Thursday, December 18, 2008

The House Church - A solution?

OK - those of you who know me will realise that the title is more rhetorical than a proposal.

I was discussing the fad of the moment "The Shack" with a friend who said that all we need is to get more people into house churches. I have to admit that at that moment I despaired. I had thought they were starting to understand.

For a start I said that to call them churches was a misnomer, and secondly what made her think that a house church would solve the problems that a larger, and supposedly more formal church would solve?

There are two issues with the house church per se. The first is the whole way that the word church is used. We need to completely re-define the way we use the word church. It has been hijacked and misused so much that I do despair, however we have no other word which is as powerful and we really do need to get back to the concept behind the word church. In first C terms the church was the body of believers. It was not associated with an organisational structure, that came later. The church cannot own property, have a constitution, have a hierarchy of leaders, and cannot tell people how to think and behave. There is a line in the Nicene Creed which reads "I believe in the holy catholic church" which expresses the concept of the church much better than me. In this context catholic means universal and is saying that the church is as a whole the entire group of believers. There is much more I wish to say but I will leave that for later.

The second issue I have with house churches is that they are more or less clones of the institutions that we have grown to love. This is because the people running the house churches cling to the chauvinistic ideas that are plaguing the conventional churches. Until they can break into new ways of thinking about the church they will merely propogate the same mistakes over and over again.

What we need is not more house churches which are tiny clones of the man made institutions but a completely new way of thinking about what church is and is not. We need to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind".

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