What’s up with the house churches?
July 2, 2007, 11:07 am
Filed under: house church

About six or seven years ago, when I began to rethink my role in faith, church, theology, mission, culture, etc. I didn’t know anybody who was asking the same kinds of questions I was. Oh, there were plenty of people out there that were farther along than I was – I just didn’t know any of them. I slowly began meeting some of them online. About five years ago, I began meeting some of them face to face. For whatever reason, I was meeting a lot of guys that were part of house church communities. Since that time, I’ve continued to meet new folks, and maintain contact with the others.

Michelle and I have had the honor of hanging out with several house churches over the past few years. Good people, good communities. We’ve even been a part of house church expressions as our primary worship communities. Good experiences there.

But something seems to be happening. Within the past six months or so, I know of no less than five house churches that have functioned at varying levels of strength (some fledgling, others what I’d call rock solid), but have decided to call it quits. Different parts of the country, different sets of reasons involved. But the same ultimate result – they no longer meet regularly for worship, community, mission, etc.

I’m not going to assume that it’s either a good thing or bad thing for any of these communities – I’m sure that most have had really solid reasons, and that God still likes ’em.

It does cause me to ask some questions, though. Especially in the area of sustainability. One of the things I love the most about a simple community is that it’s so relational, and not dependent on a paid staff person or programs or buildings, and as a result, has sustainability built right in. But apparently for some, that’s not proving to be the case. That’s sad.

I don’t believe that this is necessarily a bad, bad thing. Even in the cases of communities that have ceased to exist, many have found safe places to explore faith, ask hard questions, heal up from past church-related hurts, and gain a new perspective on the Kingdom of God. That’s all great stuff. I’m thankful for these communities.

So what to think? Do some churches (regular and simple) have a natural life cycle, and it’s o.k. that some die? Does this indicate something about a lack of health? What about sustainability? What about growth and multiplication?

Got way more questions than answers here. Especially given that my own primary worship rhythm doesn’t include house church . . . which I’m not entirely content with. I’ll be interested to watch and listen to what some of my friends have to say about all of this.

On a related note, Jason said some good words about house church last week.


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