Friday, March 4, 2011

House Church - Challenges (Part 2)

A couple of days ago I posted about some challenges that house churches face. While these specific challenges to not apply only to house churches, they are certainly possible difficulties that those in house church life must deal with. I discussed five challenges in the previous post. Below are five more:

6. Isolationism.  It is easy to become part of a house church fellowship and sort of leave the rest of the broader church behind.  This tendency may come from the joy of leaving behind man-made structures and traditions in exchange for more authentic, simple church life.  Whatever the reason, if any church body begins to isolate itself from the church as a whole, this is not healthy.

In order to combat this, we must remember that the church is one. While we may gather in local bodies, Christ's church is a whole. Therefore, we must not isolate ourselves from other Christians. We need to avoid thinking that because the way we function as the church is different that we should then refrain from fellowship with other believers. Instead, we should seek out ways to engage with other Christians both in church gatherings and out in the marketplace.

7. Unity.  This is closely related to number six. In striving against isolationism, we must work for the unity of the body. This of course applies to local bodies, but I'm referring more to the entire church. For example, as in most other cities, Savannah has churches of every denomination, style, tradition, etc. Instead of dividing over our differences, we have a responsibility to unite in who brings us together: Jesus Christ.

As others in the blog-o-sphere have recently pointed out, in order for real unity to occur, we will probably have to go to other Christians and engage with them in ways that are comfortable for them.

8. World Missions. House churches do not generally have a direct connection of any kind with missions-sending agencies. Because of this, it is easy to feel separated from what is going on overseas. This feeling, however, is no justification for not getting involved in what God is doing around the globe.

This requires effort on the part of the house church.  Those in house fellowships will probably, at least in the beginning, have to look for people who are serving as missionaries overseas.  Once relationships are built, then the house church can support these folks in prayer, direct financial support, short-term trips, etc.

Isolation simply cannot be an option.

9. Giving. Within the house church there is no need to "pass the plate." While this is refreshing, it can lead to little giving going on. This is not healthy or good. As with world missions, those in the house church need to be proactive in looking for ways to give to those in need. It may be obvious - such as when someone in the church family has a significant need. However, it may not be obvious - such as who has needs out in the broader neighborhood.

We must not only be ready to give, but also look for opportunities. If we will pray about this, I have no doubt that God will quickly open our eyes.

10. Tradition of Anti-Tradition. Lastly, the house church can fall into a trap if it takes on a tradition of anti-tradition. When this happens, the house church begins to do things simply because they are opposite of what happens in the institutional church. This is not a biblical practice; it is simply reactionary.

Those in the house church should instead look at what aspects of the institutional church are biblical and adopt these. Whatever is not biblical should, of course, be jettisoned. The key is to listen to the Holy Spirit speak through the scriptures as our authority.

If we have a tradition, it should be to ask, "What does the bible say about that?"

4 comments:

Jeffrey said...

One challenge that I haven't experienced is having a rotten time hanging out with God's people over a good meal. It just always seems to be a great time.

Jeff

Eric said...

Jeff,

I agree. I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Paul said...

Eric,

Thank you for these two thought provoking posts. Our family is working through a very difficult experience with a house church. Almost every one of the challenges are being lived out in the group. It has led to some very hurtful things. Your posts are helping me to wrap my mind around the problems we are facing. I am hopeful that God will bring about redemption for all the harm that has been done.

Eric said...

Paul,

I'm glad these posts have been somewhat helpful. It has been good for me to think through these issues and put them down on (electronic) paper.

I'm sorry that you have gone through some tough times. House church life can certainly be difficult because it is very real. I hope you all are able to work and grow through it.

God bless!