Monday, August 14, 2006

House Churches ... Will They Work in North America?

A recent Barna Update has revealed some surprising trends in American the church attendance. Barna's recent study indicates that 9% of adults attend a house church during a typical week. A decade ago, this number was a meager 1% of the population in attendance each week. The current 9% level translates to about 20 million adults in attendance at a house church on any given week. Over the course of a month, approximately 43 million adults attend house churches! (Check out the update. It is a fascinating read.)

Barna believes that this trend will continue to rise over the next two decades. Indeed, he estimates that the level of participation will double over the next decade. It seems that he believes house churches are "here to stay" in North America.

I have to admit that I have always been a bit skeptical about the viability of house churches in a North American context. I suppose I always thought that the consumer-driven American culture would demand more, not less, from its weekly gathering of faith. But it seems that I may have been wrong. Publications focusing upon house churches (or simple churches) abound. There are various networks throughout North America. Just google the words "house church" and watch your screen fill up!

What do you think? Are house churches here to stay? Are you involved in a house church? What are the positives of house church? What are the negatives? Would you "give up" your full-service congregation for the simplicity of a house church?

6 Comments:

Blogger Michael Jones said...

Having grown up in a large church and now serve in a small church, I understand why people would join a "house church." The intimacy that can be found in a small church family is incredible and invaluable.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Tony Myles said...

I think Barna needs some stats about how effective his stats are.

:)

As per house churches, sounds good to me! Not to mention any way we can be the church.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I agree with Michael. There is a certain intimacy that is found in a house church that I don't think can be well duplicated in mega-churches. I do know of some mega churches that have amazing small groups that are small in number but that is rare.

In other news, it feels good to be commenting on a blog again after not having the oportunity to do so since getting back to school!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Geoff Baggett said...

I guess I still wonder about some aspects of house churches. In particular, I think that doctrinal purity and effective leadership may be two difficult issues to wrestle with.

My church is a cell-group focused church. We center the majority of our fellowship, Bible study, and discipleship in these groups. But even within the context of a larger, growing, organized church, issues of stability, control, and doctrinal "purity" can come into play.

Plus ... didn't I hear something recently about a house church network in Texas that turned out to be bogus. Some people were claiming to be planting large numbers of HC's, taking support money, and filing bogus reports. Has anyone else heard of that, or did I just get my wires crossed?

9:17 PM  
Blogger Bryan Riley said...

Doctrinal purity is an interesting term. What do you mean by it? I really like what one blogger wrote about "The Mindset of Biblical Interpretation and Labeling" at http://www.pursuing-faith.blogspot.com/.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Geoff Baggett said...

Bryan -
Maybe "doctrinal purity" isn't the best of terms, but it is as close as I could get.

I think doctrinal issues have an increased possibility of surfacing within a house church context. Even people who promote house churches and have ministries focused upon house churches recognize the increased likelihood of following false doctrine ... even heresy ... within a system where there is a lack of doctrinal "grounding."

Sometimes, house churches multiply so rapidly and are released to be "on their own" so quickly that the actual leaders may be brand new believers.

So ... all that is to say ... I was simply pointing out the dangers of infant Christians leading churches. Lack of doctrinal knowledge and discipleship could lead to a degrading o "doctrinal purity," especially with regard to the essentials of the faith.

9:52 AM  

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