The House-Church concept is
different from modern churches
A house-church is the wonderful
New Testament model for doing church.
Why not have
church at home?
This page explores genuine differences between twenty first century churches and the house-church of the first century. It may be helpful for growing gay Christian congregations to adopt the New Testament model of churches which met in homes yards porches and apartments instead of continuing to duplicate the often impersonal and frequently unscriptural practices of so many post-modern churches. Please don't give up and quit church in despair.
Perhaps now is the time for a return to our spiritual roots, where Christians were authentic, their testimony of faith in Jesus Christ and believing the Bible were genuine and they focused on teaching and learning the scriptures and making disciples who followed Jesus and believed what Jesus believed.
If you cannot find a good Bible preaching evangelistic Jesus loving church where you live, why not start a Bible study in your home or in the meeting room of a local restaurant? A house church is better than dying on the vine or being a Lone Ranger Christian. And certainly it's better than going to a fun and games church where they put on a loud rock concert but where they don't teach you the Bible verse by verse or disciple you to follow Jesus.
- Modern churches meet in a dedicated building, often expensive to buy and maintain.
A New Testament house-church met mostly in homes. Acts 2:46-47; 5:42; 8:3; 12:12; 16:40; 20:7-8; 20:20; Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col.4:15; Philemon 2; 2 Jn 9-11
- New members are sought so that the modern church keeps getting bigger and bigger. Size and growing mega-churches seems to be the goal.
When the number of believers outgrew a home, another house church was formed. Rom. 16:3-5; 14-15; Acts 2:41-47, Romans 16:5, Colossians 4:15
- Modern churches often focus on numerical growth instead of soul-winning evangelism and preaching the glorious gospel of Christ.
House churches in the first century focused on evangelism, telling others about salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8, Acts 5:42 - "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
- The modern church has denominations, many of which do not teach the Bible verse by verse, many of which do not even believe the Bible.
In the New Testament, instead of denominations, there were one or more house-churches in each city, meeting in small groups in homes, to teach the Bible and evangelize their city. Acts 8:1; 11:26; 18:22; Rom 16:1; 1 Cor 1:2; Rev.2:1; Col 4:16; 1 Thess 1:1; Rev 2:12; 3:7; 3:1; 2:8; 2:18
- Modern pastors are usually seminary trained. The people in the congregation often have no real knowledge of their pastor’s personal life or character.
New Testament elders were local people who were trained in the house church. Their life and character were well known. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5
"But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me." - 2 Timothy 3:10-11
- The Sunday worship service is a spectator event where the Pastor and a few leaders or a praise team does most of the ministering.
Sunday worship in house churches was interactive. Each house church member could exercise his/her spiritual gifts in ministry instead of being a spectator. 1Cor 12:4-27; 14:26; Eph 4:15-16; Rom 12:3-8; 1 Pet 4:10-11; Heb 10:23-25; Rom 12:15; 1Cor 12:26
- Sunday church often follows a formal, generally inflexible order of service. In mega-churches, it's often loud rock music and dancing, fake miracles signs and wonders, demonic coercion to give money, a "sermon" which often has little to do with teaching the Bible verse by verse, more loud rock music and a visit to the in house Starbucks or MacDonalds.
Sunday worship in a house-church was informal, scripture focused, flexible and spontaneous in obedience to the Holy Spirit and evangelistic. Acts 20:7-12; 1 Cor 14:26-31
Advantages of a House-Church
- The goal in modern churches is worship or passively listening to a rock band or a sermon or sometimes, evangelism-lite.
The goal of a house-church was mutual edification, prayer and teaching the scriptures in a way that encouraged active evangelism of the lost and spiritual growth as authentic disciples of Jesus. 1 Cor 14:3,4,5,12,17,26; Eph 4:11-12, 16; Heb 10:24-25
- Church is often led by a Pastor or a Board who are accountable to no one in the congregation. Anyone in the congregation who objects to anything is shown the door.
A house-church was led by spiritual Elders, trained in, known by and accountable to the local congregation. Acts 14:23; 20:28; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 4:17; Heb 10:17; James 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-2
- The Pastor is treated as if (s)he is smarter and more spiritual than the other Christians.
In a house-church, a team of spiritual elders taught scripture, led the church, worked to support themselves financially and were accountable to each other and to the local congregation. Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Pet 5:1-2
- The Pastor is paid a salary and benefits and sabbaticals and given a housing allowance and a car allowance and retirement package by the church.
Some elders may have been financially supported by the congregation but many house church elders were self-employed, meaning they worked a job to pay their living expenses. 1 Tim.5:17-18; Acts 20:33-35
- Modern churches have a distinctive clergy/laity class system which divides the church.
First century house churches had almost no clergy/laity distinction. The members together formed a spiritual priesthood, all of them responsible to God. Heb 13:15-16; 1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6
- The Lord’s Supper is observed every service or every Sunday morning or on a fixed schedule, usually with no admonition to get right with God before partaking and it is often open to unsaved people.
The Lord’s Supper was observed as often as each local house-church desired, not necessarily every service and it was not offered to unsaved people. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:18-20, 33
- The Lord’s Supper is observed with a wafer and a dip or a sip of grape juice or wine.
In a house-church, the Lord’s Supper was observed as a meal, with the elements of the Lord's Supper (bread and wine or pure blood of the grape) offered after the meal, to saved people who got right with God before partaking. Acts 2:42, 46; 1 Cor 11:20-21; Jude 12
- The Lord’s Supper is often dull, solemn, almost funeral-like, open to lost and saved alike, sometimes emphasizing a vertical relationship with Christ, if that is mentioned at all.
The Lord’s Supper was observed with joyful hearts by saved participants who first judged their own sins, acknowledging the literal physical absence of the Lord, not His literal physical presence.
The joyful celebration in a house church pointed to the marriage supper of the Lamb and emphasized the believer’s horizontal relationship with other believers. Acts 2:46; Luke 22:15-18,30; 1 Cor 11:26; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 10:16
- A new member must go through membership and instructional
classes before (s)he can be baptized. New members are coerced into signing a covenant which requires them to tithe, to never ask questions, to yield all authority to the leadership so that, if the new member has questions, they can easily be brow-beaten into silence by unspiritual leaders who care nothing for their soul, who care nothing about their spiritual growth in Jesus.
New believers in a house church were baptized by immersion, not by sprinkling, as soon as humanly possible to publicly demonstrate their death to the old pagan life and their joyful resolve to follow Jesus in new life. Acts 2:37-41; 8:12; 8:36-38; 9:17-18; 10:45-48; 16:31-34; 19:5
- Baptism or sprinkling are performed by the clergy.
Baptism in a house church was only by immersion, never by sprinkling and could be performed by any born again Christian. John 4:2; Acts 8:12; 8:36-39; 9:18; 22:16; 1 Cor 1:17
- The congregation must be present when someone is baptized.
The house church congregation was not always present when someone was baptized. Acts 8:12; 8:36-39; 16:31-34
- The preacher delivers (sometimes reads) a monologue sermon with little opportunity for questions afterward and not much input from the congregation except being a money-giving spectator.
Spirit-filled teaching elders in a house church taught the scriptures and took time to answer questions. Teaching and learning scripture and becoming personal evangelists for Jesus were the goals. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 14:29-35
- The modern church spends most of its income to support the pastor and the building.
Since many house church pastors and teaching elders were self-supported and the church met in homes, the money people gave was used to help poor Christians, assist widows and send missionaries to unevangelized areas. First century churches had few administrative expenses. Acts 2:44-45; Gal 6:9-10; 1 Jn 3:17; 1 Tim 5:17-18; 1 Cor 9:6-14; 2 Cor 8:3; Phil 4:15-18; Lk 12:33-34; Eph 4:28; James 1:27
- Believers are urged to tithe, i.e., to give at least 10% of their income to the church, as if they are still under OT Law.
House church believers gave from willing hearts, as God had prospered them. Tithing is not taught as a Christian obligation after the resurrection of Christ because we are not under Old Testament Law, Romans 6:14, 10:4. We live in the age of God's amazing grace which has superseded law. 2 Cor 8:3-4; 9:7
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This page revised January 26, 2017