Christian Life 

House church /organic church developments

When we see something happening across the body of Christ in an unconnected but spontaneous and widespread fashion we need to take note.

 


 

Fad or TrendFad or trend?

 


While it may not be a definitive rule, two of the differences between a fad and a trend relate to the timescale and the outcome.

A fad often springs from nowhere and disappears just as quickly without trace – a meteor which flashes across the sky and then vanishes completely. Spectacular and attention-grabbing these things might be, but they are of little real or lasting significance.

A trend however is quite different.
In contra-distinction, a trend often builds very slowly and is usually difficult to detect in its early days. It is not ‘flashy’ in the sense of a high-profile fad but it is profound, lasting and pervasive. Yet – initially at least – there is no headline grabbing story to raise awareness and to attract a following: it is subtle, almost invisible and silent. Most often those experiencing something in their own spirit(s) in the early days will not know that others are sensing the same things. And ‘sensing’ invariably precedes any ‘doing’ – often with a long period of time between these two dynamics. As a process, considerable time might elapse regarding a trend before there are any ‘facts on the ground’.


A Holy Dissatisfaction


Around fifteen years ago or so I first started to detect traces of ‘something going on’. Typically, I would bump into a Christian friend in the street whom I hadn’t seen for some time. “How’s things; and how’s the family?” we would say. However getting into other things I would sense that my friend was – well – unsettled, but couldn’t quite put it into words. He (or she) would invariably be a solid Christian believer; earnest about their faith: certainly not a church-hopper. But the friend was troubled with (what I came to describe as) a ‘God-given unsettledness’; a sort of ‘Holy dissatisfaction’. Figuratively speaking it was as if they were looking at the dynamic in the book of Acts and comparing this with their own Christian life and church routines; and sensing a ‘disconnect’. But they were troubled.

Something at a spiritual level (and they couldn’t quite put their finger on it) was eluding them. And to add to their unease, as they looked across the spectrum of denominations and organised Christianity the could not see elsewhere what they felt was missing in their own environment. To further their discomfiture, it appeared that other Christians were happily engaged with their various meetings and church-life activities. So my friend(s) thought: “It’s only me. There must be something wrong with me, as everyone else seems OK.”

More and more...

Now these encounters described above – initially, well over a decade ago – were very occasional; perhaps once a year. But since then, the frequency has increased. As time passed, these conversations (all appearing in ‘chance’ encounters) were popping up more and more often: monthly, sometimes weekly and even (nowadays) almost daily.

As more and more people discovered that they were not alone in their thinking they realised that they were thinking the same thoughts. They found – and while many still find it difficult to articulate precisely their feelings – that standard churchianity was not leading to the fulfilled spiritual experience which is a part of new life in Christ (John 1:16).

...leading to developments

Most recently, over the past two years or so, more and more of those disciples have been starting to meet in small groups: very often in a home or some similar-sized but homely venue. But while it would be easy to say that these were just house groups they are not that and they are much more than that. In fact – using the biblical criteria regarding the life of believers meeting together – they are in fact churches in the fully-orbed sense of that word.

The man-in-the-street tends to define ‘church’ as denominations, steeple-houses, clergy and Sunday morning routines. But these are facets which have grown up – some helpful – which are not the essential components of ‘church’. In fact of themselves they offer no guarantees regarding depth of true biblical fellowship, spiritual reality or the meaningful, mutually-supportive relationship which ooze out of the recorded experiences of the early believers.

So what is the Spirit doing in our midst?

Chris Hill1In a recent ‘conversation’ regarding the growth of small groups/house churches Chris Hill of CL Ministries spoke of the dynamic which is being seen and experienced across the church spectrum.
Have a listen to Chris’s take on what is happening. It makes for interesting and challenging listening. Chris and his wife are personal friends of Jean Darnall who was given a vision of 'small fires' breaking out across the country.

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Footnotes:
Watch this space for some more comment and teaching from Chris. The vision given to Jean Darnall and to which Chris refers can be found by clicking here.

Some within the house church movement consider the term "house church" to be a misnomer, asserting that the main issue for Christians who practice their faith in this manner is not the house but the type of meeting that takes place.
Other titles which may be used to describe this movement are "simple church" "relational church," "primitive church," "body life," "organic church," or "biblical church." However all of the practices implied by these terms are shared with many other churches outside the movement.

 


Christians Together/Chris Hill, 28/04/2012

Feedback:
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Editor 30/06/2012 17:46
A member of Christians Together writes:
>>>
Please pray for guidance and support for the work of The Lord in the Aberdeenshire west area.

There is a need for a biblical based church in this area and we are sure that there are other believers seeking same. Pray specifically for male leadership to be raised up and that Christians locate each other for fellowship and mutual edification.
<<<<

Dave (Guest) 04/07/2012 08:06
The struggle for truth is nothing new when it comes to God's view of Church versus man's. The battle will always be for God's perspective to be at the foreground and not the background of Church life. Let's face it, being salt and light is not popular, but vital if we are to please God and not people!
Editor 05/07/2012 15:42
I hope to publish a short article about a house church which has been meeting for some time. I stress that this is a house church and not a house group. And there are others I know of who are meeting in similar fashion but not necessarily in a home.

If you are part of a small gathering of God's people who are meeting as a church in informal settings I would be grateful if you could be in touch. Many thanks.
HH (Guest) 06/07/2012 08:19
Informal settings? Pubs, clubs, cafes, health centres etc?
B Lever (Guest) 06/07/2012 16:42
Don't know if it applies, and I don't want to advertise, but does a bible study in a national coffee house chain count?
Editor 06/07/2012 18:09
In response to the above messages - I am interested in all of these things i.e. Christians meeting in non-steeplehouse settings.

But what I am particularly interested in - in order to help others with the questions they have - is activities which are not merely mid-week 'add on' to attendance at traditional Sunday meetings. i.e. those situations where Christians are being the body of Christ in all its fulness in non-traditional settings and outside of the 'building-centred/one-man pastor' model.

Thanks in anticipation.
Editor 28/08/2012 20:09
Peter Farmer of www.simplechurch.co.uk and www.missionbritain.com is due to speak on the growing number of believers who are meeting in a number of different ways for fellowship, teaching, prayer, etc.

All those who are interested are warmly invited to an afternoon/evening meeting on 8th September 2012 to explore the issues.
See - http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/324494/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Small_Churches_and/Modern_Missional_Communities.aspx

There will be a break for a meal between the afternoon and evening meetings. Further information Guy/Jocelyn Pembroke - 0772 4992790
Henry (Guest) 08/12/2013 17:00
Anyone interested in house church in Aberdeen? I'm wondering if one exists or if anyone would like to start one. Email me at henrychandos at gmail dot com
Dale M 08/12/2013 20:55
Henry,

I have sent you an email.

I have also noted one of the comments above written by the Editor:
A member of Christians Together writes:
>>>
Please pray for guidance and support for the work of The Lord in the Aberdeenshire west area.

There is a need for a biblical based church in this area and we are sure that there are other believers seeking same. Pray specifically for male leadership to be raised up and that Christians locate each other for fellowship and mutual edification.

I'm not sure how this can be pursued. Maybe the Editor has further information.
Dale (Guest) 10/12/2013 14:33
Henry, Regarding House Church in Aberdeen. I sent you an email. As I have not received a reply, I thought I would re-send. Hopefully you will get it this time.
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Small Churches and House Churches > House church / organic church developments