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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Monday, January 23, 2006
The Frustration Driven Church™
Typically unless a church begins as a splinter group from a previous church (for good or bad), it begins as a house church.

A missionary begins to meet regularly with new believers in a house, and eventually, there is enough believers that the assembly begins to refer to itself as a "church" - and we say that a church has been planted.

Praise the Lord for church planters!

Alternately, in countries where Christianity is unpopular (read: you take your life in your hands by naming the name of Christ), believers will meet in houses, caves or wherever, as a means of prolonging both their own life and the lives of those in the church. Wherever open meetings are detrimental to the lives of those involved, house churches flourish.

Persecution, we note, produces "hard-core" faith because those who are persecuted aren't going to risk their lives to join a social club. Persecution cleanses the church that way - it purges out the chaff.

We read that the early church typically met in synagogue and when they were thrown out of the synagogue wherever there was room. Paul taught for two years in Ephesus at the school of Tyranus - and when in Rome we assume he taught in his own rented house (being confined there...) Christians met "house to house" - that is, they visited and ministered with one another - but that is not to suggest, as some have, that the early church met exclusively in houses.

What we see from the new testament, is that when there was no persecution, the church met in the temple and in the synagogue, and even in schools. We further see that when the church was under persecution, it typically got smaller and leaner - such was the nature of persecution (as I have already stated).

Today we see many however, trying to "build" the biblical™ church as though it were a question of capturing the right first century methodology. John MacArthur once said, and I am paraphrasing,

If you want to have a church like they did in the New Testament, you need to
submit yourself to the Holy Spirit just like they did in the New Testament.
The idea being that "doing church" isn't about whether or not you wear togas and sandals, but about whether or not the Holy Spirit is in control.

Many of the house churches we see today, have a thinly veiled, and sometimes open antagonism towards what they call "churchianity" - the established way we do church. They are not so much attacking doctrine as orthopraxy. Church buildings are evil, sermons are unbiblical, large congregations are unbiblical, meeting in houses -is- biblical, small groups -are- biblical, etc. The list is actually quite long and based mostly on a woefully inept/corrupt/fabricated portrait of church history.

There is one horrible little book in particular written by a man I have no respect for, (Wolfgang Simpson, "Houses that change the world") - which teaches a "brand spanking new" way to "do church" but dresses it up as if it were reclaiming the "new testament" methodology. While most of us with even a hint of discernment will recognize that the problem with "church" nowadays is not the buildings, but the people in them. We need to be in prayer for our leaders, in prayer for our congregation - to keep it simple, we need to be in prayer!

Anyway - this is just a vent - not against house churches - but against ignorance. I expect that most of the people leaving the "church" for "house churches" are doing so because they have been sold a bill of goods, but even if they see it for what it is, they ignore it anyway because they are so utterly frustrated with the bureaucracy in some of the church organizations today.

Maybe more on this later.

posted by Daniel @ 12:36 PM  
  • At 4:52 PM, January 23, 2006, Blogger Jennifer said…

    I'm not too familiar with this phenomenon. The church I was attending was focused on building a larger "community center" and outreach ministry. I am now attending a Reformed Baptist church that is quite small.
    I've known people who participate in these home church groups, I think they called them cell groups, and it just seems to me to be a grown-up version of "I'm taking my ball and going home!"
    Corporate worship is a tricky thing. Everyone has their particular preference. Don't home church just cater (acquiesce) to individual tastes in lieu of following established Biblical principles? I know they want to create intimate, personal groups where people feel "plugged-in," but it is at the expense of a true body of believers. The church is not just the parts, but the whole.

  • At 5:08 PM, January 23, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    dude... there is nothing new under the sun. I'm absolutely convinced of it.

  • At 8:20 PM, January 23, 2006, Blogger David said…

    I know there are legitimate house churches, as you have described. However, those that I am familiar with are born out of antagonism toward order, authority, and discipline - rebellion. Creeds and clergy are the enemy, and seminaries are definitely not Biblical. After all, Jesus didn't go to seminary, blah, blag, blah...

  • At 8:54 PM, January 23, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Sadly Daniel, the rigid traditionalism of many established churches is squeezing the life out. I can sympathize with these people as I have been there before. I understand the frustration they have experienced in simply trying to worship Jesus Christ apart from regulations, forms, rituals, and whatever other extraneous requirements.

    There is validity to the issue of backlash however. We are prone to swing to extremes in our reaction to heavy handed religious fervor. We can throw out the whole basket when we maybe need to simply discern what is unnecessary.

    But I tell you, I would rather have the reality of a home church in China or some other suppressed nation than the dead reeking odour of too many pharisaical "churches" in our modern and enlightened society.

    It is truly a shame when we become the reason people are turned off of Christ.

  • At 12:27 AM, January 24, 2006, Blogger Bryan said…

    House churches have recognized a problem, however the solution provided by them I do not think is perfect. I do agree with much of what they attempt to do, but on some issues they do throw away more than needed I think, such as creeds. Some of their division on the leadership in a church is strange as well; this is one area when I read Simpson's book I remember strongly disagreeing with.

    One of the main problems with house churches is that they attract people who have left the traditional church for any reason. This makes it so you have some people there for the right reasons and others who are embracing things they should not be often making up their own rules as they go along.

    The issue in the long run will not be house churches Vs. Traditional churches since house churches will simply become another type of church with the same problems as traditional church, but one of community vs. formality, fellowship vs. meetings...etc. This is the area where the house church shines and ther traditional church has not only dropped the ball; they also lost it.

    I would however agree that seminaries are not biblical, perhaps useful, but not nesscary for a pastor to have attended.


  • At 7:33 AM, January 24, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I personally would love to go to seminary (TMS to be exact), but unless I inherit a lot of cash, there is no way I will ever afford it. ;-D That being said, going to seminary isn't biblical per se - surely the apostles were indoctrinated by Christ, and some form of disciplined indoctrination -is- biblical, but it needn't be seminary (to be sure, most seminaries wouldn't qualify as "discipling" believers anyway!) So I agree on that point.

    I think Jim hit the nail on the head - it is the pendulum swing that is dangerous. Throwing out one set of problems for another set of problems - when the root problem is all that really needs to be dealt with - a failure to submit to Christ.

    If I am submitted to Christ, I learn to be content in whatever state the local assembly is in. It is not for me to fix His church, but for me to love His church. There are legitimate reasons to leave a church; but most people leave because they don't love the people in the church enough to stay choosing instead to serve their own comfort and preference.

    The church is cancerous - and the cancer is this: "I am here to be served" - and when that selfish attitude (bleeding in from the world) permeates the hearts and attitudes of people who are not grounded in Christ - it is fertile soil for discontentment. That discontentment grows sufficient in some people that they begin to blame the church for it, and not the worldly attitudes they themselves are embracing contrary to the Spirit of God.

    One of the sad things about the typical church is that community is either taken for granted or not understood. People tend to fall in with similar people - the deeply spiritual with the deeply spiritual, the intellectual puffs, with the intellectual puffs, the youth with the youth, the married w/children with the married w/children, likewise the married without children, the elderly, the legalists, etc. This "falling in" is more tribal that spiritual. Few congregations have men wise enough to recognize it, and fewer wise enough to direct this natural tendancy to congregate in a more spiritual direction.

    My wife and I have talked in the past about having "potluck" Fridays at our house. Members of the church (and unsaved friends, as well as pretty much anybody) would be encouraged to show up and share a meal and especially fellowship together; singing songs, praying, and discussing our faith and the things the Lord is showing us. An informal time of fellowship.

    It hasn't come off the ground yet, and I don't expect it to for a while (we will have a new baby in three weeks or so Lord willing), but it is an example of one way in which a greater sense of community can be had.

    Really, most people are quick to leave something that they are slow to fix - what a testimony they bring with them eh?

  • At 11:13 AM, January 24, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    My wife and I have talked in the past about having "potluck" Fridays at our house. Members of the church (and unsaved friends, as well as pretty much anybody) would be encouraged to show up and share a meal and especially fellowship together; singing songs, praying, and discussing our faith and the things the Lord is showing us. An informal time of fellowship.

    Daniel, I have had wonderful experiences with this format. This is what fleshes out the bony structure of any organized church structure. It is the informal times of fellowship and love that cause real growth in the body of Christ. This is where my heart lies as well. I would definitely encourage you to this end, my only caution would be to focus on life in Christ rather than simply doctrine.

  • At 5:22 PM, January 24, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I should clarify - when I say "house church" I am not talking about a cell group or a fellowship group affiliated with a larger church, I am speaking specifically of a group of believers who have chosen to leave the "established" church in favor of starting a "house church"

    The side conversation about "fellowship on Fridays" is not in the context of house churches, but rather above and beyond "normal church services"

    Jim - I agree the focus of "fellowship" must remain "Christ."

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