George Barna, researcher and survey taker in the U.S., says that house churches are the upcoming approach to church in North America.  Today I talked to a friend who is in the midst of starting a house church with around 10 of our friends.

I’ve struggled, as an institutional pastor, to understand this movement.  I don’t dispute that this is happening.  In large part it comes from the push to recognize “the priesthood of all believers.”  Add to that a strong education component in churches that has brought the usual person to a solid understanding of scripture.  Finally, put yourself in a society that is increasingly separating religious folk from secular.

Disgruntled people leave churches.  They start their own.  I wonder what accountability that provides.

Others leave, and will leave, because there are problems with transportation, or child care, or other provisons particular to their situations. They gather with nearby believers.  They may maintain a loose relationship with leadership in a local church.

Others see the need to reach unchurched people.  The “institutional church” is not attractive.  They are amenable to a local church but are “unrelated”.

There is no easy definition of a house church.  I know because I have friends in all of these situations.  For the sake of the universal church, how do we show unity in the midst of diversity?  This is the big quesiton that will arise in this coming decade.  If you have some suggestions, please comment.