Home Churches: New or Just the Same Old Thing?

A recent Time article about house churches sent my mind spinning off on a tangent. I have a fondness for the concept of house churches.

But I began to wonder about something. The critique of the home church about megachurches is often that they are too big, not biblical enough, and reflective of America’s self-centered, shopping mall mindset.

Could it be that the same sort of critique could be leveled at home churches? Could it be that home churches – as seen in the States (this is an important qualifier) – are just another version of the desires of the self elevated into another realm of consumer religion?

I’ve always had a deep love for the concept of home churches, but the article in Time really rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, that could be the slant of the writer, but is there something to it?

6 thoughts on “Home Churches: New or Just the Same Old Thing?

  1. Excellent tangent.
    Not that I have a great answer to it, but I think that the concept of house churches can be like a selfish, modern thing. We gravitate towards what is most fun, pleasing, or fitting to us. This is presumptuous: the quieter, passive people may continue with a “mega”church. The talkers, doers, and people that can’t sit still may all gravitate towards a house church. Then we’re all just divided up into the places we LIKE best, rather than what we may need.
    For me, I love house churches. It’s right up my alley. But “big church” is good for me too. To force myself out of my own comfort and to recognize a bigger body of believers that are different from me. They may not all be my best friends, but I need both venues of congregation in order to try to get my mind around this concept of “the Church.” Not just my house church. Not just my megachurch. But the actual Church.

  2. Excellent tangent.
    Not that I have a great answer to it, but I think that the concept of house churches can be like a selfish, modern thing. We gravitate towards what is most fun, pleasing, or fitting to us. This is presumptuous: the quieter, passive people may continue with a “mega”church. The talkers, doers, and people that can’t sit still may all gravitate towards a house church. Then we’re all just divided up into the places we LIKE best, rather than what we may need.
    For me, I love house churches. It’s right up my alley. But “big church” is good for me too. To force myself out of my own comfort and to recognize a bigger body of believers that are different from me. They may not all be my best friends, but I need both venues of congregation in order to try to get my mind around this concept of “the Church.” Not just my house church. Not just my megachurch. But the actual Church.

  3. The article seems to suggest a few things that I think are very dangerous:
    1. Echoing what was said by Matt, I get the sense that many home churches in the U.S. are significantly influenced by a consumerist mentality.
    2. “My age group and younger are seeking spiritual things that they have not found elsewhere.” This may not be a representation of the whole of home church participants, but there just seems to much that is problematic with this way of thinking.
    3. The article mentioned briefly, although seemed to gloss over, the problems that arise concerning Biblical (and theological) accountability in the home churches…something that is ever so important in the U.S. today.

    I’m sure there are other things to mention, but I’ll stop there. One thing I wanted to mention though is a conversation I had with someone from my church. She pointed out that one of the most intrinsic problems with the way people view church is that they tend to consider first: how well does this church serve my needs? …not, how can I serve the needs of the church? Isn’t it more important to look for a church that is in need….instead of looking for a church that can meet our needs?

  4. The article seems to suggest a few things that I think are very dangerous:
    1. Echoing what was said by Matt, I get the sense that many home churches in the U.S. are significantly influenced by a consumerist mentality.
    2. “My age group and younger are seeking spiritual things that they have not found elsewhere.” This may not be a representation of the whole of home church participants, but there just seems to much that is problematic with this way of thinking.
    3. The article mentioned briefly, although seemed to gloss over, the problems that arise concerning Biblical (and theological) accountability in the home churches…something that is ever so important in the U.S. today.

    I’m sure there are other things to mention, but I’ll stop there. One thing I wanted to mention though is a conversation I had with someone from my church. She pointed out that one of the most intrinsic problems with the way people view church is that they tend to consider first: how well does this church serve my needs? …not, how can I serve the needs of the church? Isn’t it more important to look for a church that is in need….instead of looking for a church that can meet our needs?

  5. Ryan and Betsy,

    Thanks for the excellent responses on this article regarding home churches.

    I agree, Ryan, that one of the most problematic approaches to church within the US is ‘how well does this church serve my needs’, often put in the phrase ‘am i being fed at this church?’.

    Underneath it all, I think, is a serious lack of understanding of what the church is. To put it theologically, Christians in the US have sacrificed ecclesiology for methodology.

  6. Ryan and Betsy,

    Thanks for the excellent responses on this article regarding home churches.

    I agree, Ryan, that one of the most problematic approaches to church within the US is ‘how well does this church serve my needs’, often put in the phrase ‘am i being fed at this church?’.

    Underneath it all, I think, is a serious lack of understanding of what the church is. To put it theologically, Christians in the US have sacrificed ecclesiology for methodology.

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