Skip to comments.A major announcement about house churches (The fastest growing Movement in Christianity)
Posted on 06/27/2006 9:56:30 AM PDT by SirLinksalot
A major announcement about house churches
-------------------------------------------------------- Posted: June 27, 2006 1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
The little guy is back. For the first time in 1,700 years, simple churches meeting in homes are once again a factor in human events.
In many countries, they're booming so strongly that critics and opponents can no longer brush them aside as a fringe movement. And as I documented repeatedly in "Megashift," home churches are producing millions of proactive Christians who now and then perform miracles (though the credit ultimately belongs to God, of course).
But this week, even I was shocked to discover how big our house church community in North America really is. Briefly stated, we're right about halfway between the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention (which is the second-largest denomination in the U.S.).
OK now, let's inhale. I'm stunned, too. This really is starting to alter the landscape for all of us.
Let me state up front: These are solid numbers. George Barna, the leading U.S. church pollster and perhaps the most widely quoted Christian leader in America, is the author of the figures below. They are based on a full-on, four-month scientific survey of 5,013 adults, including 663 blacks, 631 hispanics, 676 liberals and 1,608 conservatives.
Nobody argues with numbers from The Barna Group. They employ all the professional safeguards to ensure tight results in this case, a sampling error of +/-1.8 percent. Here are the results stated in five ways:
In a typical week, 9 percent of U.S. adults attend a house church.
In absolute numbers, that 9 percent equals roughly 20 million people.
In a typical month, about 43 million U.S. adults attend a house church.
All told, 70 million U.S. adults have at least experimented with participation in a house church.
Focusing only on those who attend some kind of church (which I recall is about 43 percent of us), 74 percent of them attend only a traditional church, 19 percent attend both a traditional and a house church, and 5 percent are hard-core house church folks. The study counted only attendance at house churches, not small groups ("cells") that are part of a traditional church.
George Barna is the author of the new best seller, "Revolution," which talks a lot about the kind of person who is leaving the fold of the institutional church and joining things like house churches. Revolutionaries are highly dedicated to Christ and know the Bible better than most. Barna predicts that within 20 years, Revolutionaries will comprise 65-70 percent of U.S. Christianity, leaving in the traditional setting only 30-35 percent (primarily the white-haired crowd).
Please don't think of the house church as a new fad. For the first 300 years of Christianity, house churches were the norm. In fact, church buildings were quite rare until the fourth century, when the power-hungry Roman Emperor Constantine suddenly outlawed house church meetings, began erecting church buildings with Roman tax money, and issued a decree that all should join his Catholic Church. If you want to stick to a biblical model, the house church is your only choice.
In China, the world's largest church (120 million) is 90 percent based in homes. The cover story in this week's World magazine (June 24) is on how Christian business leaders in China are beginning to change the whole situation in that country. Yes, even while Christians in many provinces are hunted down and tortured, CEOs of corporations in areas with freedom are changing the way government looks at Christianity. That is major.
Bottom line: Worldwide, the original church is back, re-creating the biblical model: "Day after day, they met by common consent in the Temple Courts and broke bread from house to house." (Acts 2:46) God is again pouring out His power on plain folks, bringing a megashift not in our doctrine, but in our entire lifestyle.
House churches in North America are no longer seen as being in conflict with the traditional church. In fact, much to our amazement, noted leaders like Rick Warren have recently come out strongly in favor of house churches. Saddleback Church is even sending out their own members as "missionaries" to start house church networks! And just last week, John Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship asked me, as a house church spokesman, to speak at his big annual conference. Unheard of.
Of course, many Christians will prefer to stay in their traditional roles, and that's OK. But now there is a strong alternative for ambitious souls who are crying out to do more, to have more, to be more.
James Rutz is chairman of Megashift Ministries and founder-chairman of Open Church Ministries. He is the author of "MEGASHIFT: Igniting Spiritual Power," and, most recently, "The Meaning of Life." If you'd rather order by phone, call WND's toll-free customer service line at 1-800-4WND-COM (1-800-496-3266).
Slight correction: there is also "backlash" from churches who are abandoning "Traditional" religion to fall into the fad of the week contemporary movement. Traditionalists are being forced from churches in large numbers now, because they refuse to follow the slick marketing of megachurch psychobabble.
I switched to a non-denominational church a few years back because the Pastor teaches from the Bible and uses it as the standard instead of letting the decline of society serve as an "interpretation aid".
"Focusing only on those who attend some kind of church (which I recall is about 43 percent of us), 74 percent of them attend only a traditional church, 19 percent attend both a traditional and a house church, and 5 percent are hard-core house church folks."
Define "house church." If it is truly akin to the first-century Christians, whose "house church" ceremonies were quite elaborate and included the Lord's Supper, fasting beforehand, scripture, and a homily/sermon, led by an ordained pastor/presbyter, I'm impressed.
If they are simply referring to Christian faith-sharing groups, I'm not at all. People have been meeting to discuss their faith and pray together since this country was born, and the fact that 9% of Americans now like to think of this form of gathering as "house churches" is completely meaningless. Given that 4 our of 5 "house church" attendees also attend weekly church services, this seems to be what they are talking about.
Any further information about how "house church" is defined would be greatly appreciated.
I like a writer who can make his point with subtlety.
>> House Churches are tapping into an "organized religion" backlash that has left many people feeling abandoned by "traditional" religion. <<
Apparently not. 4 out of 5 House Church attendees also attend a regular-Church weekly service. It seems like what is really happening is a little extra strengthening on a smaller scale. Anyone know if "House Church" is anything more than simply Cursillo-, Renew-, Crysallis-, Emmaus-, or Alpha-style meetings?
These numbers make no sense.
If 70 million adults in the US have participated in "house church" religion, the term would be widespread and widely understood.
I wish all people seeking to know Jesus better and lead others to Him well. But hyping the popularity of this idea is not that helpful.
... I meant 19 percent, but given that only half of Americans belong to a church, 9 percent is probably closer to an accurate portion of Americans overall.
These stats strike me as sort of meaningless. They seemto be the equivalent of counting as Catholics any person who has ever attended Mass.
Interesting that all the reasons that have been given are negative. Let me give one that is positive:
Many people are being called to lead and cannot do so in their own church, so they begin a new one.
I see this all the time in my area and it is quite a positive thing.
And for those who think these house churches are just faith groups, many Christians attend two churches.
The article specifically states that it is not including small groups (cells within a church). So while I see your point, I would say that the author would differ in opinion.
This article is an inappropriate PR hype.
"Join the future or get left behind with the gray haired curmudgeons. Be there or be square."
The abandonment of some churches of Traditionalism isn't necessarily an abandonment of doctrine. Many communities are now void of Traditional churches entirely within a given denomination. Those who want to maintain Traditional worship are forced to drive long distances, or begin holding services in their own homes. This is becoming more common than you might think. You can thank the "Purpose Driven Church" for this phonomenon in my area.
>> In fact, church buildings were quite rare until the fourth century, when the power-hungry Roman Emperor Constantine suddenly outlawed house church meetings, began erecting church buildings with Roman tax money, and issued a decree that all should join his Catholic Church. If you want to stick to a biblical model, the house church is your only choice. <<
Constantine did authorize the construction of church buildings. The notion that he "outlawed" house churches seems very strange and almost silly: "House churches" existed precisely Christianity itself was illegal prior to Christianity; they were a form of staying hidden from the Roman police. Anyone know anything to support this, or is this more of the Constantine-did-everything-evil mythos from the likes of Dan Brown?
Is it really helpful for those who don't feel they fit in to start their own church?
Of course it is the Protestant ideal: break away if the reform you think is needed does not happen exactly when and how you think it should.
But how does splintering off help the universal Church?
Love the tagline.
>If they are referring to Christian faith-sharing groups, I am not at all.<
I attend a fast growing Pentacostal Church (having been sorely disappointed in the antics of the Episcopal Church long ago) and our Pastor sticks purely to Biblical teachings. We also have house churches which meet once a week in small groups to discuss the prior Sunday's sermon and how it applies to each of our lives, our own concepts of it, prayer, worship and a short social time with refreshments afterward. We find this time very fulfilling, and an important part of our week.
I was a house church leader for 6 years. It was one of several community groups which met once a week. Our church was 25 miles away and we all attended that church on Sundays, but 8 of us who lived near each other got together every Wed. to pray for each other and support each other's Christian walk, with a little Bible study thrown in. If someone was sick we laid hands on them. We essentially formed a small intimate community within a larger community. It was very effective and fulfilling. Hope that helps'.
Our Pastor believes in the usefulness of apologetics and uses it. We are currently going through a series that explains how the Bible was put together and vetted out as an exercise in understanding the truth and being able to give intelligent answers to folks who might be swayed or confused by things like the DaVinci Code. He also has an awesome one-hour synopsis of Revelations. He makes no bones about Biblical truth and is unapologetic to those who find it sexist, un-PC, etc. The best part is that he is a teacher vs. a preacher and doesn't sermonize, but he does use real life situations to help clarify his teachings.
But what does he mean by saying that it doesn't include "cells within a church," when he also states that the overwhelming majority of house-church members ARE, in fact, active churchgoers within a non-house-church church? Is he excluding only those organized by the church leadership within a given parish? Are Cursillo/Emmaus/Chrysalis groups counted? How about charismatic prayer meetings? Ecumenical praise meetings? Non-parish-based Young Adult prayer meetings?
Does a house church, by definition, include a pastor, minister, or anyone with some formal training? Do they have any rites which set them apart from mere prayer groups? Or have we simply dumbed down the notion of church so far that people are thinking of mere prayer groups as churches?
The very fact that the author claims that only house churches are biblical shows that the author has a fantastic ability to warp facts to his liking; the early Christians convened in houses because they were forbidden by Roman law to purchase church buildings; that is, until "power-mad" Constantine legalized Christianity.
If he's claiming house churches are more biblically authentic, do house-churches have annointed leaders? Presbyters? Episcopi? Do they partake in the Lord's Supper together?
Why does he stick strictly to Bible teachings?
Does he not know that the Bible commends us to take advantage of other treasures the Church offers?
I don't think this would be my cup of tea -- I have always been involved in the traditional church and I like it. But I understand why a lot of people would like this. It isn't always easy to find a good, solid congregation. House churches might even become a significant source of spritual renewal. I'm thinking in terms of early Methodism, which operated across denominations and largely outside of them.
With house churches, I would be concerned about doctrine and accoutability, though, because, even with the best intentions, and with doctrine defined and a structure for accoutability in place, it is quite easy to drift into error and deception.
What got to me about this article was its tone and implication -- that here are a group of "revolutionaries" out to finally reverse the mess made by bad old Constantine. Well, we've heard that one before, and it always smacks of arrogance and a willful disregard for what God has done and continues to do in and through His church (not Constantine's) since the days of the apostles.
From what you say, it sounds like it IS simply a faith-sharing group. I should be clear that those are obviously very important to Christian faith; by saying I was unimpressed, I only meant that I was unimpressed by assertions this was some new phenomenon. Such activities are a wonderful SUPPLEMENT to community churches, but from what I'm hearing, they are not a replacement. Do you find anything I've stated that you disagree with?
I would think that 100% of married Christians who truly adhere to Biblical teachings attend "house-church" every day. After all, in a marriage there are always 2 people. In a Christian marriage they are both believers. And finally, if they are following His teachings they are gathered "in His name." At least that's how it should be. It's what I work towards. Repeat after me: A church is not a building.
Where did you discover exactly what the early members of the Church did and did not do?
Is that info all in the Bible?
If it is not in the Bible but from elsewhere, then why would you deviate from simply ticking to what's in the Bible?
If it is because historians have told us what their traditions were, then do you think it is important to follow tradition?
For those wanting more information on relational Christianity and moving from religious thinking to relational thinking take a look at...
Above URL goes to the Didche!
Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets. Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not. But if he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there's a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.
Pope John Paul II emphasized this idea of the family as church. The "domestic church". He once exhorted all families: "Families, become what you are!" - explaining that the family is the ideally-designed (By God, of course) "community of persons" that can remind us - right where we grow up - of the perfect community of persons, the Holy Trinity. That is what we try to do in my family.
Well, Barna's a pretty darned good pollster, but I'd want to go see the results of this poll on his own site, rather than have it interpreted by someone who seems to have a decided bias.
The home church movement is certainly growing, but this guy seems to count every little bible study group meeting in a home as a home church, and I think that's off the mark.
If you think of the Vineyard Fellowship, you get a little closer to this.
To me, the growth of the home church movement represents the end stage of the denominationalism that has split the church again and again, ever since Martin Luther rebelled against the "evils" of the RCC of his day.
Someone estimated that there were 27,000 separate denominations or groupings of Christianity. I think the number's higher than that and, if you count the home churches, it's way higher than that.
My question is: Is there a center to Christianity any longer? A central doctrine or set of doctrines that all Christians can agree upon? It's beginning to look more and more like that center is not holding any longer.
Will the splintering continue until every person is his or her own church? It's an interesting question, I think. But, I'm an atheist, so what do I know?
Ah, the Didache - Tradition is afforded its rightful place of honor!
just curious...why do you say weak? we are "baby sheep" ourselves (7 months). what disappointed you in the pastors you met?
really i'm just curious, not wanting to start a holy war or anything. tryin to make sure we're not missin somethin.
IMHO there are two primary reasons for the decline in organized, mainstream religions: 1. Many Christian religions have embraced the influence of the PC crowd even to the extent that it is in conflict with scripture--this is a huge issue for people that look to the Bible for guidance and not to the arbitrary leaders of the PC church. 2. The constant assault by the old media and hollywood who view the church as a threat to their power to shape opinions and to compete with their financial gain. It is a control thing from the left, the secular worshipers, and mind controllers.
The center is in Rome.
No other core exists, as none of the 27,000 groups thinks having such a core is necessary.
Peter, you are Rock, and upon this Rock I will build my church!
"But I also know that I need the support of a community of Christians. So I choose to attend and keep my silence on areas where we differ."
Never be silent. This allows the PC crowd to win.
My center is Jesus. Not Peter. Not Rome. Not the Pope. Not anything of this world.
>> What ever gave you the idea of early Christians having ceremonies, ordained pastors, sermons, etc.? <<
The Lord's Supper is described in the bible. It is a ceremony. Those who led it were "presbyters" (presiders), who were appointed by "episcopi" (bishops), who were, in turn, appointed by the apostles.
The first-century work, "The Teaching of the Twelve," also simply known as "The Didache" (which is Greek for Twelve, and is pronounced DID-uh-kee) describes in considerable detail the conduct of house church meetings. There is no record of any church father criticizing the work by name. It was probably left out of the bible only because it was for ecclesiastic administration by pastors, not public worship. It's only conflict with the bible is that it cautions not to pay prophets, whereas Paul says to do so, but this conflict is likely referring to a different circumstance than Paul meant; Paul referred to ordained, traveling preachers raising funds for other communities, whereas the Didache seems to be referring to unordained members of the local community.
Incidentally, the Didache contains the Lord's prayer, followed by (or including) the prayer, "For Thine is the power and the glory," nine centuries before this was included in any publication of the bible.
I would tend to agree with your assessment.
There is still a core doctrine of beliefs, we just have a lot of heresy to deal with too. Don't worry, God will protect His church. Right now it seems that he is reorganizing things.
I have no particular statement on house churches one way or the other. The building you meet in is not a significant issue. However, I would question the doctrines of some of these groups. That matters.
Barna may not even be a very good pollster, at all. He is respected among Protestant Christians primarily because is the only pollster to specialize in Christianity, and because he uses extremely charged, Protestant-sectarian definitions. For instance, he frequently phrases questions in such a manner that few Catholics would ever answer "yes" to, and then uses those questions to establish that those who answer "no" to them deny central teachings of the Catholic faith, such as the infallibility of the bible.
Even when his phrasings are not extremely charged, he gets results which are often wildly, even preposterously different from other pollsters asking very similar questions.
My basic assessment of his polls is that they are the absolute worst of any major pollster as measured by validity (the ability to measure what they intend to measure), accuracy (the ability to obtain the proper measurements for what it is that they actually do measure), and reliability (the ability to be repeated by others so that the others get the same results).