The Re-emergence Of The House Church

The Re-emergence Of The House Church

I am not given to making wild predictions or fanciful proclamations. Those things are best left to those who know that they Know that they KNOW they have heard from God. Still I have an ever-present, non-abating sense of urgency regarding the House Church. Therefore, without any claim as having directly heard from God on the matter, I feel compelled to share some thoughts with you concerning the House Church.

A Little History

House Churches have existed from the very beginning of Christianity; the apostle Paul frequently wrote letters to “the church in your house” (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 2). Beginning in the second century a.d., and forward to this very day, House Churches were gradually replaced by specialized structures built specifically for Christian worship. These structures always required financial resources, and were, indeed still are governed by local regulations. This was especially true for nearly all religious groups during the colonization and settlement of North America.

On the American frontier, devout husbands or wives would conduct some form of simple worship service in the family home on a regular basis. Generally these house church gatherings involved singing, Scripture reading, prayer, and a brief devotional thought or reading from a religious text.

When there were a sufficient number of believers in the area to invite a traveling preacher to conduct services, the members would begin to make plans to build a special structure for public worship (and often education as well). Frequently the same structure would function as the town hall, the local school and the place for Sunday services. They were more along the lines of a civic center/religious center.

The Long Dark Road

Unless you just landed in America from another planet, far, far away, you are aware of the waning acceptance of Christianity in America, and the ever increasing acceptance of Humanism (yes, it is a religion). There is an ever increasing intolerance of traditional Christian values, and those who cling to those values are labeled as snobbish, arrogant, intolerant, bigots, racist, primitive, and unteachable; Christian fanatics. Little by little, believers have allowed politicians, unbelievers, and aliens to this country to dictate both the means and the extent to which we may openly practice our Christian faith.

However, we have now begun to enter more deeply into the shadows, but there is still enough ambient light to see the path ahead of us. Our faith is strong, our pastors are still in place, and our church building serves us well enough. Today we still have enough light to see ahead, but the farther we travel down this road, the darker it is going to get and soon we may not be able to see ahead of us at all. One day we may be stopped dead in our tracks; the pastor will be gone (or replaced by a Federal Appointee), the building will be more of a military headquarters, and doctrine will be a matter of public policy and no longer a matter of Scripture.

If you are thinking that this is just the ramblings of a delusionist, think about these things for a moment:

Where was your outrage when prayer was removed from schools by an atheist?
Where was your outrage when nativity scenes were made taboo by atheists?
Where was your outrage when homosexual marriages were legalized in your state?
Where was your outrage when the sacrifice of children was declared lawful?
Where was your outrage when Barack Obama declared that the United States is NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION?

It is time to wake up, Church, and smell the brimstone. It is safe to assume that there will be no outrage from this point forward, because the Church has become quite comfortable with being told what to do by those who should have had no voice at all. We have traded in our outrage for “peace” at any price; but there is no peace.

They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. 15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. —Jeremiah 6:14-17 AV

Now that I have your attention and (ironically) possibly your outrage, allow me to continue with the original premise — The Re-emergence Of the House Church.

Another Move Of God

Americans have always valued religious freedom, and the twentieth century gave rise to a number of new independent groups and House Churches. Today’s House Churches are not beholden to any particular theological tradition—they may be liberals or conservatives, Holiness, Pentecostal, or charismatic, Calvinists or Arminians. In some instances these House Churches are temporary arrangements to fill in while waiting on a new church building; in other cases they are an answer to prayer for intimacy and community that members have not found in a larger church. Additionally, some groups, like the Old Order River Brethren, regard the House Church as the only biblical model for Christian community and worship. They refuse to use church buildings.

Today, your taste may very well run in the direction of the (now) traditional church building in which a large congregation meets regularly. And to that I must respond, “Glory to Yahweh!” I am most definitely in favor of believers who worship God in spirit and in truth, regardless of where that may take place. My only concern is that you do not get too complacent, too comfortable, with your current mode (and place) of worship; “…for the times they are a changing.”

What is surprising is that a number of people who enjoy Worship Services in a dedicated "Church Building" look askance at those who prefer the more intimate atmosphere of a House Church. It is as if House Church worship of God is somehow inferior or lacking in acceptability.

Pooh, pooh, you say, “There is no way I would ever be so ingrained in my religious observance that I could ever possibly miss a move of God.” Strangely enough, THAT was the precise thinking of the Jews while they were busy not only REJECTING the Messiah, but also CRUCIFYING him.

Seriously, A New Thing

Read your Bible…it is replete with accounts of those who were so complacent that they missed the new thing God was doing or about to do.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. 21 This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. —Isaiah 43:19-21 AV

There are a good many pastors today who are far more intere$ted in number$ and offering$ than they are in perfecting the $aint$ for the work of ministry. (
I already know YOUR pastor is not like that so no need to send me a plethora of emails to set me straight.) The issue, ultimately, has nothing to do with your current pastor; the issue is with you. Are you flexible enough to follow God in a new work? Can you abandon your cherished spot in the second row on the right side of the congregation? Can you take the pressure of not being able to hide in a church of 500; 1500; 5000? Will you be able to survive the close scrutiny of 8-20 believers in a House Church? I am suggesting you think about these things now, before the collapse of your current house of worship becomes a reality.

It May Look Like This

Since you have come this far, why not go all the way and picture what the House Church of tomorrow might look like. Many people participate in an offshoot of their current church; the Home Fellowship.

Many enjoy the Home Fellowship much more than the regular Sunday Worship Service because it is far more intimate; a greater sense of unity. I am going to use this familiar scenario as a basis for what the House Church of tomorrow might look like.

A Loose Format

A song or two, with or without music as the case may be; Bible reading, perhaps a formal teaching (if a teacher is present); prayers and prayer requests; discussions.

While there is certain to be some degree of structure to the assembly in the House Church, it is not likely that it will be of the same nature as that of your current worship service.

Mutual Participation

In a church of 100+, it is simply not possible (or feasible) for everyone to take an active roll in the service. But when the maximum capacity is 8-20 people, 100% participation is easily accomplished.

Furthermore, while timid saints are less likely to participate in larger groups, much of that fear is removed by being in a smaller group, which is generally filled with friends and family.

An Itinerate Pastor/Teacher

It is highly likely that after the collapse (or dismantling) of the typical church building these House Churches will be frequented by an itinerate pastor/teacher (possible even the same pastor you have now). This man (or woman) will bring a more formal message during his/her visitation, answer questions, judge disputes, make suggestions, give encouragement, etc. This will be done on a cyclical, revolving basis; each week visiting a different House Church, rinse, repeat.

Yes, I Mean Underground

If you are wondering if I am suggesting that these House Churches will be of an “underground” nature, the answer is an unqualified, “Possibly!” I have read the Bible from cover to cover several times, and as bad as things are, they are going to get worse. Never forget that! Things ARE going to get WORSE! No amount of prayer, intercession, fasting, pleading, whimpering, or spiritual warfare is going to prevent things from getting worse. Those endeavors may POSTPONE it, but they will not prevent things from getting much, much worse than they are now.

Graciously, that time is not now. But take an honest look around you…it is not as socially acceptable to be a Christian today as it was 50 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago. Yet those whose hearts are filled with love for God and his Messiah cannot abandon gathering with those of like precious faith and worshiping the God of our Salvation.

The Church, Not Judgment

I am not one of those doom and gloom people; honestly I am not. Those people talk about how God is sending judgment on America and the world at large. Doom and gloom, fire and flood, shake and bake, get right or get left; that is simply not me. But I am also not one to sugar-coat the truth either. God is not sending judgment upon America or the world…God sent his Church, the body of Messiah. In the church we find both judgment and blessing. The question now becomes, “Will you minister God’s word when there is nothing but ridicule around you?”

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? —1 Peter 4:17 AV

God is taking a very close look at his church right now. Some adjustments, modifications if you will, must be made. You can resist, rebel, complain, and murmur as Israel did in the wilderness, or you can embrace the changes on the horizon and be a part of the New Thing God is preparing to do. Only one of those options has God’s blessing on it.

All Completely Hypothetical

All of this is, however, completely hypothetical. I mean, after all, your pastor has never told you anything like this before. If something like this were even remotely possible, surely he would have said something to prepare us for it…right?

Think of me as a friendly watchman (this is the time for you to re-read Jeremiah 6:14-17 AV). Or think of me as a poor, misguided delusionist, who has lost his way. In all honesty, it matters nothing what or how you think of me. What does matter is how willing you are to embrace the change that may be (is?) coming, and your willingness to move out of your comfort zone and walk in a new work of God.


The book of Proverbs speaks of calamity coming upon us “suddenly.” It also speaks of those who harden themselves against God’s movement being destroyed suddenly.

Get ready, saints. I say in all earnestness, get ready, be ready, stay ready. I may be completely misguided in my thinking, but even now your heart is understanding what your head is trying desperately to dispel. You owe it to yourself to prepare for a dramatic change in your life as a Believer on the Lord Yeshua of Nazareth. Do not suppose the world knows what is best for you. Do not be caught unprepared. Do not allow God to pass by undetected. §