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WASHINGTON - After Sunday dinner at Joe Rodgers' Rockville, Md., home, guests adjourn to the living room for church.
In his makeshift chapel, wooden kitchen stools and a floral print couch act as pews, a portable keyboard substitutes for an organ and the host, an electronics technician by day, serves as pastor.
But just as there is no formal name or dress code for this church, there is no sermon or pastor-led prayer. When it came time to bow their heads on a recent May evening, each of the 10 adults in attendance had something to contribute: One man prayed for success with his new fitness program; another sought guidance as he prepared for his upcoming marriage.
The worshipers have different faith backgrounds, including evangelical, Episcopalian and Catholic. What they share is a dissatisfaction with traditional church services.
The one man ministry as it exist in denominational Christianity is foreign to the Bible and is an insult to the Holy Spirit to move on and use whom He will in worship. ministry or prayer. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. All the gifts given by God to the Church for edification do not reside in one man. Such a man usurps the place which belongs to the Holy Spirit.
To make a long story short our smaller sized traditional church split (on purpose) into 3 home church fellowships...each lead by an Elder. The Pastor, being one of the Elders, hosts a web cast every Sunday...the two other households can see the webcast live on monitors. He is teaching a series called "What is the church" ... you can watch at 11:00 am Pac. Time on Sermonaudio Live Webcasts every Sun. Each home church has their own time of worship and prayer and shares a common meal after the meeting. Also, once a week we host a Bible Study open to the community in a rented building in our city. It has worked out very well so far. We periodically have picnics etc. to bring the whole group together for fellowship. Everyone seems to really appreciate the direction we've taken and it seems to be profitable.
Peter, your response really saddens me. In your mind, if you are part of a house church, you have to be in one of those two camps. Unfortunately, there are many in the institutional churches that see it the same way. But the spirit in your comment shows a real dislike for anyone being the church outside of today's church walls. I am so sorry you feel that way.
Many today see the institutional church as being the only Biblical church, as you said. But God is using millions of believers in the house church movement to take the Gospel to many that the institutional church will never even attempt to reach. And millions of believers attending house churches are growing in their faith and experiencing a level of relational body-life they could never find in the institutional churches.
You don't have to embrace house church, but don't be so hateful toward it.
Mark: When you quote "Likewise greet the church that is in their house" do you mean
Likewise greet the [starting, young]church [that has not grown enough to have elders and deacons and submit to their biblical authority; but is willing to do so] that is in their house
Or do you mean Likewise greet the [rebellious]church [that is too pompous to put themselves under the authority of others and do not really want to start a biblical church, but would rather hide in their ear-tickling cacoon and just "play" church] that is in their house
excellent. Oh, yes, we have other pastors preach at IHCC. We're going to have an excellent one this Sunday, Dwight Oswald of a Council Bluffs Church. You can read an article of his about Regenerative Baptism at, http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/luther/martin.htm comes at least once a year to preach, (you can listen to him over the Internet by connecting to www.ihcc.org this Sunday)
Gil takes two months off in the summer and we get different preachers during this time and also we get special guest preachers throughout the year, we had John Whitcomb at IHCC not too long ago.
But no doubt about it, Gil Rugh is the head pastor at the Hills.
The other way this headline could have been written is... "Christians Moving Away From Mainstream Churches."
It's no big surprise that solid evangelical Christians are getting sick of the pulpit/church offerings emerging to insult their intelligence today.
I met an old retired GP, he'd been in the C of S for 60 years and his parents in that same church before him. He also had ended up as an Elder with the Kirk. But after a succession of three liberal ministers he couldn't take it any longer and left.
He and a group of other disaffected Christians came together, house churched for a while, eventually called their own Minister and are much happier now. Praise the Lord.
So it's happening all over. Many of us know how it feels.
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spot on Neil; the unbiblical one-pastor system so common today has spawned a Holy Spirit led desire in many to return to the NT biblical model.
But as others have pointed out it is however equally possible for a house church to spiritually deviate as much or further than an institutional one.
It depends upon the motive. If one joins or starts a house church because the local institutional church is clearly acting unbiblically and they desire to honour Christ and to walk according to the light of God's word that is to be commended.
But if one joins or starts a house church simply to do their own thing and have worship according to their personal taste - when and how and with who it suits them without anyone disagreeing with them - then it is always a spiritually downward path.
I agree, but what should one do when no church in town has such worship? Even the "traditional" worship of most churches today would have been repulsive to their founders (for evidence, compare Amish, Primitive Baptist, or Covenantar Presby churches with their more up-to-date sisters). Surely house churches can't do much worse.