Those of you who have read my books carefully . . . as well as this blog . . . know that I’m not an advocate of “house church.”
Asking me if I endorse a house church is like asking me if I endorse plants. To which my response is, “what kind of plant are you talking about? I like crape myrtle trees, but I don’t like cactuses or poison ivy.”
House churches are like plants. There are extremely different varieties.
As I’ve often said, a house church is simply a group of Christians who hold their meetings in a home.
That can range from a scaled-down version of the institutional church (very common), to a glorified bible study (even more common), to a once-a-week songfest accompanied by a potluck, to a grade-A, certified cult.
There’s nothing magical about meeting in a home. And a physical house isn’t God’s passion, nor is it mine. Never has been.
In my earlier books, Pagan Christianity (2008), Reimagining Church (2008), and Finding Organic Church (2009), I point out that there’s a monumental difference between a house church and an organic expression of the church.
Some “house churches” (so-called) are organic. Many others are not. George Barna and I make this exact point in Pagan (p. 240).
Despite the fact that what I’ve written above has been repeated on this blog, in my books, and on my podcast, some folks continue to benightedly engage in straw-man argumentation by falsely stating that I believe house churches are “the only way to do church.” [Cough, #Fail.]
To add to the confusion, over the last several years, the phrase “organic church” has been hijacked to mean 1,001 different things.
So the term “organic” is pretty much meaningless now. For that reason, I rarely use it anymore.
And so I don’t advocate “organic church” in the way that it is so often employed today.
What I advocate is Christ-centered, face-to-face community. And that’s what I describe in my earlier books from 2008 and 2009. This means a community that is taking care of one another 24/7 . . . not just twice a week for a meeting. A community that has a shared life together, like an extended family. A community that makes decisions together under the headship of Christ, rather than under a human head. And a community who’s goal in life is to pursue Jesus Christ and His Eternal Purpose together. That kind of community, friends, has always been rare on this earth.
(Note that I’ve written over 20 since 2008, and the newer ones are more radical and more important.)
In short, my view of church is quite simple. The New Testament vision of ekklesia is group of Jesus followers who are learning to live by the indwelling life of Christ together and who are expressing that life in close-knit community that’s 24/7, not just once or twice a week.
That’s it in a nutshell. My conference message, Epic Jesus, unpacks that statement.
For much more, get my new Rethinking Series. One of the volumes is called Rethinking the Church.
And listen to the podcast Why I Don’t Advocate House Church.
Stop Looking for an Organic Church! written in 2014.