Even though homes were places where believers gathered in the first century, and modern church planting movements are house-church based, many church pastors are wary of them. There are good reasons – but also some misunderstandings! First, local church pastors don’t want to lose attendees. Attendees provide financial and human resources for their ministries – and no pastor wants to encourage any loss, which house churches seem to represent. Secondly, it is feared that that those involved in house churches reject all ‘authority’ – and, won’t honor the controls of established churches and denominations. Some have been severely burnt by their experiences with established churches, with many involved in house and simple churches seeking fresh ways to share faith and do church. And, it is true, many house churches are insular, not relating the gospel to their communities – quite unlike New Testament churches. But, this is also a failing of established and denominational churches.
Not all house churches wish to network with established community or denominational churches. However, many are open to this – and, house churches can expand the witness of local (even denominational) churches. While participants will not attend the worship services or all activities of the local church, house churches can be satellites of the established church – expanding the witness, membership, attendees and resources of the local church. In some cases such satellite house churches might have representation on the church council/board – with reciprocal affirmation and encouragement. An environment of encouragement and multiplication provide great opportunities for many to shape church in ways that reach their friends and communities.
My only issue with house churches is that I can’t go visit one if I want to without an invite. It just feels to me that church should be held in a public place of some sort.