ARE HOUSE CHURCHES THE WAY?
As the House Church has grown in popularity in many places, it is worth considering whether this is the way for more churches to go. Are the answers to church stagnation found here? There are 3 types of house churches.
1. A church that starts off in a house because it is small and that is practical, but the intention is that it is in a just first step. And it usually is.
2. A house church deliberately set up that way because the people believe that is the way the church should be organised. Generally it is the way, and place it stays. Nor do they seem to replicate themsselves, as the theory might be that they should. (But nor do most churches of any type!)
3. Those that set up in houses, for persecution has forced them underground.
When we analyse it, church structure is not the true determinant of whether or not a church expands. Following a 'method' does not work, for each situation is different. What works in one place will not necessarily work in another.
There are 2 primary causes of this.
1. THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH If the people in the church are not willing to get involved with their community and evangelise - by word and example - nothing will work. For evangelism is a matter of the heart, not organisation. The worst organised churches can grow, while the best organised stagnate. I've seen both.
2. THE PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY Evangelism methods that work in one community will not necessarily work in another. So there is no church structure or method that can be universally successful in bringing growth through new conversions.
The whole point is that whether you have 'church' in a building or a house, in the end, it is not that which makes the difference. It is the people in the 'church' who are the greatest determinant of growth.
One of the best motivators to evangelism is persecution! That is why underground house churches are so successful. Not because they are in houses - but because the believers are 100% committed - or else they wouldn't be there!
So the call to the church today, is not one of structure, but one of commitment. It's why the New Testament majors on living! Of growing believers into disciples! Structure is accorded a minor place.
I have seen successful and unsuccessful churches in buildings. And the same for house churches. In about the same proportions. For people are people, no matter what the structure.
Finally, as pastors and leaders, we should not be seeking out the latest fashion and trying to apply it to our situation. But rather, be seeking God for His leading in our uniqueness. Then encouraging our people to become committed to the cause. For commitment to spreading the Gospel of Jesus is the true foundation for growth, whatever church structure we operate within.
And I'd always thought it was the colour of the pastor's shoes.......
By David Tait of "Walking With Jesus Ministries" via "Praise God It's Monday" devotional July 26, 2004
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