Faithlife Sermons

Why a House Church?

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Why a House Church? Family of God Fellowship is a house church. It’s different than the church you see on the corner of most blocks in America. Ours is not the only house church in the world or in America, in fact, our numbers are growing while the regular churches you see out there are shrinking. But that’s not why the Lord had us join this movement. So then, why a house church? First, it’s what the bible teaches. As I read my bible, and I strongly encourage you to read yours, I found that all the churches built from Matthew to Revelation were house churches. Our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed this when He sent out the twelve: Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town. – Matthew 10:11-15 And in Luke: When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. – Luke 9:1-6 Then, when Jesus sent out the seventy-two: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” – Luke 10:5-7 So, the Cornerstone and author of our faith prescribed churches built in homes. Then, after His ascension in Acts we see the Disciples meeting in homes and then after the conversion of Saul to Paul we see this same pattern continue throughout his ministries as well. Now there are lots of examples here so it would be laborious for me to type and tedious for you to read. Instead, I’ll list the references and you can look them up for yourselves (please, do): After ascension Acts 2:46-47; 12:12-14 Philippian Church Acts 16:13-15; 40 Lydia’s house (A female pastor) 16:31-34 Philippian jailer’s house Thessalonian Church Acts 17:5-9 Jason’s house Corinthian Church Acts 18:1-18 Aquila & Priscilla’s house, then Titus Justus’ house, then Crispus’ house – Paul started three churches there. Ephesian Church Acts 18:24-28 Priscilla & Aquila trained Apollos at their house here (they had moved from Corinth with Paul by this time). Troas Church Acts 20:7-12 where Eutychus was made alive; they don’t specify in the passage whose house at Troas they were meeting, just that it was on the first day of the week (Sunday). Caesarea Acts 21: 15-16 Mnason’s house, an early disciple from Cyprus Finally, throughout Paul’s epistles (Romans through Philemon) we see him sending greetings and commendations to various house churches he had built in his journeys and that he kept up with. Again, there are enough of them that I will list the references and let you look them up. Most people who read the epistles skip over these parts, but they are very useful for tracking the various characters mentioned. Romans 16:3-5 Priscilla & Aquila 1 Corinthians 1:11 Chloe’s household; 1:16 Stephanas household; 16:15 Stephanas in Achaia; 16:19 Aquila & Priscilla Colossians 4:15 Nympha and the church in her house (another female pastor) 2 Timothy 4:19 Priscilla & Aquila and household of Onesiphorus As an aside, as I studied this, I found the journeys of Priscilla & Aquila fascinating. That couple got around and did some amazing things for members of the supporting cast. I encourage you to run them down in scripture for yourselves. This is the biblical basis for the house church. It shows by scripture that there is a strong precedence for the format. This is not the only reason we are involved with this movement. The next reason is example. The main point in Ephesians 5 is that marriage, and by extension the home, is given to us as an example of God’s kingdom on earth when Paul says: After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body. “Fort this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. – Ephesians 5:29-32 Therefore, discipleship starts in the home. Christ to the husband, the husband to the wife, and both to the children, then the household to the community just as God to Christ, Christ to the church, the church to the members, and all the body to the community. There is your profound mystery revealed and the second reason for the house church. The third reason is that the traditional church has become seen as a place where people get closer to God. But Christianity is not about getting closer to God, it’s about God getting closer to us. It’s about entering into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We don’t need some grandiose and ornate sanctuary, or elaborate rituals to make us feel holy. That just promotes self-righteousness and that has never been OK with God. Rather, God seems to want our lives to reflect His holiness inside of us. That can be, and should be, done at home as well as in public. Along this line, the traditional church is increasingly being seen as just another business model. The church collects donations and uses that money to run the church, its programs/ministries, pay the clergy, and minister to the community. Most of these uses are fine and many churches even let you stipulate where your donations are spent. There is nothing wrong with donations being gathered within the body of Christ to help those in need. In fact, giving is a huge part of our Christian walk. But the church should not be a business. When the focus settles on bodies in the seats and dollars taken in, we have lost our way. God does not pay in dollars and cents; he pays in human hearts. This home church does not ask for donations and I pay for our ministry activities out of my own pocket. I am not saying this to toot my own horn but to illustrate the way the Apostle Paul prescribes not making full use of our rights: Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the alter share in what is being offered on the alter? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am just discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel. – 1 Corinthians 9:13-18 If our church gathers donations for something, all of it goes to the cause we gather for. I look at it like this, the Lord provides more than my family and I need so that we have something to share with others. We keep jobs to pay our bills. The church is taken care of so we have the freedom to concentrate on the needs of our community. Another reason for the house church is sincerity. When I first started going to church, I used to sit and look at all the people and wonder if they actually believed what was being preached. Some do, some don’t. There are lots of reasons folks fake it but, according to scripture, we are not to judge them (1 Corinthians 5:13), just love them as if they were one of us. One of the reasons, however, that believers leave the church is that they don’t see sincerity. They don’t see Christianity being lived out in the lives of the church members and they crave it. I craved it. My wife craved it. By God’s grace we live it in the house church. The church part of the house is not just something that is brought out on Sunday and put up in the shed during the week. The church is our house and our house are the church; they are one in the same. In this way, we show our faith by the way we live our lives. People wonder these days what real Christianity looks like; this is it. We do what we do because Jesus Christ has changed our lives and brought us together. We are his body, his church, and He is our King. The final reason for the house church is scalability. Anyone that has a house can do the same thing we are doing. Also, the house church movement includes more than just the small, house church format. It can also include bible studies, life groups, or anything else where believers get together in small numbers to worship or learn more about Jesus or do his works as he directs us. There are lots of variations to this format and God can use them all for His glory. The example we set here is that anyone can set up a church or form the body of Christ starting right at home as the Lord leads. A quick word about training and ordination. Any house church or bible study or group that sets up still needs oversight. Family of God Fellowship is registered with the Christian Leaders Alliance of Churches and the pastor was ordained through Christian Leaders Institute, an accredited seminary, as a house church minister. If you are setting up a house church, bible study, life group or other body of Christ format, please get proper training and maintain oversight. We are all imperfect human beings representing a perfect God. We make mistakes so we need counselors, advisors and other sets of eyes on what we are doing so we don’t get lost.
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