Why house churches?

We will discuss here the rationale for house churches; that is, what we believe the Holy Spirit is underscoring in these last days before the return of Jesus. The book of Ephesians makes it clear that Godís highest purpose has to do with the Church, the Body of people who are called to be the Bride of Christ. Ephesians 1: 3-5 declares the calling and destiny of the Church, and Ephesians 1: 22, 23 declares the Churchís identification with her exalted Lord, to the extent that the Church is "the fullness of Him who fills all in all." And finally, Ephesians 4: 11-16 describes the means and the process by which the Church is brought to maturity, "till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (v. 13)."

Unfortunately, many sincere believers become so enamored with the so-called five-fold ministry outlined in verse 11, that they fail to grasp the crucial importance of verses 15 through 17. How shall the Body "grow up in all things into Him who is the head ...?" We "grow up ... into Him" as "the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies," builds itself up in love, "according to the effective working by which every part does its share."

A local church which fails to effectively provide for the expression of those gifts which are resident in every believer has simply failed to understand basic New Testament teaching about the life of the Body. A participative model for church gatherings is explicitly taught in I Corinthians 12-14 and implicitly taught in Romans 12. Paul exhorts in I Cor. 12:7 that "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all..." and in I Cor. 14:31 that "you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and that all may be encouraged."This reciprocity of ministry applies not only to the exercise of spiritual gifts but also to the expression of love and patience, as we "bear with one another (Colossians 3: 12-14)." It is hard to imagine how Paul could have written these exhortations to churches that did not have a very fluid and participative style of meeting.

Increasing numbers of believers worldwide are coming to the realization that the scores of New Testament exhortations to minister to "one another" can best be practiced in a house church format. There is no set of universally-agreed upon standards for house churches. However, decades of experience have resulted in some fundamental principles that are endorsed by many who have written about the house church model..

As a small family of house churches, we have embraced many of these principles, primarily because we believe them to be Biblical. In the accompanying pages, we will attempt to briefly summarize some of those principles which we endorse, and indicate how their implementation works out in our network.

What's a house church?

 
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