AND THE HOUSE CHURCH
From the Ascension to the Pilgrims
Why did Christ plant His Church in the home?
It is commonly thought that a House Church is a first step in a process toward a monolithic temple or grand meeting hall. You start in a home, move to a store front, then to the Masonic Lodge, eventually you rent the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and finally, you plunge into debt up to your ear lobes and "build a church." This has been the case now for about 100 years, and the present generation of Fundamentalists BELIEVE in this process.
It is also assumed that the House Church is a throw back to oblivion. If one starts a House Church, it will only grow to the walls, and there will be little or nothing to enter in the resume of the fearless leader of the group who plans on bigger and better things by and by. That is precisely correct. Anyone starting a House Church better get used to sending his resume ahead to the judgment of the saint's works and be happy with Jesus' opinion of him. This was the case with thousands of men like Peter, Paul, Waldo, Hus, Count Zinzendorf, Menno Simons, Peter Cartright, David Livingston, and many more.
There are heroes like J. Frank Norris who served God faithfully in large churches. Norris even pastored two big churches at one time, one in Fort Worth, Texas, and the other in Detroit, Michigan. Does his seeming success as a pastor prove that God likes monster churches? NO! It shows that God is merciful to men who do a few dumb things but generally have God honoring zeal, like Jehu and Gideon.
The Lord's Church was planted in the homes of converts, and stayed there until the Pilgrims and Puritans crossed the Atlantic to New England in about 1650. There were monster palaces for the Whore Roman Catholic Church, and Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli never dealt with this. They perpetuated it, and it is the Protestant palace mentality which has taken hold of Fundamentalism today. You Fundamental Baptist pastors think you are not Protestants, but you dwell in Protestant real estate, and you leave your Bible Colleges and Bible Institutes to go forth and build a great hall of the people. Sounds to me more like Chairman Mao than Jesus.
This needs finishing
From the Meeting Hall of New England to the Present Deformity
This needs finishing
Editor: The fool refuses to face the real issue-- his organization could be unregistered and he could say anything he wanted to from his pulpit. But, as a nonprofit organization, he and his buddies have willfully placed their Reconstructionist program under the control of Caesar.
So, a favor's a favor, right? If Caesar is going to help Pope Kennedy take the offering and issue tax exemptions, then Caesar has every right to make the rules. Duh!
I want to end this discussion with two questions. These have been touched on in other areas of the House Church Helps Section of the Journal, but I want to drive this home for all of us here in one spot. You may want to direct any critics of your House Church to meditate here for a while.
We will answer these questions based on the presupposition that Jesus Christ was content to keep the narrow persecuted and Bible believing saints in the homes, shop attics, and weavers' caves for 1700 years. If the House Church was a defective place for the Church to thrive, Jesus sure diddled around for a long time before getting it right and sending us off to great halls of the people. Of course, you must realize I am being very sarcastic in favor of my Lord's zeal and perfection.
Question One: What are the strengths of the House Church?
1. Jesus chose the home to minister almost exclusively during His tenure on this earth. He only taught in the synagogues and temples when He wanted to confront the unconverted. He taught and fellowshipped with His faithful followers exclusively in the homes.
2. The Apostles planted the Church in the homes and never moved to larger facilities.
3. The home is where Jehovah applied the Law in Israel through the father of the home in the Passover, feasts, and teaching of the Law of God.
4. The home is where Jesus spent 30 years growing up before starting His ministry.
5. The home needs no hierarchy added since the father is head of the home and a pastor de facto. This is clearly seen in the Pauline ministry, and Paul NEVER denigrated the father as head of the House Church-- he used that man and named the local church by his name.
6. The home needs no incorporation or registration with Caesar-- Indeed, the home is the opposite of the incorporated temple down town, almost totally transparent to Caesar's greedy eye for control. Witness who Caesar attacks to prove a point of power.
7. The home is a great place to meet in times of persecution.
8. The home is already insured and does not invite liability.
9. The home is much easier to guard against sodomites, witches, and invasion by devils since it is private property and the home owner has the right to refuse entrance to anyone he chooses. The great hall of the people is a public building, even if non-incorporated, and the courts can force wicked men on them.
10. The home is used 7 days a week, so there is no need to heat the great hall of the people for 80% of the time when no one is there. Some climates where winters fall into the sub zero temperatures cause thousands of dollars of God's treasury to be sent up the chimney in heating empty space.
11. The home is a lot more inviting to sinners we are trying to win. Large halls of the people intimidate sinners and are symbols of religion. Evangelism is a lot easier in the House Church.
12. The home does not look like a "church," so it is a lot easier to teach that the Church is the people.
13. Satan does not like homes nearly as much as big temples downtown. This is obvious in history, for ALL of the superstition of the ages in Christendom is found in great halls of the people. Mark it down. You cannot prove otherwise.
14. Homes are more comfortable than great halls of the people. People hang around after meetings and enjoy one another more instead of running for the parking lot. Church dinners are more friendly since the group is smaller.
15. Home Churches don't have to keep schedules and watch the abominable clock like great halls of the people. The very nature of a great mass of people demands tight time keeping and precise choreographing of events. The home delivers the saints of the clock for a day each week.
16. The home needs no PA system, does not invite big band driven worship, obliterates the "worship leader" frenzy, and in general takes the Lord's Church back to the simplicity of a family, which is where the New Testament Church started.
17. You can keep the family together in a House Church instead of sending every family member scurrying off in 5 different directions to never see each other again until 12:30. A House Church is a REAL "church family." It offers "something for every member of the family" that is, the House Church offers to KEEP the family-- a family.
18. Youth in a House Church cannot play the fool by hiding in cars in the parking lot necking or riding in church busses to events where they run loose all over some distant town. Kids in House Churches learn to relate to adults and respect older folks, for they are with them all the time. This makes for a much more mature young person as they mature.
It must be said that many of the above qualities are also present in a local church which is under 25 people, but the lust for numerical growth in a non-home based church will one day wipe out all of the above.
Question Two: What are the strengths of the "Great Hall of the People?"
1. A big church house downtown, with a tall steeple and grand architecture, makes you feel like you belong to a thing of power and success, not just a runt house in the suburbs.
2. You can get in and get out and not be known, thus insuring no one will ever ask you to do anything.
3. You can sin and chase whores six days a week, and you might never get caught.
4. The pastor of this monster can build a great resume, write a book on how to get big, and end up on the conference circuit doing seminars on "How I Dunnit." Very lucrative destiny if done right.
5. All leaders in a great hall of the people are much more famous than the guy across town with the house church.
6. You can invest thousands of dollars of God's treasury on neutered Sunday School material which is mostly thrown away (or unload on the missionary to the Navajo Indians in New Mexico) when it is outdated.
7. You can really make a backslider shape up by threatening to tell all 800 people out there that he dunnit.
8. You have power in the community, and the government will ask your opinion on important things, like, "How many beans does it take to feed an illegal alien?"
9. You will attract many people to the church house just because it is big and impressive. Furthermore; Robert Schuler says this is true. These are of course the last people a Bible believer should want in a gathering of the saints, but it sure looks good in the annual report.
10. You can have your own baptistery and not have to go yonder to the river for baptisms like John the, er... Baptist, and Jesus.
11. You can present a much larger target for fraud to those who like to fall down the stairs and collect insurance. This way, you can magnanimously pay up on the thing at once and have a good testimony among all the crooks in the city-- "What suckers those Baptists are."
12. You cannot have much of a church dinner for the whole "church family," but you can afford to cater in institutional food from number ten cans for smaller groups. Anyone who is not willing to eat overcooked string beans deserves to suffer over there in the House Church across town.
13. Satan will always be attacking you by sending in stealth characters to insinuate themselves into every program and activity of the church. This will make sure you are in spiritual warfare all the time and never have a rest.
14. The great hall of the people can afford to bring in Southern Gospel Quartets, Christian college choirs, high powered evangelists, and even Jack Hyles. This will really draw the crowds and build numbers. People will know that "we are the greatest." The Sword of the Lord said so.