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KingsGambit
04-21-2014, 11:05 AM
I initially misread the title of the thread on how to conduct local churches; I assumed it would be about doing house churches. But I do know that there are a good number of people, even in the US, who do house churches. I remember talking to a guy in New York City, where there are very few Protestant churches. I know some people turn to them because they think every single church in their area is too liberal. I also know some people support house churches because that's where the earliest Christians met; I don't have a problem with doing it but I don't see any reason why that particular practice should have to be mandatory for all time (especially given the different political system in the Roman Empire). What are some of the advantages/disadvantages to meeting as such?

Cow Poke
04-21-2014, 11:19 AM
We did a house church about 15 years ago as a "church plant". There was a group of believers who didn't particularly like the available church options in town, and wanted to fellowship together. We met in my living room for about a year and a half, then outgrew that, so we rented a building. Eventually, one of the local churches disbanded (there were some families who were running that church, and it repulsed a lot of people) and we ended up renting that Church building.

Thoughtful Monk
04-21-2014, 03:52 PM
I have read about many churches that started as a Bible study or house church. For me its a valid method of doing church. For me maybe the important downside to a house church is if someone is looking for a church to join, more likely than not they won't find the house church.

mossrose
04-21-2014, 04:00 PM
We are doing a house church now.

Cow Poke
04-21-2014, 04:06 PM
I have read about many churches that started as a Bible study or house church. For me its a valid method of doing church. For me maybe the important downside to a house church is if someone is looking for a church to join, more likely than not they won't find the house church.

There's an old expression in Church Growth --- MOST new members come to the Church on the arm of a friend. :smile:

Cow Poke
04-21-2014, 04:33 PM
We are doing a house church now.

Are you seeking numeric growth? More people?

DesertBerean
04-21-2014, 04:54 PM
I'll have to refresh my memory about why house churches fell into disuse... I wouldn't be surprised to find family politics was a factor. In other words, it became more about a family than about all the members of the body.

mossrose
04-21-2014, 04:56 PM
Are you seeking numeric growth? More people?

There is another couple interested, but they are still thinking about it.

Truthseeker
04-21-2014, 05:32 PM
the important downside to a house church is if someone is looking for a church to join, more likely than not they won't find the house church.

Two reasons: 1) The searcher is not trying hard enough or just had not thought of house churches. 2) The church is not "advertising." Yellow pages, for one thing. A website. An outreach program.

Teallaura
04-22-2014, 06:51 AM
I initially misread the title of the thread on how to conduct local churches; I assumed it would be about doing house churches. But I do know that there are a good number of people, even in the US, who do house churches. I remember talking to a guy in New York City, where there are very few Protestant churches. I know some people turn to them because they think every single church in their area is too liberal. I also know some people support house churches because that's where the earliest Christians met; I don't have a problem with doing it but I don't see any reason why that particular practice should have to be mandatory for all time (especially given the different political system in the Roman Empire). What are some of the advantages/disadvantages to meeting as such?

Advantages:
1) Less investment in real estate.
2) More intimate.
3) Impossible to just be a 'bench warmer'.

Disadvantages:
1) Less accountability.
2) Lacks the resources for many ministries.
3) Political divisions get magnified much more quickly.

Cow Poke
04-22-2014, 06:56 AM
Advantages:
1) Less investment in real estate.
2) More intimate.
3) Impossible to just be a 'bench warmer'.

I wouldn't say it's impossible to be a bench warmer -- when we did a house church, we had a middle-age lady who came just to be around people. Wasn't involved in anything, just enjoyed being there.

And, actually, that impressed me to say, in subsequent situations, "some people come to minister, others to be ministered to", so ... I try to let the "bench warmers" know I appreciate them, and IF they ever feel led to get involved in something, I'd love to talk to them. Sometimes, people just need a "safe place" to be loved.


Disadvantages:
1) Less accountability.

How so?


2) Lacks the resources for many ministries.

True, but I think that makes them look for those "biggest bang for the buck" opportunities to minister, and the ministry opportunities become much more personal and "hands on".


3) Political divisions get magnified much more quickly.

How so?

KingsGambit
04-22-2014, 07:49 AM
It is true that house churches may not be as easily found by the casual seeker... but is this how people come to Christianity? Isn't the traditional means of conversion being actively evangelized or invited by a Christian rather than somebody opening a phone book out of the blue? To this end, it may be that Christians in house churches can invite some outsiders who might be less likely to attend a large church (out of intimidation, preferring a smaller setting, or for whatever reason). If different methods of church can reach different people, as long as we're staying within orthodoxy, I see this as a net positive.

One Bad Pig
04-22-2014, 07:59 AM
I'll have to refresh my memory about why house churches fell into disuse... I wouldn't be surprised to find family politics was a factor. In other words, it became more about a family than about all the members of the body.
As far as I recall, people met in houses because they had no other place to safely meet. Where Christians were even unofficially tolerated, they built special buildings in which to meet; Constantine's building program in many places was dedicated to rebuilding churches that had been destroyed in the last great persecution, not starting from scratch. People again resorted to house churches in the controversies of the 4th/5th centuries prevented them from meeting in area churches under control of this or that religious faction.

Cow Poke
04-22-2014, 08:02 AM
As far as I recall, people met in houses because they had no other place to safely meet. Where Christians were even unofficially tolerated, they built special buildings in which to meet; Constantine's building program in many places was dedicated to rebuilding churches that had been destroyed in the last great persecution, not starting from scratch. People again resorted to house churches in the controversies of the 4th/5th centuries prevented them from meeting in area churches under control of this or that religious faction.

House Churches are VERY prevalent in China. China will soon have more Christians than the USA. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10776023/China-on-course-to-become-worlds-most-Christian-nation-within-15-years.html)

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

By 2030, China's total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

"Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this," Prof Yang said. "It's ironic they didn't. They actually failed completely."

Teallaura
04-22-2014, 09:59 AM
I wouldn't say it's impossible to be a bench warmer -- when we did a house church, we had a middle-age lady who came just to be around people. Wasn't involved in anything, just enjoyed being there.

And, actually, that impressed me to say, in subsequent situations, "some people come to minister, others to be ministered to", so ... I try to let the "bench warmers" know I appreciate them, and IF they ever feel led to get involved in something, I'd love to talk to them. Sometimes, people just need a "safe place" to be loved.Okay - extremely difficult. It's still exceptional in small groups to be a passive participant.

:shrug:




How so? Smaller groups can develop tunnel vision easier than larger. Mind you, any group can do it, but it's harder to catch and correct in small groups. More so if they tend to isolate themselves (that's not a major concern at present with house churches).




True, but I think that makes them look for those "biggest bang for the buck" opportunities to minister, and the ministry opportunities become much more personal and "hands on".
No quarrel here.



How so?It takes a lot longer to spread a controversy in a big group than a small one - and if a small group factions they tend to reinforce the perceived wrong (circle the wagons) more readily.

Again, can happen in any group - but big churches usually overcome small controversies (or completely ignore them) whereas small groups will react to them more. It's a human thing, not a church thing.

Teallaura
04-22-2014, 10:02 AM
It is true that house churches may not be as easily found by the casual seeker... but is this how people come to Christianity? Isn't the traditional means of conversion being actively evangelized or invited by a Christian rather than somebody opening a phone book out of the blue? To this end, it may be that Christians in house churches can invite some outsiders who might be less likely to attend a large church (out of intimidation, preferring a smaller setting, or for whatever reason). If different methods of church can reach different people, as long as we're staying within orthodoxy, I see this as a net positive.
I'm a big believer in 'one size fits all is NOT true of churches'. As long as we maintain orthodoxy, as you said, I think there's a place for every type of church and all have advantages to some seekers.

Cow Poke
04-22-2014, 11:56 AM
Okay - extremely difficult. It's still exceptional in small groups to be a passive participant.

:shrug:

Perhaps we're not thinking of the same "House Church" concept. They're not all operating like a "small group" Bible study kind of thing. Ours (and others with which I am familiar) was more like a "small Church" in a house, than a "small group" as in a Bible study.


Smaller groups can develop tunnel vision easier than larger. Mind you, any group can do it, but it's harder to catch and correct in small groups. More so if they tend to isolate themselves (that's not a major concern at present with house churches).

I think that entirely depends on the leadership of the House Church... if they're actively following a Biblical model, I'd think they'd be LESS likely to do what you're saying.


It takes a lot longer to spread a controversy in a big group than a small one - and if a small group factions they tend to reinforce the perceived wrong (circle the wagons) more readily.

And, if there's good leadership, it's much easier to "nip it in the bud", and make a correction.


Again, can happen in any group - but big churches usually overcome small controversies (or completely ignore them) whereas small groups will react to them more. It's a human thing, not a church thing.

Meh... again, if you're talking about a "home Bible study" where everybody is (for lack of a better expression) simply pooling their ignorance (SOMETIMES that's what's happening) that might be true -- but if it's an actual "house Church" with a Biblical model / pastor / proper motivation, I disagree.

And I've actually BEEN there. :tongue:

Teallaura
04-22-2014, 02:11 PM
Perhaps we're not thinking of the same "House Church" concept. They're not all operating like a "small group" Bible study kind of thing. Ours (and others with which I am familiar) was more like a "small Church" in a house, than a "small group" as in a Bible study.



I think that entirely depends on the leadership of the House Church... if they're actively following a Biblical model, I'd think they'd be LESS likely to do what you're saying.



And, if there's good leadership, it's much easier to "nip it in the bud", and make a correction.



Meh... again, if you're talking about a "home Bible study" where everybody is (for lack of a better expression) simply pooling their ignorance (SOMETIMES that's what's happening) that might be true -- but if it's an actual "house Church" with a Biblical model / pastor / proper motivation, I disagree.

And I've actually BEEN there. :tongue:

I agree it depends on the church - 'more or less likely' isn't the same thing as 'will definitely happen' nor did I imply that it always or even mostly happened.

"Small" is a relative concept - especially in my neck of the woods where few 'small' churches could meet in a home. And I have seen the same sorts of things happen in small churches - and I've actually BEEN there, too.

Cow Poke
04-22-2014, 02:13 PM
I agree it depends on the church - 'more or less likely' isn't the same thing as 'will definitely happen' nor did I imply that it always or even mostly happened.

"Small" is a relative concept - especially in my neck of the woods where few 'small' churches could meet in a home. And I have seen the same sorts of things happen in small churches - and I've actually BEEN there, too.

I bet you CAUSED those problems! :yes:

Teallaura
04-22-2014, 02:13 PM
I bet you CAUSED those problems! :yes:

:bawl: I'm gonna tell your mom you're being mean to me!

Cow Poke
04-22-2014, 02:15 PM
:bawl: I'm gonna tell your mom you're being mean to me!

She'll clobber you with her combat boots! :smug:

Teallaura
04-22-2014, 02:17 PM
:sad: Did not. She was really nice and gave me a cookie. Oh, and she said to tell you she wants to see you - and to bring her her combat boots.

Cow Poke
04-22-2014, 02:19 PM
:sad: Did not. She was really nice and gave me a cookie. Oh, and she said to tell you she wants to see you - and to bring her her combat boots.

That's gonna be a challenge. :sad: She's been in Heaven since 2010. So you're the meanest nastiest foulest meanest (did I say meanest) Christian there ever was cause you KNEW that and was only saying that cause you're the MEANEST! :rant: That's how you CHRISTIANS ARE!!!!


And I want to get into that.

Teallaura
04-22-2014, 02:21 PM
What? :huh: Don't you even visit?


You might as well get into it - you get into everything else.... :grin:

Paprika
04-23-2014, 08:16 PM
The greatest advantage is that you aren't tied to a specific building (http://www.garynorth.com/public/12131.cfm).

One Bad Pig
04-24-2014, 06:34 AM
The greatest advantage is that you aren't tied to a specific building (http://www.garynorth.com/public/12131.cfm).
Eh, some good, lots wrong with that column. An example, more or less at random:

The column opines that church buildings are bad because the have the problem of real estate; if everyone in the congregation invited a friend, and all the invitees came, there'd be no place for everyone to park. Never mind, for a moment, the sheer improbability of that happening. This is different from a house church. . . how exactly?

Paprika
04-24-2014, 06:38 AM
Eh, some good, lots wrong with that column. An example, more or less at random:

The column opines that church buildings are bad because the have the problem of real estate; if everyone in the congregation invited a friend, and all the invitees came, there'd be no place for everyone to park. Never mind, for a moment, the sheer improbability of that happening. This is different from a house church. . . how exactly?
The hyperbolic point about no place to park is that expansion is hindered by being bound to "official" church buildings due to limited capacity. House churches admit expansion much more easily by budding off like yeast.

KingsGambit
04-24-2014, 06:47 AM
The hyperbolic point about no place to park is that expansion is hindered by being bound to "official" church buildings due to limited capacity. House churches admit expansion much more easily by budding off like yeast.

And churches with their own buildings generally get around this by adding additional service times, if they are fortunate enough to even have this problem. :shrug:

One Bad Pig
04-24-2014, 06:53 AM
The hyperbolic point about no place to park is that expansion is hindered by being bound to "official" church buildings due to limited capacity. House churches admit expansion much more easily by budding off like yeast.
Yeah, if the qualifications of the leader are ignored. Seminaries have been around for much longer than Mr. North imagines - and even before then, there were minimum age/time after conversion limits which were seldom ignored, these limits having been set by experience. And the idea of getting indigenous leadership involved ASAP in mission fields is hardly limited to house churches.

Paprika
04-24-2014, 07:14 AM
And churches with their own buildings generally get around this by adding additional service times, if they are fortunate enough to even have this problem. :shrug:
The model North sketches is for and to sustain an environment with high growth. That it's unsuitable for your country, which has had, on average, limited to negative growth isn't a flaw with the model, but with your people.

Paprika
04-24-2014, 07:15 AM
Yeah, if the qualifications of the leader are ignored. Seminaries have been around for much longer than Mr. North imagines - and even before then, there were minimum age/time after conversion limits which were seldom ignored, these limits having been set by experience. And the idea of getting indigenous leadership involved ASAP in mission fields is hardly limited to house churches.
Right. So what precisely is the problem you see here?

KingsGambit
04-24-2014, 07:18 AM
The model North sketches is for and to sustain an environment with high growth. That it's unsuitable for your country, which has had, on average, limited to negative growth isn't a flaw with the model, but with your people.

If the application is for, say, the US, I don't think North's strategy of focusing on raw church attendance/membership as opposed to maximizing discipleship for those who are in church already is most ideal, if all it's going to do is bring in more mostly nominal believers. The model might work in a country where the majority of people did not already self-identify as Christian.

Cow Poke
04-24-2014, 08:30 AM
And churches with their own buildings generally get around this by adding additional service times, if they are fortunate enough to even have this problem. :shrug:

We have a Junior High School right across the street, so when we anticipate lots of people, we ask our regulars to park across the street and walk to Church, and it always works out great.

Cow Poke
04-24-2014, 08:36 AM
Eh, some good, lots wrong with that column. An example, more or less at random:

The column opines that church buildings are bad because the have the problem of real estate; if everyone in the congregation invited a friend, and all the invitees came, there'd be no place for everyone to park. Never mind, for a moment, the sheer improbability of that happening. This is different from a house church. . . how exactly?

And in some communities, there are actually zoning laws AGAINST house churches (http://www.hccentral.com/gallagher/part2.html)due to parking problems, or whatever.

Courts have generally found that, even apart from the siting of religious buildings, zoning laws can be used to regulate religious activities in existing facilities that were built for non-religious purposes.41 These courts have decided in many cases that zoning ordinances place a minimal burden on the congregations and the ordinances have a reasonable or important governmental interest.

Thoughtful Monk
04-24-2014, 03:39 PM
Two reasons: 1) The searcher is not trying hard enough or just had not thought of house churches. 2) The church is not "advertising." Yellow pages, for one thing. A website. An outreach program.

I have thought about a house church. Don't know of any.

I think a house church would tend to advertise by word of mouth. If you're like me and have a limited social circle, that word of mouth probably isn't going to reach me. For example at work I know only one person who is probably a Christian. Extended family either doesn't go or is RCC which is a non-starter with my wife.

Cow Poke
04-24-2014, 03:58 PM
I have thought about a house church. Don't know of any.

I think, particularly in the States, house churches tend to be started up by people who were disaffected by a local "regular" church. I have had a lot of contact with house churches in my Church Consultant days, and that seemed to be the case. Often, it was almost a "us four and no more" mentality, not WANTING to grow, necessarily.

On the other hand, I know of Churches that have SPECIFICALLY started house churches in communities (often newly popped up communities) where there is not yet an evangelical Church)

One of the house church groups I was consulting for/with heard my schpiel about "growing", and one of them asked me, quite seriously, "Well, Pastor CP, whoever told you we WANTED to grow?"

Thoughtful Monk
04-24-2014, 04:08 PM
I think, particularly in the States, house churches tend to be started up by people who were disaffected by a local "regular" church. I have had a lot of contact with house churches in my Church Consultant days, and that seemed to be the case. Often, it was almost a "us four and no more" mentality, not WANTING to grow, necessarily.

On the other hand, I know of Churches that have SPECIFICALLY started house churches in communities (often newly popped up communities) where there is not yet an evangelical Church)

One of the house church groups I was consulting for/with heard my schpiel about "growing", and one of them asked me, quite seriously, "Well, Pastor CP, whoever told you we WANTED to grow?"

That since that today house churches would be started by the disaffected. It is still safe to do church so there is no need to band together for mutual support. Now I think in 10 years it may be a house church model because of persecution on the church. I've thought doing a serious study of how the Chinese church functions today would be good prep for what is coming.

Cow Poke
04-24-2014, 04:19 PM
That since that today house churches would be started by the disaffected. It is still safe to do church so there is no need to band together for mutual support.

Mossy can share her own story, but her family was "disaffected" from her Church -- tried and tried to stay, but came to a point where that just wasn't possible --- you can't worship somewhere where you're not at peace. And there aren't good options around, so I can certainly understand doing "house church" rather than just "giving up".


Now I think in 10 years it may be a house church model because of persecution on the church. I've thought doing a serious study of how the Chinese church functions today would be good prep for what is coming.

I don't think persecution in the US will be of sufficient nature to affect our mainline Churches for the forseeable future. I see our mainline Churches becoming less effective and more... um... complacent.

mossrose
04-24-2014, 04:33 PM
Mossy can share her own story, but her family was "disaffected" from her Church -- tried and tried to stay, but came to a point where that just wasn't possible --- you can't worship somewhere where you're not at peace. And there aren't good options around, so I can certainly understand doing "house church" rather than just "giving up".

Yup.

Thoughtful Monk
04-24-2014, 05:01 PM
Mossy can share her own story, but her family was "disaffected" from her Church -- tried and tried to stay, but came to a point where that just wasn't possible --- you can't worship somewhere where you're not at peace. And there aren't good options around, so I can certainly understand doing "house church" rather than just "giving up".

I remember some of mossrose's story from old TWeb.



I don't think persecution in the US will be of sufficient nature to affect our mainline Churches for the forseeable future. I see our mainline Churches becoming less effective and more... um... complacent.

The mainlines won't be persecuted because you won't be able to tell their position apart from society's. They may be the ones Jesus was referring to when He talked about persecutors will think they are serving God.

It seem to me an increasingly influential part of the county sees no difference between the stand of Westboro and a conservative church. (For the record, I get the difference.) The persecution will probably starting in the Northeast and the coasts and moving towards the center. I suspect given my local it will hit me sooner. After all I live in the state where the governor has said that the pro-life people don't place in the state.

I don't know if they will be foolish enough to actually enter the Republic of Texas.

Cow Poke
04-24-2014, 05:26 PM
The mainlines won't be persecuted because you won't be able to tell their position apart from society's. They may be the ones Jesus was referring to when He talked about persecutors will think they are serving God.

It seem to me an increasingly influential part of the county sees no difference between the stand of Westboro and a conservative church. (For the record, I get the difference.)

I have a hard time believing that the greater majority of people don't understand that Westboro was extremist.


The persecution will probably starting in the Northeast and the coasts and moving towards the center. I suspect given my local it will hit me sooner. After all I live in the state where the governor has said that the pro-life people don't place in the state.

Interesting. I have to admit I have a rather "Texas" perspective on it, and we're still allowed to pray at high school football games, graduations, and school flag poles. :smile:


I don't know if they will be foolish enough to actually enter the Republic of Texas.

It may take some time!

Truthseeker
04-24-2014, 07:48 PM
. . . pray at high school football games, graduations, and school flag poles.School flag poles? :huh:

Cow Poke
04-25-2014, 06:25 AM
School flag poles? :huh:

National Day of Prayer (http://nationaldayofprayer.org/) -- "See You At The Pole (http://nationalprayercommittee.com/events_items/2013-see-you-at-the-pole/)" -- maybe a regional thing? Folks from the community gather at the flag pole at the local school to have a prayer service. :shrug:

I just kinda threw that in there. :smile:

KingsGambit
04-25-2014, 06:29 AM
The flag pole thing is done here in the Midwest too.

Cow Poke
04-25-2014, 06:41 AM
The flag pole thing is done here in the Midwest too.

OK, I was pretty sure it was a national effort. :shrug:

mossrose
04-25-2014, 08:13 AM
OK, I was pretty sure it was a national effort. :shrug:

Used to do that here, too.

Until it became wrong to do so.

Even though some schools in Ontario are emptied out at noon for the Muslim students to have prayer in the cafeteria.

Dear Lord, please come soon.

Truthseeker
04-25-2014, 08:46 AM
Sneak veneration of the flag? Insidious? I could understand a national day for prayer in churches and synagogues, but flag poles!?

mossrose
04-25-2014, 08:49 AM
It was a place for students to gather outside of the school building.

Cow Poke
04-25-2014, 09:39 AM
Sneak veneration of the flag? Insidious? I could understand a national day for prayer in churches and synagogues, but flag poles!?

Not sure if you're being facetious or not... it was a gathering place, and as long as it was "student led", it was OK for people to gather at the flag pole for prayer. The flag pole was simply an easy "reference point", because every school has one. :shrug:

Catholicity
04-26-2014, 06:44 PM
National Day of Prayer (http://nationaldayofprayer.org/) -- "See You At The Pole (http://nationalprayercommittee.com/events_items/2013-see-you-at-the-pole/)" -- maybe a regional thing? Folks from the community gather at the flag pole at the local school to have a prayer service. :shrug:

I just kinda threw that in there. :smile:
They did the See you At the Pole at all the Schools in NC too. News used to report on it. I did it when I was in Public School.

Jedidiah
04-26-2014, 11:08 PM
Even in Alaska it is done. I was never in school in Alaska however.

Thoughtful Monk
04-27-2014, 09:50 AM
I have a hard time believing that the greater majority of people don't understand that Westboro was extremist.

I try to spend sometime reading on-line articles about Christian events from non-Christian sources and then read the comments. The vitriol thrown at Christians as being the source of all evil is eye opening. Maybe the great majority understand but there is an increasingly vocal minority that does. And the US is increasingly becoming a country where the minority enforces their rules on the majority.


Interesting. I have to admit I have a rather "Texas" perspective on it, and we're still allowed to pray at high school football games, graduations, and school flag poles. :smile:

It may take some time!

Awhile back I read the book Citizens about the French Revolution. One of my take away from the book was your physical location made a difference on how the revolution affected you. I feel I am living very close to ground zero when it starts.

As an aside, the flag pole is still done (somewhat) up here. I did it one year at work.

Truthseeker
04-27-2014, 12:30 PM
"Virtual"? "Vitriol," perhaps.