Advantages & Disadvantages of Non-House Churches

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by BroChris, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. BroChris

    BroChris
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    I've been talking with a friend for awhile who attends a house church. I have nothing against house churches at all, but he seems to think that any church that does not meet in a house is not biblical. I come from the perspective that no church is perfect, and that we can probably learn something from every church model. What's your opinion? What are the advantages and disadvantages of meeting in a building rather than a house?
     
  2. SaggyWoman

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    Advantages to house churches:
    1. Not much overhead. Money can go to "ministry" whatever that means.
    2. Smaller group, more intimacy
    3. Tends to be more inclusive

    Disadvantages to house churches
    1. Possibility/probability that group will outgrow space, will need to split or move. (which, at some level, could be an advantage.) House tends to limit size of group.
    2. Wear and tear (up) on person's house. And person in house to always be prepared.
    3. Sometimes logistics, such as parking.
    4. Sometimes access to resources
    5. Depending on whose house it is. sometimes (as in small group situations that meet in houses) this brings out the odd and strange people in the world that would know where single women live.....Could be a bit dangerous if you didn't know the people coming to small group/house church.


    Personally, I am not for or against: to each his own. I think if we attend a bigger church, we should be involved in small groups such as Sunday school or other "what ever you term them" groups.
     
  3. Tom Butler

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    For one thing, we can't get all our attenders into my house. For another, we don't have enough parking space for all the cars that would show up.

    People meet in houses for quite practical reasons, rather than any Biblical mandate.

    If your friend insists that house churches are the only way, be sure to urge him not to flip on the light switch or fire up the coffee maker. And leave the air-conditioner off and get out the funeral home fans from 50 years ago.

    And for goodness sake, urge him not to show any videos on his DVR.

    Is he getting to the house church by horse, mule or camel?

    One other point. Didn't Paul and others go to the synagogues (which are buildings designed for worship and scripture study)?

    House churches are fine with me. So are buildings.
     
  4. saturneptune

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    If the assembly of believers is a local New Testement church in every sense of the word, I do not think it matters where they meet.

    The advantage of a building is purely cosmetic. It allows everyone to have a common meeting place without depending on someones home. It is easier to meet for fellowship dinners, or hold revivals and the like.

    Disadvantages to a building, especially the more elaborate ones, focuses attention on the building at times instead of the Lord. A lot of the church's effort is spent on upkeep and secular type programs to attract new members.
     
  5. Amy.G

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    Last time I checked, a house is a building. :)
    Once the house group grows too large for a house, the group either has to split into more "house" groups or move to a larger building and leave the house concept behind. If it doesn't grow, I think you may have a more serious problem than whether a house or building is used.
     
  6. SaggyWoman

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    Indeed. I agree.
     
  7. BroChris

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    This is the disadvantage that my friend focuses on the most. He points to the fact that his church is very active in the community, whereas most activities that churches with buildings do are held in the building. He dismisses such activities as true ministry, as he think the church is called to "build up the ancient ruins" (Isaiah 61:4).

    Besides space and parking issues, which my friend would say are not issues at all because they are fine with starting new house churches, are there any advantages to having a church building? What about misconceptions that arise in the minds of believers due to having or not having a building?
     
  8. Tom Butler

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    Maybe we need some more specificity. When your friend speaks of being active in the community, what does he mean. What form does it take? Are they social ministries? Are they evangelistic or outreach oriented?

    Also, what's his definition of true ministry? And for goodness sake, what is building up the ancient ruins? This fella might have some valid points. The problem is, I don't know what in the wide, wide world of sports he's talking about.
     
  9. Jim1999

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    In my early days, a house church was only the beginning to an end. They had pastors and deacons and were organized as a local church. As they grew a building was sought after.

    If the house church has no pastor or deacons, which most of them do not, they are unbiblical, especially on New Testament standards.

    Many of the folk are avoiding discipline and guided teaching. They tend to be self-centred and are attracting like-minded people. It becomes a form of rebellion.

    My ideal church is between 100 and 350 members, one pastor and seven deacons and a written list of doctrines as guide.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. BroChris

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    It's hard to sum up everything that I've talked about with him, as this conversation started at least a year ago, and we've talked about many things that relate to all this.

    Basically, it comes down to that he thinks Christianity has gotten distracted by its buildings, and has neglected ministering to people who need Christ most (he defines this as people in the inner city, or "the ancient ruins"). This weekend, for example, his church is going downtown to minister to and play with the kids in the city. It's interesting, though, that he dismisses sports ministries that are held in church gyms, because we are asking people to come to us, though the goals and activities are the same.

    He has a big problem with buildings because they cost so much money, and that money is better spent fixing up downtown, helping the poor. My response is that's great, but if we all minister to the inner city, who will minister to those not in the inner city? We need churches in both places, and the way we minister to each is going to be different.

    I don't think they have paid staff, but they do recognize officers in the church. He himself is an elder, I think, because he speaks occasionally on Saturday mornings when they gather to worship. Although, he also downplays this gathering because he says it makes up only a small fraction of who they are as a church, and the main thing is being a presence in the community, which (he says) most churches fail to do.

    He makes a lot of good points, but he says them in such a way as to say "We are a biblical church, and anyone not doing it like us is not biblical." This is what I disagree with. Which is why I am getting feedback on what the advantages of having a church building are.
     
  11. Dale-c

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    There is certainly nothing wrong with meeting in a house out of necessity but it has been my experience that most that do have doctrinal problems as well.

    I would say that ALL house churches that are house church only types have serious issues.

    As it has been pointed out already, there is typically a rebellion against BIblical authority and discipline in house churches.

    Oh, and they tend to stay small because rebellious people don't get along with each other very long in most cases.
     
  12. Dale-c

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    Oh, I would add that we should make a distinction between a "house church" and a church that happens, at the time to meet in a house.

    The "house church" is not biblical.
    THe Church that meets in a house is fine.
     
  13. Marcia

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    My concern with house churches (I am not speaking of those meeting in homes initially to start a church who then later get a building for the church)
    1. They can be isolating from other believers
    2. They can easily grow cultic (and some are)
    3. House church movements I know of tend to be elitist (i.e., what you say above, that only a house church is biblical - this is nonsense)
     
  14. Marcia

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    I agree with this.
     
  15. saturneptune

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    Why would the location of a building or house have any influence whatsoever on doctrine, or local church authority, or how people get along?

    Neither do I believe that the position of stars and planets influence human behavior.
     
  16. Dale-c

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    The point is that when people intentionally meet in a residence by doctrine rather than circumstance, it usually goes together with other doctrinal problems.

    Even then, the place they meet is not the problem but the fact that they would believe others are wrong for having a building.
     
  17. saturneptune

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    OK I can agree with that. If they are at a house to avoid the idea of a building or the church establishment, I can see your point.

    I was thinking along the lines that churches would meet, maybe on a temporary basis, where circumstances dictated or the Lord provided. The idea of an agenda never entered my mind. Thanks for the clarification.
     
  18. Dale-c

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    Saturn, I have attended a church at a house before.
    My dad is a pastor and he started a church years ago in a house until they could get a building.
    They of course got a building as soon was possible.

    However, we had a neighbor at that time who was part of a cult that believed it was wrong to meet in buildings.
    THey thought we were great at first since we met in a house but we later learned that their cult did not even believe the Jesus was sinless.

    Other house churches I know of deny pastoral leadership etc.

    If you are not familiar with these groups, just count your blessings :)
     
  19. SaggyWoman

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    I have a developing calling to work with inner city kids / at risk kids. What trouble I have with churches and buildings is churches that build buildings and then only use them for Sunday and Wednesday. What is the point? Why not build a church--build a church on rubble--and use that church "building" 24 7 to work in the down town helping the poor? Use it to feed, clothe and house the homeless, destitute and in need.

    Have a day care and / or school at the church BUILDING. Host a recovery program.

    Sounds like he is beating something that really isn't the "problem."

    I hope he is not making excuses.
     
    #19 SaggyWoman, Sep 12, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2009
  20. annsni

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    We would have been hard pressed to have fit the 450 kids and 230 workers in a house for VBS. :) And we've found VBS to be a GREAT service to the community and each year, we minister to numerous families who come to know Jesus Christ - just through the initial contact of VBS.
     

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