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The House Church Movement and the Future of the USA

We in the West are nowhere near the persecution level of those living in Muslim nations or communist nations such as China or Vietnam.  We know little to no physical attacks here for the gospel.  While I know a few open air preachers who have been arrested for preaching and have been physically attacked by people, most people just go through their day-to-day lives without fear of attack for their Christian faith.  That may change in the future but for now, we enjoy only verbal persecution from the secular media and from the liberals on college campuses.

I do believe, however, that the house church movement will become a dominant force in the Christian culture in the coming years.  It is the house church movement that has sustained (by the grace of God) the disciples in China.  It is the house church movement that sustained the saints of God in the former communist Soviet Union.  It is the house church movement that is growing in Europe as people grow tired of the institutional church and are looking elsewhere for true faith.  It will be the house churches in the United States that will see growth and souls saved as they remain steadfast in the Word of God.

Why will this be?  For several reasons but let me just name a few.

1.  Authentic Faith.  

House churches offer a place for people to live out their faith with others.  There is no hiding here.  You can just show up at a traditional church and no one may even know you are there or even care in some cases.  Not so with house churches.   A “large” house church would be over 10 people so you can’t hide.  We will know your name.  We know your life.  We will both disciple and challenge you in your faith.  This, I believe, was the model of Jesus and should be ours as well.  True discipleship is not learning from a book or sitting in a class.  True discipleship is taking the “one another” texts of the New Testament and seeking to obey them (there are 52 in the NT).  This leads to authentic faith and not merely a show on the stage of many traditional churches.

2.  No Money.

House churches need no money.  There are no salaried pastors.  No land to buy.  No buildings to pay for.  While house churches do sometimes take up money for missions or for hurting Christians, house churches have no budgets to meet, no bills to pay.  I once read that 75% of money in the traditional churches goes toward salaries and buildings.  None of that is found in house churches.  If a disciple wants to give money to their church then so be it.  The house church would then take the money and give it to help church planters (missionaries) or hurting disciples.  This is the NT pattern.

Many people reject going to church because of the emphasis they perceive on money.  With the false “health and wealth” churches and the so-called “prosperity” gospel, many are turned off to Christianity because of their false teachers.  The house church movement doesn’t want your money.

3.  Can Move Around Quickly.

The house churches in China are said to move around quickly.  They do this to avoid arrest.  I have heard the same of the few house churches in North Korea.  Because house churches are not locked down to a building, they don’t need government approval to meet nor do they have to meet all the time in one place.  House churches in China often will meet several times a week at different locations to accommodate the needs of the saints.  They don’t just meet on the Lord’s Day.

Here in the United States, traditional churches are locked down in their buildings.  They need people to generate money for their buildings to pay the bills.  At times, the gospel can be watered down and pragmatism reigns as traditional pastors need people to keep coming to pay the bills.  Further, traditional churches fall under the watchful eye of the government.  As freedom falls in the West, traditional churches will suffer the most as people flee them.

The house church movement will thrive at this point with no buildings, no bills, no salaries, no paper trails, no 501C3.

4.  Can Preach What They Want To.

Traditional churches will no doubt face sensor from the government.  It may come a time where it is illegal to preach against sins such as homosexuality (it will be viewed as discrimination or gender bigotry).  The government will monitor the traditional church (as they do in China).  Traditional churches will have to comply or be gone.

House churches will continue to preach the gospel without hinderance.  Why?  Because what can they take from us but our lives (Philippians 1:21)?  Jesus promised us persecution as His followers (Matthew 5:10-12).  Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will face persecution and hatred (John 15:18-20).  But He told us to be encouraged for He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  In the house churches, we will preach the gospel.  We have no 501c3 you can take.  We have no buildings you can cast us out of.  We have no salaries that require that we go soft on the gospel for the sake of money.  We have no need of this world to survive.  We have the Word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit so we will be fine.

For more information on the house church movement, please see:

House Church Central

New Testament Reformation Fellowship 

Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/21/2014 at 10:26 AM

How The Clergy-Laity System Prevents Biblical Doctrine

In our day, pragmatism reigns.  Leonard Ravenhill use to say that if you let him hear a man preach for five minutes, he could tell you what books the man had been reading.  Sadly, brother Len was right.  I watch as pastor after pastor copies other pastors (usually over success more than character) and they seek to imitate the latest large church growth fads.  In our area, they copy the large seeker churches in hopes they their churches will someday be as large as those churches.  Pastors sit and dream of pastoring large mega-churches with satellite campuses all over the city.  Oh yes, they would gladly say that this is their passion for Jesus to be known and for souls to be saved but most of it is pride and money.

I know I am making some large blanket statements there.  I will begin up front by saying that I am thankful to God that I get to serve Him by driving a truck.  I am surrounded by lost guys.  I am daily getting to know lost sinners and I long to see them saved.  For me, my motivation has nothing to do with building a church or getting their money.  I just want to see souls saved.  I want 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 to be true of me.  I pray that there are many others out there like me.

On the other side are professional pastors.  I once was there myself.  I worked full time in the “ministry” for just over 10 years.  I don’t regret leaving it behind.  In fact, I now serve the Lord better than when I was in full-time “ministry.”  For professional clergy, ministry is both a blessing and a curse.  I don’t doubt that many go into ministry with their hearts set on pleasing the Lord.  Most, including myself, start out with pride being their biggest struggle.  Over time (and many failures), they see that they better trust in Christ or their will indeed fail.  Few reach the level of success that many of the seeker churches have obtained but sadly, the drive to build a big church turns many pastors toward seeker churches.  Seeker churches are driven by pragmatism.  What reigns in a seeker church is not the Word of God but a conviction that the church is for the lost.  The seeker church is designed to attract and keep the “unchurched” coming.  The “sermons” are designed to keep your attention, the music service is full of lights, smoke, flare, and shallow songs designed to keep you excited and coming.  Everything rotates around the conviction that church needs to be cool and attractive.  There is little to no emphasis on verse by verse teaching of the Bible, little to no emphasis on sound doctrine, little to no emphasis on creating an environment of evangelism and prayer.  Instead the focus is singular: the consumer.

For quickly, a biblical understanding of the church is that the church is composed of disciples who meet to build each other up (Hebrews 10:24-25).  If you read 1 Corinthians 14:26 and then consider most churches, few to none actually obey the text.  In most churches, the pastors do everything.  You might have a music pastor, a youth pastor, a children’s pastor, a senior pastor (or the new phrase is “lead pastor”).  They do all the “ministry” of 1 Corinthians 14:26.  The thought of “each one” doing this is unheard of unless you are in a small setting.  A house church can accommodate this text.  The church is to come together to edify each other and in turn the saints are equipped (Ephesians 4:11-16) to do the work of the ministry.  The church goes out to spread the gospel (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21) and does not sit waiting on people to come to them.  1 Corinthians 12:13 is clear that only disciples compose the church.  I heard one brother put it this way, “In the Old Testament, God gave the world Israel and said ‘Come and see’ but in the New Testament, He gave the world the church and said, ‘Go and tell.'”  The Church is not a building as in the Old Testament where God met with His people at His chosen place (Deuteronomy 14:23) but the Church is wherever saints of God meet.  It could be a house.  It could be an office building.  It could be a field.  It could be in a prison.  God is not limited by a building.

I believe the modern pastorate hurts the spread of sound doctrine in many ways.  Pastors struggle with busy schedules as is and yet one man is told to build the church when this is not found in the Bible.  Not one singular pastor is found in the Bible but Jesus Christ (John 10:14).  Jesus is the single head of His Church (Colossians 1:18).  On most churches, they oddly put the name of one person and that is the pastor.  I have often wondered why they only choose one person to place on the name of the marquee.  Why not other gifted people in the church?  Further, where is just one pastor in the Bible?  The word “pastor” only occurs in most English Bibles in Ephesians 4:11 but even there it is not a good translation. The ESV correctly translates it “shepherd” for that is the Greek word used here.  Jesus is called “the chief shepherd” in 1 Peter 5:4.  While it would not be a good translation, one could substitute “pastor” for “shepherd” in John 10:14 or 1 Peter 2:25 or 1 Peter 5:4 and one can see that Jesus is our pastor, He is the lead pastor.

People in churches such as this one above look to one person to lead the church: the pastor.  They don’t look to the Bible per se or to the Spirit to lead them (as He did in Acts 13:2) but to the vision of the pastor.  The pastor, for better or worse, leads them to where he wants to go.  Some pastors do well and lead the church toward Christ and His kingdom.  Others push their own agenda (or usually someone else’s agenda that they admire).  What all pastors rely on is the money of the people and this can be a tough issue.  Some pastors are controlled by a board of deacons or an elder board.  Some pastors have a big giver in the church who controls them.  Other pastors have to be bi-vocational but long for the day that they can work full time in the “ministry.”

Now let me change that all up for you.  Suppose there were no pastors.  What would the church look like?  It would not go away as some quickly think.  Consider the book of Acts.  There were no full-time pastors in the New Testament Church and they did just fine.  Not once in the New Testament is one pastor referred to.  Only once does a book of the New Testament even begin by mentioning leaders and that is Philippians and they are mentioned only after Paul addressed the saints first.  In our day, a letter to a church would always begin by addressing the senior pastor and no one would think of writing a church in our day and never mention the leaders but only one book out of twenty-seven New Testament books evens begin by mentioning the leaders.  The lack of leadership is what is amazing in the New Testament books.  It was as if the Spirit of God was really leading His Church.

The book of 1 Corinthians is a case study unto itself.  Here is a sinful church.  A church that is divided, that has much sin going on in it and much chaos.  Yet Paul the Apostle never addresses the leaders.  He never mentions that leaders should bring the Corinthians under their control.  He never writes to pastors.  He never addresses the elders.  Instead, he calls the church to take care of these issues.  The church as a whole is to do the work.  In our day, we would expect Paul to address the senior leadership and tell them to do this or that to get the Corinthians back in line yet Paul never does this.  He calls them all to repent and take care of the church themselves.  In our day, we look to the pastors to do everything, to take care of problems.  Not so in the New Testament Church!

This view of mine is not to scare pastors.  I know some pastors will feel threatened and they fear having to go and get a “secular” job.  I remember those fears myself.  I actually want to free you pastors.  Not a day goes by that I don’t rejoice that I am not in the ministry anymore.  Yet I praise God that I work a “secular” job that allows me to serve Jesus and not be controlled be a clergy-laity system.  I can preach what I want to preach and not fear that someone is going to get mad and leave.  I can evangelize as I desire without fear of scarring off people who might attend.  I work for 50 hours or more a week, receive my compensation for my work, and then I serve the Lord both on my job and off.  I never fear of losing my position in the “ministry.”  I never fear of having to make church attractive for the lost.  I never worry about having to compete with other churches.  I have one focus: on living a life that honors the Lord (1 Peter 1:15-16).  I am not controlled by money.  I am not controlled by a denomination.  I want to be like the Apostles who called themselves “slaves of Christ” (Romans 1:1 etc.).  A slave doesn’t expect much (Luke 17:7-10).

Traditional pastors have to worry about money.  About people.  About boards.  About programs.  About fads.  About what to preach and what not to preach.  About how not to offend people.  About how much time to devote to family, to prayer, to the Word and yet still pastor people.  About competition with other churches.  About whether the small crowd this Sunday will mean less money.  About how to leave the ministry and make a living.

And none of that is based on the New Testament.

For more information on all this, I encourage you to read Frank Viola’s excellent book, Reimagining Church.  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/17/2014 at 11:24 AM

The Evolution of the Traditional Pastor

As I have been pondering the seeker church the last two days, I have once again gone back to the infallible Word of God for answers.  What is the Church?  Why does it exist?  Why did God create this thing called Church?  How does the Church take the gospel into the world or should the world come to the Church?  Do we need to create an environment where the world comes to us?

Nearly every seeker church will answer yes to the last question.  We need to create an environment where seekers feel comfortable when they attend our gatherings.  A seeker should not feel uncomfortable around a group of Christians.  They should feel welcomed and invited to come and check out these Christians and their risen Savior.  The church meetings should not full of facts (expository preaching) but with truth they can apply to their lives (topical preaching).  The number one sin of the modern church is that we bore people to death and away from Jesus.  Church should be entertaining and fun.  This is the bottom line for seeker driven, seeker sensitive churches.

And they have the results to prove they are right. Each week they have 10,000 or more people gathering in their seeker churches to prove they are doing church right.  From Willow Creek (25,000) to Saddleback (30,000), to North Point (30,000) – they have the numbers so they are right?

This, of course, is sure pragmatism.  Sadly, there are few elders in the Church today who are taking time to question the theology of these churches nor asking the number one question, “Is this biblical?”  The seeker church is not concerned with that question.  Their bottom line is the large crowds and the thousand of dollars they are taking in every week.  Further, seeker church leaders such as Bill Hybels or Andy Stanley are speaking weekly to thousands of traditional pastors trying to get them to move toward this pragmatic church style where numbers are the issue.  I have sat in pastors meetings and listened to them boast about seeker churches and large they are and when I questioned their theology, the answer was the same: they are running thousands.  We are running under a hundred.  We need help and they can help us.

So rather than being faithful to Jesus and just preaching His Word with an eye on pleasing and honoring Him, traditional pastors begin to labor toward the pragmatism of the seeker church.  They ignore all sound biblically advice.  They ignore expository preaching because it is deemed boring and out of touch with modern hearers.  They begin to read books by Stanley or Warren and other seeker church leaders and are drawn by the power and the numbers.  They begin to preach from a dynamic equivalent translation and ignore serious study of the Word.  They begin to even order sermons from the above seeker teachers and use their series’ to hopefully “attract the crowds.”

The traditional church will soon begin to model their church after the larger seeker church they wish to be.  Here in the southern United States the three main churches people want to be seems to be: North Point Community Church (Atlanta, GA), Elevation Church (Charlotte, NC) and New Spring Community Church (Anderson, SC).  All three are seeker driven, seeker sensitive churches.  All three are topical sermons (series), and all three are led by “cool, hip, and relevant” pastors.  They are sucking the life out of the traditional church.  Expository preaching is being cast aside.  True worship of God is being cast aside for music that just sounds good.  The focus of the Church being on God and His glory and the command of Ephesians 4:11-16 are ignored.  The whole focus seems to be on one issue: the seeker.  The church exists to attract the seekers.

On a side note, the book of Acts is clear that the Church went to the world with the gospel (Acts 1:8).  They were obeying the command of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:47; John 20:21).  The disciple of Jesus is to make disciples.  Each disciple is to be an ambassador for Christ to the lost world (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  The disciple gathers with other disciples not to primarily worship God since we are to do this at all times (Romans 12:1-2) but we gather to break bread (Acts 2:46) and in the midst of that, to learn the apostle’s doctrines (Acts 2:42).  We learn the apostle’s doctrine from faithful Bible teachers who teach us what the Bible says and what it means (Ephesians 4:11-16).  Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJV) are some of my favorite passages as it reads:

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Notice the purpose for disciples meeting.  It was not to offer a “safe” place for unbelievers.  It was instead to offer a safe place for disciples.  Remember that the writer of Hebrews is writing to people who are considering going back to Judaism from Christianity.  They had seen and heard the suffering of the saints (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).  They would have heard the words of Paul the Apostle in Romans 8:18.  They knew that suffering would come from the gospel (2 Timothy 3:12).  They needed a safe place for disciples to come together to eat (1 Corinthians 11:20) and to hear the apostle’s doctrine.  Their meetings were places to stir them up to love and good works.

In turn, the disciple of Jesus went into the world with the gospel.  Acts records the apostles taking God’s Word to the nations.  Paul could write in Colossians 1:6 that the gospel was bearing fruit in all the world.  It was doing so because disciples of Jesus were going forth into all the nations.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and the gospel was what they were preaching in the nations.

For more information on the biblical teaching on the Church, I recommend the following Kindle books.

Reimagining Church by Frank Viola

House Church – Simple, Strategic, Scriptural  edited by Steve Atkerson

Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur

The Master’s Plan for the Church by John MacArthur

The Errors of Multisite Churches

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
– 1 Corinthians 14:26

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
– Hebrews 13:7

I could write an entire series on the errors of the modern clergy-laity driven church.  We could discuss so many aspects of modern church life that is foreign to the Bible but nonetheless, we are so entrenched into our traditions that we believe them to be found in the Bible.  Sort of like the first time someone challenged me to find the “sinner’s prayer” for salvation in the Bible.  I answered about begin saved by faith, justified through faith, believing the gospel, etc.  but they challenged me further to show one person who prayed to receive Christ or who was instructed to pray for salvation.  I was dumfounded trying to find one person in the book of Acts who was saved by simply praying a prayer.

One of the fads in the modern evangelical church in the West are multisite churches.  This has become the new desire, to be large enough to meet on various “campuses” around a city.  One multisite church I looked at on the Internet has 19 “campuses” for people to meet.  Most of these sites are not even in the same states.  I know of a church in my area that is sucking the smaller churches dry with a new site that features a church that is nearly 100 miles away.  At a multisite church, you come in and you watch a screen of the Bible teacher who could be hundreds of miles away.  They count you as being in their church despite never even knowing your name.  I know of a man who died while attending one of these multisite churches and a representative from the mega church showed up to tell the grieving family that the superstar pastor would not be able to be there with them but he was thinking about them in their suffering and trials.  Yeah right.

I honestly don’t get the point of multisite churches other than pride.  Why not just plant another church?

In reality, multisite churches are just another reflection of the error of modern church gatherings in the first place.  Christians today believe that the reason we show up on the Lord’s day is to hear preaching.  This is not true.  Others believe we meet on the Lord’s day to worship God.  This is not true.  Some say that we meet on the Lord’s day to be trained through Sunday school or discipleship classes how to live for the Lord.  Again, not true.

In reality, the Lord’s day was to be a day to meet and eat (1 Corinthians 11:20).  For most disciples of Jesus in the early church, the Lord’s day was a work day.  Most would have worked all day and so they would meet in the evening around a meal with the Lord’s supper being the main focus (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  Jesus was the Passover Lamb and He was the focus (1 Corinthians 5:7).  The Lord’s supper (as part of the meal and not the Lord’s tiny snack) would focus the disciples upon the Lord Jesus as their hope (1 Peter 1:3).  The focus of the Lords’ supper would be a gospel focus (Mark 14:22-25).

Acts 20:7 speaks of these gatherings.  Notice the verse says, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”  Notice that the disciples gathered to “break bread” which is to eat.  The eating would have been probably on a floor and not around a table.  The custom was to eat with your legs behind you and you facing the others.  In this context, people would have been a family, close-knit, and one in Christ.  You would have people from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures coming together to eat and to fellowship around the Lord’s table.  Rich people would have been on equal footing with the poor (James 2:1-7).

In this context, of eating around the Lord’s table, true fellowship and discipleship would have taken place (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25).

What about preaching?  In the book of Acts, we find preaching only toward the lost.  In fact, the closest thing we have to church gatherings and preaching is Acts 20:7 and here Paul uses this time because he knows that he will not see these saints again.  It also appears that Paul is not preaching here but simply talking.  To preach is to raise ones voice (see Acts 2:14).  I have no problem with bringing the church together for teaching times but one teacher should not take up the Lord’s day.  I find nothing of this in the New Testament.

In 1 Corinthians 14:26 the Bible is clear that one speaker did not dominate the early church.  The idea of one professional Christian telling other Christians is not found in the Bible.  1 Corinthians 14:26 says that each one can offer a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation but the point is to be for the edification of the church or as the ESV says, “building up.”

Now to return to my issue with multisite churches.  First of all, they don’t obey 1 Corinthians 14:26 at all.  Most evangelical churches don’t.  House churches can offer the best place for this to take place.  Small groups (or cell groups) offer the closest thing we have of this biblical practice in the Bible.  However, cell groups often are an extension of the clergy driven church and often are tightly controlled by the traditional church.

Secondly, how can multisite churches (or even large churches for that matter) obey Hebrews 13:7?  How can I imitate the faith of my elders who live 500 miles from me?  How can I see their prayer lives?  How can I imitate their marriage?  How can I learn how they evangelize or study the Bible?  How can I even submit to my elders (Hebrews 13:17)?

This can happen in smaller groups only.  I know that multisite churches would claim this.  But this is not the same as what we find in 1 Corinthians 11 or 1 Corinthians 14.  According to multisite churches, we meet to hear the professional Bible teacher who lives miles from me and doesn’t know me or my name.  We meet to hear him teach and then we meet in small groups to apply what we learn.  Where is this in the New Testament?  How can we take this approach to church meetings and apply this to 1 Corinthians 11 or 14?  We simply cannot.

For more information on this issue, I highly recommend two books.  One is Paul’s Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Cultural Setting by Robert Banks.  The other is  Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola.  Both are excellent books.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/10/2013 at 1:31 PM

God Is Moving In China

Praying Saints!

Praying Saints!

Here is a picture of the saints of God in China crying out in prayer!  This picture blessed my heart.  This saints of God are crying out and the Lord God is moving mightily in China.  Millions upon millions of souls are hearing the gospel and being saved.

Pray for China.  Pray the house churches in China to continue to see the power of God falling upon them.  Our God reigns!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/14/2013 at 11:03 PM

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

What’s The Problem With House Churches?

For the life of me I have tried over the years to understand how people can oppose house churches.  I know some reject house churches because their tradition is that they must meet in a building that they call a “church” in order to have “worship services” that honor the Lord.  Others oppose house churches because they are too close for comfort.  You can hide in a traditional church but not in a house church (Hebrews 3:13-14).

The major complaint I hear from people in the Internet is that house churches lack “biblical” leadership which typically means that the house churches are 1) not part of a denomination or 2) lack one pastor who has been professionally trained for the ministry.  #2 is by far the most common answer I hear.  House churches, as one critique stated, “Want to play church instead of being the true church.”  He said this because house churches lack a clear clergy-laity system where one man leads the flock of God.

My response to this is simple.

First, the Bible knows nothing of one pastor leading a church.  In the New Testament, the Church is led first by Jesus Himself through His Spirit (Acts 13:1-3) and then by elders (Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1-5).  The elders must fit the description as found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  We find only elders leading the Church and not one professional elder or pastor.  The word “pastor” is found only in Ephesians 4:11 in most English Bibles although the ESV correctly translates the Greek word as “shepherds.”  Jesus, of course, is the “chief shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4).  Jesus faithfully leads the Church (John 10:11) as the good shepherd or pastor.  We find not one pastor in the New Testament.  In fact, all titles given to people in the New Testament Church are what they do and not who they are.  Paul is an Apostle because that is what he does.  We find no Pastor James or Bishop Smith or Elder Joe.

Secondly, house churches do have leadership!  In fact, every biblical house church will have leaders.  Leaders are mentioned in the New Testament Church but their role is not that as found in many modern churches where pastors do all the work, all the teaching, all the preaching, all the evangelizing, all the praying, all the visiting, etc.  In fact, only Paul’s letter to the Philippians even begins by addressing the leaders and the Church (Philippians 1:1).  You would think that if pastors and leaders in the Church are so vital to God’s program then we should expect to find much about them and the Epistles should be addressed first and foremost to the leaders as the true servants of God.

I personally feel that many leaders in the Church are fearful that if they give ownership of the Church to the Holy Spirit then they would lose control.  So be it.  Let us lose control for the glory of God!  God is more than able to build His Church and He is (Acts 2:47; Colossians 2:19).  God alone saves for His glory and God alone leads the Church for His glory (Ephesians 3:20-21).  My earnest prayer to God is that He would reform His Church so that we would all see that we are all called to be priests unto God (1 Peter 2:4-5; Revelation 1:5-6).  The Reformers taught the priesthood of the saints and I pray that we would soon embrace the biblical teaching that we are all called to serve God with all that is in us.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/09/2012 at 7:05 PM

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