I just finished reading Wolfgang Simson’s new book entitled, “The House Church Book.” Right from the start is does a great job in pointing out what is wrong with our modern congregational church model that was established in the later part of the 3rd century. He defines the congregational system as, “plot plus building plus pastor plus salary plus programs.” Which in a nutshell does describe the modern church of today.
If you are looking for a “How To” book on establishing your own House Church this is not the book and Simson is the first to tell you that. He does a great job in telling of the history of the church and how we have moved away from the first church in the Book of Acts. Before we were known as Christians we were know as, “The Way.” It was living the way Christ had instructed us. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands paved the way for us with their very lives. Today would we be so willing?
The author spends much time comparing the differences between cell groups and house churches. While cell groups are part of a larger congregation house churches are fully independent and operate without a hierarchy. It is this lack of hierarchy that confuses such as me who knows nothing different than the established congregational church model.
Here in the South when you mention House Church we think foreign missionaries getting together in a home to avoid persecution from an anti-Christian government. Has America become any different? Surveys show that people in the USA are interested in God but not church. House church as Wolfgang shows is a growing outreach truly based on Christ’s teachings the church going out to the people instead of the people coming to the church.
The author points out that when a house church reaches 20 members it is time to establish a second house church and so on. Unlike the congregational church model that focuses on ever expanding its flock. House Church is a lateral expansion as we see in the Book of Acts. Planting of churches within the communities. Working and serving those communities in a way today’s modern church cannot or has forgotten how too.
Can someone like me establish a house church? One who has been brought up in the modern congregational church model? The author points out that would be difficult since there is no established hierarchy within a House Church. In other words a regular church member might have too much baggage with them for such a ministry. Yet House Church does not always mean in one’s house. Church can be in an office, restaurant or meeting hall. Is there a difference between a bible study group and House Church? Yes, and the author does go into great detail about it.
Being established in the congregational church model and a recent graduate of seminary I had my predispositions before reading this book. It was hard during the first few chapters but I highly recommend reading this book. It does not take a lot of head scratching to realize the congregational church model is broken. Fewer souls are being won for Christ and it appears the evil one has the upper hand. House Church is a growing movement around the world and here in America. There might be a house church in your neighborhood and you do not even know it. House Churches run below the radar same as in foreign missionary work. Focusing on Christ and engaged in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark 16:15 (NLT)