Is There a Church in the House?

This is a special report in the Adventist Review – taken from Outreach Magazine. While some congregations build bigger facilities, other faith groups are starting a new trend in worship. See how by clicking on this link.  (First published in the Jan-Feb 2003 edition of Outreach Magazine )

5 Comments Is There a Church in the House?

  1. Matt

    Hi Peter,

    I have been reading through church planting news…Wow! There are some really committed folk out there. It’s inspiring to hear people’s stories on an arena very near and dear to my heart. I haven’t come across ‘Is there a church in the house” yet. Let us know how to get the 10 page “Church planting journey’ to you.


  2. Matt Britten

    Hi Peter, I read ‘Is there a church in the house’ and jumped onto the ‘Time’ website and read “There’s no pulpit like home”. It sounds like a real movement is happening. Just wondering to what degree amongst Adventists?
    Do you know of any official Adventist “house churches”? (My friends back in Poland do church this way but still unofficial)

    Here are a few thoughts when looking at issues that would supposably hold us back from the ‘simple church’ model.

    1) Denominational boundaries – The lines are really only created by what is taught as opposed to the bearing of a name. Who can become a home church leader? How much theological training does one need? (Paul gives advice to young Timothy, and although Paul attended the best theological seminary in Jerusalem, Timothy never attended any seminary). This offers us some alternatives, those trained in a formal sense can indeed help those in “their own house” to train and raise up young leaders to start ‘simple churches’. From what I have read, this style of church was not only prevalent in the first century but dominated our church life for 50 plus years. That is, no settled pastors, just simple ‘social meetings’ where people opened up and spoke what God had been doing through the week, mutual accountability, lots of prayer and Bible study. If anything, we as a denomination should be more open to this type of church!

    2) What about magnetic leaders and potential dissention groups arising? Standard churches have had their fare share of dissention groups. It would seem, no system or structure can avoid such types. Paul’s reference to wolves (Ac 20:29) and advice to ‘not lay hands hastily’ (1Ti 5:22) [appointment to leadership] suggests even the churches he planted were subject to similar problems. Even with all the risks with such churches, that’s no reason to back down from reaching the harvest.

    3) Accountability – If there is no mother church where is the accountability? There is enough biblical evidence, that [regional] overseers (1Ti 3:1) were in place for the 1st century church that by and large met in homes. Paul made a point of visiting the churches that he established and wrote letters to them to help sort through any issues that had arisen.

    4) Tithes and offerings – I like what was said regarding the consumption of funds for building and staffing….House churches are a great alternative in light of rising property costs and administration. The money can go where it was meant to go – reaching the lost!

  3. peter

    We have just changed the ‘process’ for keeping in touch with comments – and I missed yours, Matt. Sorry! But, thanks for your input on issues that would hold us back from the ‘simple church’ model – and you also suggest responses to these issues –

    1) Denominational boundaries: Adventism started as ‘simple church’ – finding identity in our message & mission. There is the danger of structure becoming our identity – and message & mission!

    2) Support & encouragement: The New Testement describes two levels – local gatherings (which was the only meaning of ekklesia or church) and an ‘agency (Tim Harris) network where the planter (Paul or Peter) related to churches they had planted. (This would be an innovative but possibly healthy approach – where church administrators only exercised apostolic authority in churches personally planted by them or their team!)

    3) Affordability: This is becoming a big issue. Many people cannot afford to travel to ‘church’ & the cost of property (and under-used church properties) is exhorbitant. If church is dependent upon buildings for worship and identity – the spread of the gospel will not happen in our major cities. One friend – and supporter of a church planting movement – is now speaking of ‘zero dollar plants’! And the ‘simple church’ model provides a way forward.

    We are certainly speaking of a movement – and more and more Adventists are opting for ‘house churches’. However, although this is our heritage – and practiced in many parts of the world – structures struggle with the concept today (especially in its missional/incarnational form).

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