House Church

House Church – What are they?
What is a house church? We are used to thinking of church as a building, but how does the Bible portray the church? Interestingly, the Bible never uses the word “church” to describe a building; instead, it gives us the picture of the church as a family. Like a family, there are spiritual mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers in Christ. The church is called “God’s household” (1 Timothy 3:15). They shared common meals together (Acts 2:46, 1 Corinthians 11:20-21). Lived life together (Acts 2:44-46) and as a family, were to care for and love one another deeply (1 Peter 1:22). Not surprisingly then, the New Testament churches typically met in the homes of believers.

Here are some biblical examples of New Testament house churches

  • Lydia’s House (Acts 16:40)
  • An Upper Room (Acts 20:8)
  • Priscilla and Aquila’s house (Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19)
  • Nympha’s house in Laodicea (Colossians 4:15)
  • Archippa’s house (Philemon 2)
Some in the West see the house church as a new phenomenon when, in reality, house churches have existed since the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:42-47). Many large churches today started because of a small group meeting in the homes of believers. In China, for example, the house church has been one of the vehicles God used to multiply the number of Chinese disciples from a few thousand in the 1930s to, by some estimates, more than 80 million believers today.

House Church – The Numerous Advantages
There are many good reasons to consider starting a house church:

  • It is a biblical model.
  • It is family oriented; parents and children participate together as appropriate.
  • People more easily get to know one another in a small group.
  • Smaller groups can lead to increased accountability to each other.
  • Everyone participates and ministers so people grow in using their spiritual gifts.
  • Highly trained pastors are not required in order to lead large numbers of people.
  • There is no need for expensive, time-consuming programs.
  • House churches direct their finances toward evangelism, community service, or caring for one member’s needs instead of purchasing expensive buildings.
  • They are low profile and thus, better able to withstand persecution and oppression.
What do people do in house churches? Acts 2:42-47 gives us an outline of what should happen in house church. Believers devote themselves to...
  • The Apostle’s teaching – reading, studying, and discussing God’s Word.
  • Fellowship – being with each other, enjoying one another, and encouraging one another.
  • Breaking of bread - sharing meals together and participating in the Lord’s Supper.
  • Prayer – praying for one another’s needs and for advancing God’s kingdom.
  • Being together – hanging out and living in harmony with one another.
  • Giving – providing for one another’s needs and for outreach.
  • Worship – praising and glorifying God through word and music.

House Church – A Way to Reach a New Generation?
Are we saying that a house church is the only legitimate way to “do” church? No, but house churches are a biblical model and are “real” churches with a number of advantages. Just as there are many different flavors of ice cream, so churches come in many different flavors. While the house church may not appeal to everyone, they may be a wonderful alternative to reach and disciple new generations who are not familiar with or may be uncomfortable in a traditional church setting.

This listing of house churches and other types of churches in your area can be found here.

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