T H E S I S # 78
A house church is a practical alternative to the evangelical institutional church.
Why do I do what I do?
A most important and probing question. Hopefully your response is: I do what I do because what I do enhances the relationship between Lord Jesus and me.
There are many reasons why you might attach yourself to a house church. Perhaps you can, or will soon be able to say….
I attach myself to a house church in the hopes of strengthening and nourishing my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 15:4: “Abide in Me.”
These three words should be before us always. “Abide in Me, and I in you” is Christ’s Great Invitation to His own, spoken to the twelve shortly before His exit from planet earth. Though He is in New Jerusalem sitting at the right hand of the Father, He is with us. He is present. He wants to enter deeper into who we are, and can only do so if we embrace more fully who He is.
There are degrees of abiding. We all abide in Christ, but some have a more wholesome relationship with Jesus than others. For everyone, improvement is quite possible.
While perusing this section of this book, An Alternative, it is suggested you keep Christ’s three words, “Abide in Me”, in mind and heart, to not let another motive for house church sneak in. You do not want to waste more time, as time gets scarcer with every passing day. Time pursuing something or someone other than Lord Jesus is time wasted.
There is a viable alternative to evangelicalism, and it would be wise to explore this alternative. Let’s look at our choices….
One choice of fellowship, chosen by most, is the institutional church.
Institutional churches make institutionalized christians. An institutionalized christian does not know she is institutionalized. She needs to be preached to (thus 95 Theses, thus Another 95, thus many fine writings on this subject from those having found a better way). Hopefully by now you can clearly see evangelicalism is something to outgrow (escape from?) although it is not without benefits.
The beckoning call of evangelicalism is the same as Christ’s: Abide in us, and we in you. Proof of this harmful abiding relationship is obedience. To know one’s lord, simply observe to whom one bows.
When scrutinized by The Word the IC is found wanting; the two-tier system is harmful and non-Bible. Your escape is not necessarily to be today, but today might be a good time to pray for and plan your freedom.
A second choice of fellowship is a house church.
A house church (that is, a quality house church), when given equal scrutiny, is not found wanting. It is one-tier, it is Biblical, it is relational, it is natural, it bears fruit, and, most important, it enhances one’s relationship with Christ.
While considering house churches, special consideration should be given to the only verse that clearly indicates how a gathering should function….
1 Corinthians 14:26 (NLT): Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.
Everyone participates. Everyone is a preacher and everyone is an audience. Gatherings were intended to be a time of “one another” ministry. (The term “one another” in reference to reciprocal ministry is mentioned several times in the writings of the apostles.)
There are various names for house churches, such as small church, simple church, home church, relational church, Biblical church, etcetera. But we will just stay with house church, though the term is a misnomer (church is christians, not a building). Perhaps a satisfactory definition for a house church is: a self-governed gathering of christians, in a home, at regular intervals, whereby opportunity to express (as the Holy Spirit so directs) is equal to all.
House church is not a new concept; christians had been meeting in homes centuries before evangelicalism and most other religions were invented. There are thousands of house churches throughout North America, but they are most numerous in oppressive countries such as China and Russia and Cuba where christianity has been forced underground.
The one who attaches oneself to a HC will have a radically different outcome than the one depositing oneself into an IC. May the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace to choose wisely. Amen?