation should be evaluated both by motives and by fruits, to see if it is pleasing to God or not. (It should also be noted that having lots of different groups & congregations is not inherently bad. It can be part of God’s intent for the various “parts of the Body.” Being distinct doesn’t mean you’re not unified in Spirit and purpose.) Since the issues around separation apply equally to new HCs and new conventional congregations, it can’t be a critique of the HC form per se, so I won’t focus on this but we can discuss it more on this thread if people want.

1 comment:

Tim Victor said...

I agree with you on the issue of separatism. More established churches often feel threatened by HCs, feeling that they're all anti- established churches.

Both models of congregating are good and there should be no either/or split between them. Given the diversification of people within society a diversity of styles of congregating and increasingly varied models of worship is healthy.