Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gotta Get Out of the House

There is a strange assumption among many who plant churches. The assumption is that they must get out of the house.

Most church plants begin in homes. The reason is simple: most church plants are small and therefore need little space. Over time, the hope is that as the church shares the gospel, people will come to Christ as Lord and Savior. This will in most cases cause the church to grow in number.

This is where the strange thing happens. There is an almost automatic and unquestioned assumption that the church must leave the home and get some sort of larger facility. What is implied in this assumption is that the house is not sufficient. The strange part in all this is that the house was sufficient for the church in the New Testament.

Considering the sad state of many churches in the USA, it seems that church planters would want to do something different. Why not try what the bible models for us? Why not remain in the house?

Some might answer this by saying that the church has to move out of the home in order to find a place big enough for all the people. This indicates that the church has not considered meeting in multiple homes. Why not gather in several different homes?

The objection to meeting in several different homes will probably be something like this, "If we meet in different locations, then we will be splitting the church and no one wants to do this." My response to that statement is that meeting in different locations does not automatically mean that you are splitting the church. Why does numerous locations have to mean different churches?

We must always be looking at the assumptions that inform our decision-making. The reality is that church plants would do well to remain in houses. There is a reason for the biblical model.

On a related note, established/traditional churches would be wise to figure out how they can gather in homes at least some of the time. Small groups meeting in houses goes a long way toward at least beginning to follow the biblical model. It also fosters community and spurs discipleship.

So instead of thinking we have to get out of the house, let's figure out how we can either remain in the house or get into the house.


Arthur Sido said...

I heard Al Nohler address the issue of house churches on his radio program and his contention was that house churches were OK as long as they planned to "grow up" in "real churches" (paraphrasing). I think many church plants stray from their mission once they start worrying about buildings and staff.

Eric said...


I've heard the "grow up" argument as well. That seems to be the typical statement by those in denominational leadership positions (and I like Mohler).

lil'Gracie said...

Hey Eric,

I live in Statesboro, Georgia. It's cool to find a passionate Christian so close to home. I have kept up with your blog now for a few days and appreciate your heart for the Gospel and encouraged for your love for the church.

I have a link you have to check out. You may have heard of Jim Elliff. Well he is involved in a home church network. They are very founded in scripture, the Gospel, and missions. I will paste their link below.

Check them out and let me know what you think of their model:

In Christ,
Jonathan Chambers

Eric said...


Thanks for the link. I'll take a look.

I have heard of Jim Elliff, but do not know much at all about him.

Steve said...

Good post.

Our small congregation looks to have Bible studies and fellowship events at our homes now and then.

But we do enjoy gathering in our sanctury in pews, stained glass, and the altar.

We know that we don't have to, but we want to.

We have a wonerful place that looks as though it is set apart for something special.Plus our traditional liturgy acts as an anchor lest we drift into our own personal ideas of how to do all this, and end up as a circus sideshow, instead of a church.

Thanks much!

Eric said...


I think we have much freedom in what we do and where we do it. It sounds like you all are on the right track.