Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meeting in Houses

All of the below bible passages refer to churches meeting together in houses. I wonder why so few of us gather in homes. What are we missing? Why don't we follow this model?

Acts 2:2 - And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Acts 2:46 - So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.

Acts 5:42 - And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 8:3 - As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Acts 12:12 - So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

Acts 16:40 - So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

Acts 20:20 - ...how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house.

Romans 16:5 - Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.

I Corinthians 16:19 - The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

Colossians 4:15 - Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.

Philemon 1:1-2 - Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house...

12 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Eric,

From talking with people and reading widely, I think there are several reasons why so few of us gather in houses. 1) It's not considered "real" unless its in a dedicated church building. 2) We need someone to lead us, so if a pastor is not there then we're in trouble (heresy) or it doesn't "count". 3) People will get to know too much about us. 4) We'll have to get to know (below the surface) the people we meet with. 5) It won't be as easy to fool people that we're not actually living as a disciple of Jesus. 6) We don't know enough about the Bible (or so we think).

There may be other reasons, but I've heard/read all of these.

-Alan

Eric said...

Alan,

It is fascinating that although the biblical model is meeting in houses, most people today would think of this as revolutionary. For many, the idea is just something they have never even thought of.

Of the things you mentioned, I think numbers 3-5 bring fear to a lot of people. When a church meets in a home, there really is no where to hide. People get to know each other whether they want to or not.

You can hide in a congregation of 100. You can't hide in a house church of 10.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

Alan has hit the nail on the head.

Another reason I discovered is that many Christians are so resigned to guilt inducing experiences in the "official" meeting place.

Their homes are a refuge from such threats, which they don't want to introduce into the secure haven of their homes.

Eric said...

John,

Too true.

Homes are such wonderful places for relaxing and encouraging conversations. Why in the world wouldn't we want to meet there?

Arthur Sido said...

Eric,

The very informality and comfort of a house may have something to do with it. We like our church to be formal and religious, it makes us feel like we have done something for God if we go to a building.

Alan Knox said...

Eric,

You said, "Homes are such wonderful places for relaxing and encouraging conversations. Why in the world wouldn't we want to meet there?"

Do people associate the church with "relaxing and encouraging conversations"?

-Alan

Eric said...

Arthur,

I suppose much of this comes back to the lack of biblical understanding for why the church gathers in the first place.

Eric said...

Alan,

Most people absolutely do not think of the gathering as a time of encouragement through reciprocal conversation.

The show has taken place of the conversation.

tmagskjohns said...

Our congregation meets on Sundays in a church building for corporate worship and for small-group classes. We meet again on Wednesdays for classes and/or worship. Nearly everyone is also involved in a small group that meets in a home either weekly or bi-weekly. I can see benefits of both settings, and really enjoy both settings.

Eric said...

Mary,

I'm glad to hear that your church meets in small groups in homes. It seems that more and more churches are doing this. The intimacy of the small group in the home just can't be simulated in the large building.

Jeffrey said...

Hi, My name is Jeff. I do meet with a couple of families in a home, and have been for about 8 years. I'm interested in Alan's comments at the beginning of the list. The the things he mentioned seem scary in the abstract, like sky diving, or becoming a human cannon ball. In my experience, however, when people meet without the restraints of religion, the facades come down quickly, and people readily admit that they are not perfect; that they have strengths and weaknesses, and learn to draw on the gifts of others, while contributing from their areas of gifting...not perfectly, but in increasing measure over time.

We usually gab about our week for a while, pray, and have Bible study, then eat a meal together. I love the bible study, where everyone gets to contribute: Moms, dads, kids. My fear at first was what to do about any heretical views that might come up during the study, but I've learned that it's not my Church. It's not any of the other people's Church either. It's Jesus' Church, and He has proven Himself faithful to run it as He deems fit. What he did was put very like-minded people together at first--kind of like being on training wheels. The areas of disagreement were so small that it seemed easy to learn grace and humility (by that I mean not assuming you are right when a point of disagreement arose, but rather, trying to be a truth seeker). After learning that, He brought a few more people together (both in the group and with other home fellowships in the area) with subtly more "interesting" things to ponder.

Christ died for real people, and seemed to dislike "religious" behavior. He died for sinners and seemed to dislike those that wanted to "have it all together". He taught and seemed to like those that would listen. We talk, we laugh, we get frustrated with one another, we grow.

I don't want to give you the impression that this is the only way to go, or that you're "doing it wrong" if you meet in a big building. My understanding is that little of that matters. Jesus matters; People matter. My experience has been that when Jesus drives, he doesn't like instructions from the back seat. It's been a good trip so far. I'll trust Him for the remainder of the ride.

Blessings,

Jeff

Eric said...

Jeff,

Thank you for your comments. Your gatherings sound exciting and edifying to me. I'm glad to hear how the Lord is working in your church family.