Arminian Today

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House Churches and Methodology

I have heard it said that the greatest temptation facing the modern pastorate is the allure to study methods instead of theology.  Methodology is what churches unite around now these days.  It is not unheard of for liberals to associate with conservatives so long as the methods are the same.  It is not unheard of for Pentecostals to go to Baptist churches to study their methods and to learn from them how they do church.  And why is this?  First, the evangelical church is losing its foothold in the United States.  People are walking out the door.  Some are going to more liturgical churches because at least in a liturgical church you don’t have to worry about the style of music or hear some hip preacher.  It is very consistent and they have been singing the same songs for hundreds of years.  There is comfort in that.  Secondly, the allure of money.  Mega-churches and the seeker churches make lots and lots of money.  They are cash machines.  This allures to the average preacher who is barely making it.  He wants to provide for his family and to see the church grow but rather than being faithful to the Lord and not to money, the preacher begins to study the seeker models or the local mega church and he begins to follow the methods of that church instead of being faithful to just preach the Word.  Money wins.  And lastly, power.  I think many preachers are hungry for power.  Who doesn’t want the crowd to notice them?  Who doesn’t want people in a local restaurant to notice them when they walk in with their party?  Men desire power and it rubs our egos.

Yet this is all foreign to the New Testament.  The example of Jesus in leadership is one of a servant (Mark 10:45) and He exhorted His own Apostle to not be like the leaders of this world (Matthew 20:20-28).  Leadership in the New Testament Church was to be one based not on a position or power but upon being a servant and one that others could follow by their examples (Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:1-4).  Typically, New Testament leaders were described with verbs rather than nouns.  They were doing the ministry and not being the minister.  Further, the idea that one person is to be the “head” of the Church is foreign.  Jesus alone is the King of the Church (1 Timothy 6:15-16).  Jesus alone is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18).  Jesus alone is building His Church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47).  Jesus alone is the Shepherd of the Church (John 10:11; Hebrews 13:20).  Not once in the New Testament do we find “Pastor Jim” but instead the Lord Jesus is the One that is exalted and He alone is the One that we are to worship and adore.  Not a man.  Not a group of men.  Just Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:4-9).  The Holy Spirit raises up leaders in the local church (Titus 1:5) but He doesn’t exalt one person.  He only exalts Jesus (John 16:14).

House churches then are not caught up in seeking to build “bigger buildings” or “more hip services.”  House churches are only interested in fulfilling 1 Corinthians 11:33.  Certainly Ephesians 4:11-16 is part of the house church but the emphasis is not upon a pastor or a teacher.  The emphasis is first and foremost on Jesus and His kingdom.  Secondly, the focus is on edification of the saints (Hebrews 10:24-25).  The saints of God go out into the world with the gospel (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8) as Christ’s ambassadors to a lost world (2 Corinthians 5:20).  House churches are not interested in programs or in people attending our meetings to hear the gospel.  We want to equip the saints to go out and reach the lost and not bring the lost to a professional teacher to hear a sermon.  House churches need not worry about seeker churches or about how to make money because have no paid staff, no clergy-laity system to fund.  The money we sometimes ask for goes to church planters (apostles if you will), to help the poor (Galatians 2:10), and to help hurting disciples (Acts 4:32-35; 11:27-30).  We require no “tithes and offerings” because we are not interested in funding a job.  We are only interested in funding what God asks us to fund and we don’t do this weekly.  1 Corinthians 16:1-4 is not asking people to tithe but to give to hurting disciples in Jerusalem.

House churches are a relief to many.  They are not interested in your money.  They are not interested in you dressing up.  They are not interested in allowing one person to use their spiritual gift over others (1 Corinthians 12:7).  They are only interested in living out the gospel and preaching the gospel to the lost in the world.  We come together not to hear a sermon but to celebrate the Lord’s Supper knowing that Jesus is our Passover Lamb and He died to save us from sin and to equip us by His Spirit to overcome sin, to love the saints of God, and to witness to the world about this great salvation.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/13/2012 at 10:00 AM

One Response

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  1. I agree with your comments on the advantages of house churches over standard churches. Having participated in different house churches, however, I also know that “methodology” can get a foot in the door of a house church. For example, there are books by house church leaders as to how one should organize, administer, and lead a house church. And some house church pastors lead (and are paid) similarly to standard churches. Nevertheless, I think your description of N.T. (house) churches is on the right track.


    12/13/2012 at 5:16 PM

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