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A major announcement about house churches (The fastest growing Movement in Christianity) ^ | 06/27/2006 | James Rutz

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

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).

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: christians; growth; housechurches
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To: SirLinksalot

>> 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?

21 posted on 06/27/2006 10:27:56 AM PDT by dangus
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To: TexanToTheCore

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?

22 posted on 06/27/2006 10:28:19 AM PDT by Notwithstanding (I love my German shepherd - Benedict XVI reigns!)
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To: Notwithstanding

Love the tagline.

23 posted on 06/27/2006 10:30:55 AM PDT by gunsofaugust (Moral liberals are the most repulsive excrement.)
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To: dangus

>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.

24 posted on 06/27/2006 10:34:02 AM PDT by Paperdoll ( on the cutting edge.)
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To: dangus

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'.

25 posted on 06/27/2006 10:34:53 AM PDT by tinamina
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To: taxcontrol

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.

26 posted on 06/27/2006 10:35:21 AM PDT by trebb ("I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." - Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV))
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To: Notwithstanding
(I love my German shepherd - Benedict XVI reigns!)

I love my Jewish shepherd - Jesus reigns!

27 posted on 06/27/2006 10:35:24 AM PDT by Proverbs 3-5
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To: dangus
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. What ever gave you the idea of early Christians having ceremonies, ordained pastors, sermons, etc.? Luther and company reformed much of the doctrine, but certainly didn't reform the practice of the church. What happened to the priesthood of all believers? We've gone from one pope to many popes (senior pastors). The self chosen few to lead the people. The Lord said, I myself will shepherd my people. We have one Father, and one mediator.
28 posted on 06/27/2006 10:37:58 AM PDT by ktupper
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To: taxcontrol

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?

29 posted on 06/27/2006 10:40:24 AM PDT by dangus
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To: Paperdoll

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?

30 posted on 06/27/2006 10:42:21 AM PDT by Notwithstanding (I love my German shepherd - Benedict XVI reigns!)
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To: HuntsvilleTxVeteran

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.

31 posted on 06/27/2006 10:43:31 AM PDT by Southside_Chicago_Republican (The moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on......)
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To: ktupper
As a Pastor, the "House Church" is basically, a "small Groups" "Growth Group", Bible Study Group". My church is small but we have growth groups, ie. That would comprize of about 50% of Church attenders.
32 posted on 06/27/2006 10:44:11 AM PDT by DocJ69
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To: Paperdoll; tinamina

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?

33 posted on 06/27/2006 10:46:08 AM PDT by dangus
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To: SirLinksalot

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.

34 posted on 06/27/2006 10:46:10 AM PDT by fix
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To: ktupper

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?

35 posted on 06/27/2006 10:46:33 AM PDT by Notwithstanding (I love my German shepherd - Benedict XVI reigns!)
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To: SirLinksalot

For those wanting more information on relational Christianity and moving from religious thinking to relational thinking take a look at...

36 posted on 06/27/2006 10:47:18 AM PDT by ktupper
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To: Southside_Chicago_Republican

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.

37 posted on 06/27/2006 10:49:01 AM PDT by HuntsvilleTxVeteran ("Remember the Alamo, Goliad and WACO, It is Time for a new San Jacinto")
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To: fix

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.

38 posted on 06/27/2006 10:50:35 AM PDT by Notwithstanding (I love my German shepherd - Benedict XVI reigns!)
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To: SirLinksalot

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?

39 posted on 06/27/2006 10:51:34 AM PDT by MineralMan (non-evangelical atheist)
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To: HuntsvilleTxVeteran

Ah, the Didache - Tradition is afforded its rightful place of honor!

40 posted on 06/27/2006 10:52:07 AM PDT by Notwithstanding (I love my German shepherd - Benedict XVI reigns!)
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