You know what everybody’s used to doing? So easy, comfy, predicable? No muss, no fuss? Well you can forget about that, because the latest fad is tough as nails! It’s messy and frustrating! It’ll invade your privacy and give you a lot of extra work to do! It’ll make sure you never have more than you need and take away any chance you have of coasting through life! It’s fussy kids and dirty dishes and late nights sitting on folding chairs! Let me tell you, this is a fad that’s here to stay!
People such as George Barna (in his book, Revolution) are calling House Church a trend. Naturally, this is a loaded word, since the 20th century church has been through dozens of trends, none of which seemed to result in much serious change. The word “trendy” even presumes a short life upon that which it describes.
The Anatomy of a Trend
So what is a trend, really? I didn’t study this because I think you can all agree with me here: A trend is a shift towards a new, more desirable product, style or method. Many times it is only more desirable because it is new and fresh, and not because the product, style or method carries any extra empirical value.
But I believe you would be hard-pressed to find a short-lived trend occurring toward that which is inconvenient, invasive and messy.
Nevertheless, Home Church is finding itself on the bleeding edge of Christianity. So is it a new paradigm, or just a flash in the pan?
As King Solomon is famous for saying, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Those who are serious about Home Church know that as well as anyone. They take a hard look at all the shadows of “newness” taking place in the Church and realize that we can’t win that game. The Church will never have the money or the manpower to compete with MTV, Hollywood and Madison Avenue. And consequently it seems that every attempt to be edgy just ends up in a desperate attempt to be no more than two steps behind popular culture. But even if it were possible, would it be good?
The Apostle Paul says, “Don’t conform yourself to the styles and fashions of the world. Rather, let God transform you and renew your mind.” That doesn’t mean that we should ignore what the world is doing. But it should cause us to ask ourselves who is our model (see my post on the First-Century Church.) We have to shift our eyes from watching the world’s every move, to focusing on the guiding of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of His Word.
The Church Comes Home
Some people will read the book of Acts and conclude that God has set up a veritable constitution for Church form and function. Personally, I don’t think that position would hold up in court. But we can’t ignore the heavy emphasis on relationships. If the Church exists for no other reason, it exists to bring people closer to God and closer to each other. So we absolutely must ask ourselves if our church experience is accomplishing that. When you go to a large building and sit in a pew and watch a religious show, are you drawing closer to God and other people? Maybe you are. I know I have from time to time. But it always seemed like it happened more by accident than by design.
I will concede that there are probably many ways to accomplish the building of the kind of relationships championed by the book of Acts, and really, the whole Bible. But when it comes to vulnerability, intimacy, accountability and community, there is nothing like inviting others into your home to eat together, worship together, talk together, and learn together. It builds a binding strength that doesn’t lend itself to the flightiness and ambivalence of the typical local body. It allows everyone to play a crucial role in the corporate work of God. And it forces us to, slowly but surely, lay down our defenses and learn how to love others (even the unlovable) with the love of Christ.
Now I need to hear from you. What are the challenges you’ve anticipated, experienced and/or overcome in regards to Home Churching? What are other forms and methods besides HC that can build such powerful bonds as those seen in the First Century Church? Is there a case to be made for pew-and-pulpit ministry?
If I throw in the sales tax and extended warranty is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to buy this trend right now?