Over this past weekend, Don Love, international worker from Japan, spoke at our church. One of the discussion points we had with him after the formal services was regarding house churches.
In Japan affording a”facility” is pretty well out of reach for most people. A church building to accommodate 20 people can be in the millions (or at least into the million mark). For that reason, church (the people) have to do without church (the building). Small groups of people create church that is not related to a building. The idea of a house church is to break forth into a community with the good news of Jesus, without feeling burdened by debt, worry and depression related to finances.
The problem of transfer of the term “house church” to North America is one of context. Here a house church is more a “break away” style than a “break forth” style. People join house churches to form their “own thing.” They become isolationist – feeling that their way is the only way. We have one example of a building in the same block as our rather larger church building. Twice in the past few years our town administration has asked us who owns the building. All they have is a box number – and they would like to put a face to the inhabitants of the building.
We don’t know! Other churches in town don’t know. Some people have been seen there, but we don’t know who they are. When a house church becomes such that there is no community involvement, I really wonder if they are a church as Jesus intended. Going into the whole world should mean at least those on the same block know who you are!
I like break forth churches, but not so much break away churches!