05 November 2005

The house church phenomenon (SQ)

Why do I call it a phenomenon? Because at heart I'm still a scientist (once a scientist, always a scientist) and every scientist knows that a phenomenon isn't something particularly amazing, it's just something that has happened and cries out to be analysed.

For some weeks now I've been reading about the Barna Report on house church meetings in the USA. There's been quite a lot of comment about it in the press, some of you may have noticed. (The Barna Organisation researches and reports on aspects of the church in America.)

One particular story in today's 'Daily News Record' made me think, it's called 'The Real Revolution Will Not Be Televised'. Considering how the institutional churches might respond, Luanne Austin suggests they should set up small meetings and market them in the same way companies target particular segments of the public. She writes...

You’re a Revolutionary. Real encounters with God just don’t happen on Sunday morning. They come from genuinely seeking and seeing God, every day of the week, in every action, interaction and transaction. You’ve never settled for the norm, the status quo. Trust that still small voice inside you. Look for God all around you, starting with one of our Tuesday night house gatherings.

Just remember, Jesus did say that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there. What other resource does anyone need?

Well, yes, I agree - mostly. But can we 'trust the still, small voice' one moment and decide to 'start with one of [their] Tuesday night house gatherings' the next? I don't think so! It might be the right thing to do or it might not, but I need to let the still, small voice tell me.

The institutional church is going to muscle in on the house church. (If we can't beat them, let's take them over!) Fortunately it doesn't work that way. All over the world, not just in the USA, Father's people are meeting in small groups as and where the Holy Spirit leads them. These people realise that there's only one Leader to follow, only one Shepherd, and only one Church. Most of them will not be deflected or swallowed up. The people I worry about most are those already in larger organisations who may be drawn into yet another subtle counterfeit. Just the fact a garment has the right logo doesn't prove it's genuine, especially if it comes at a bargain price. Caveat emptor.

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