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From Wikipedia:

House church (or “home church”) is an informal term for an independent assembly of Christians intentionally gathering in a home or on other grounds not normally used for worship services, as opposed to a church building, due to specific beliefs. They may meet in homes because they prefer to meet informally, because they believe it is an effective way of creating “community” and engaging in outreach, or because they believe small family-sized churches were a deliberate apostolic pattern in the first century and intended by Christ.

The U.S. has one of the world’s smallest number of house churches. Why? I believe it’s because of the perceived need continue the tradition to have some sort of corporate worship in official buildings. One could say that since the U.S. is so developed, and since we can afford creating official structures for worship, and that it’s a convenient practice, then there is nothing wrong with meeting in a church building. Correct, there is nothing inherently wrong with meeting in a church building, unless of course it interferes with God’s plan to get out amongst his people and spread the Gospel.

 

There’s a great deal of history behind the meeting of Christians in their homes. Sometimes, those reason for meeting were bad (e.g. hiding from persecution), and sometimes those reasons were good (e.g. building a community). I’d like to examine the positive and negative affects of “house churches”.

 

There is an abundant history of the early church thriving while meeting at each others houses. When the early first Century church began, the Apostles themselves met in an upper room in order to pray together, with both men and women in attendance (Acts 1). There are also many more inferences we can make about the 1st Century church about them meeting in their homes. It was regarded as common practice.

 

Negative vs Positive aspects of having a “house church”.

Having a “house church” takes away the opportunity for visitors to come to a well known public place and be welcomed. There are many programs that churches institute that facilitate the welcoming of visitors and current members. Programs range from door greeters, using name tags, and designating people to meet at least 1 visitor and invite them to lunch.

In contrast, having a “house church” would enhance the opportunities meet new people. This opens the door to allow visitors, who previously have been nervous about stepping into an actual “church”, to feel welcome in a non-threatening environment. Christians can then invite their friends, or their coworkers in order to evangelize. The programs that churches use to help welcome visitors are a symptom of a larger problem. That problem is that the church seems too large to be able to immediately recognize visitors and at the same time provide a welcoming environment for them.

 

A “house church” is not equipped well enough to conduct an adequate worship service. The restroom facilities, seats, and even the general acoustics are just some of the things under concern. This denotes that a feeling of “official corporate worship” is important to some in the congregation.

Sometimes we get so used to the amenities that the church building offers that we forget that the 1st Century church, as well as some of today’s churches, have thrived without such conveniences. When physical contraptions such as microphones, water fountains, or even the number of toilets get in the way of building personal relationships in a close community, then something is wrong with our mindset.

 


Establishing a “house church” ensures division in the congregation. As the number of house churches grow, the number of people still meeting at a building shrinks, and then you’ll have dozens of smaller congregations, instead of one big united congregation.


While unity is something we should strive for, having “house churches” doesn’t necessarily mean division occurs. If a large congregation decides to start meeting in their homes, then one might see where shear numbers might show division. We all know that church splits occur way too frequently! However, all of the “house churches” are united in one purpose: To strive to share the Good News about God. And along the lines of my earlier thoughts, “house churches” provide an excellent evangelism tool for sharing and showing God.

 


The congregation is already used to meeting at a particular building, it’s a tradition and changing that will offend someone. There is no sense in giving up something that is convenient for most people.


There will always be opposition to change. And change for change’s sake isn’t necessarily good. But the biggest hurdle face in the house church movement is having to change the mindset of those resistant to change. People must been convinced that change needs to occur. The argument for house churches is that is provides a better means of evangelism, and is a better tool for building communities. However, if meeting in a church building is absolutely necessary for some, then please allow those that want to meet at the homes to do so.

 

I’m currently trying to spur interest in starting a house church instead of meeting at the build on Wednesday night. So far, I’ve only been to peak the interest of young adults. It would be actually MORE convenient to meet in our homes on that night, than to drive to the building. I also hope to encourage others to start their own house church. The format of the assembly doesn’t have to mirror the corporate version; it doesn’t necessarily have to include singing, preaching, etc. In fact, singing would be discouraged because of the probability that it would make a new comer uncomfortable. “Church” is just a assembling of Christians, so lets try to make a non-threatening environment in which we can invite our friends and co-workers into our home!

 

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I had my first meeting with the mormons last night, so I thought I’d give a bit of an overview of the study.   I’m gonna try to do this during the course of our studies, though I have no idea how many studies there will be.

The LDS missionaries had shown up at our house two Fridays ago asking for a study, so I accepted.  They showed up again this last Friday, I believe it was, to confirm the meeting would take place.  On both occassions, it was only the two young men.  However, I was interested to see that last night, it was the two young men and an older man who had come with them (probably late 40s or early 50s).  I was a bit surprised to see a third individual, though he said he was their ride.  He was also the head of the missions program at the local ward.  Incidentally, he had been raised a Methodist and had converted to Mormonism, so I suppose it worked pretty well for a couple such as myself and my wife, with a background in Christianity.

After some brief discussion about the Red Sox (the older man was a Red Sox fan as well), we started our meeting.  Though I had been through it before, it had been a while, so I got them to give their general speech again.  One thing that I was impressed with is that they really laid out a lot of doctrines that I would not have anticipated before I even had to ask about anything.  This was mostly at the doing of the third man.  He actually talked quite a bit – as much as, or possibly more than, the main missionaries did, though not in a commanding way.  He seemed genuinely interested in talking to us about this stuff.

After going through their main deal about how Joseph Smith got his revelations, having prophets and apostles, and things of that nature, I took some time to get some definitions.  This was really my whole intent for the evening to begin with.  I should add that I think it’s important, especially when talking to people of other religions, to make sure that you know what you’re talking about.  And I should also say I find it advisable to go to the people who you are dialoguing with for definitions, before running all over the internet to find what Mormons supposedly believe.  This is what I did with the last couple of missionaries who came to my house, and they could tell, and it probably did not leave me with a great impression on them, and frankly it could not have helped me reach out to them for Christ either.  But it’s also good strategically, if you will, to get definitions set in place.  I don’t really like to look at the situation as a game of strategy, but I can assure you the Mormons are prepared strategically when they come into your house, so it seems fair to be prepared in your own way as well.

Anyway, here is the list of defintions that I wanted to have by the end of the meeting, along with the notes that I wrote down.

Prophets – Used to lead & guide.  Prophets give scripture.  Amos 3:7 – God reveals his secrets to the prophets.  Dispensation = time of prophet.  Apostles were a back up system.  Apostles rejected –> Doctrine is distorted.

God – Father, Son, Holy Ghost –> separate persons/beings.  Father & Son have bodies, Holy Ghost does not = spirit.

Jesus – “we believ everything in the NT”  (concerning him).  Suffered in Gethsemane for our sins, killed on cross, rose on 3rd day.  Savior.

Salvation – Mormon 7:8-9.  Only through Jesus Christ.  Thru his grace.  Keep his commandments.  Atonement – 1st Adam & Even sin, we all die, etc.  2nd Accept Christ, repent.  Took on our sins in Garden of Gethsemane (we don’t understand how).

The Bible – Articles of Faith.  The Bible is the word of God if translated correctly.  KJV is the best.

Christianity – Articles of Faith 13. Follow example of Christ.

Children of God – Spirit children of God.  Father of our spirits.  Jesus is physically begotten of God – we are created.  We lived before we got here – pre-existence to this life.

Faith – Alma 32:21.  Know something ≠ faith.  Faith has power.  Learn things by exercising faith.  Faith precedes miracle.  Free agency is involved.  Violated if Christ came in person.

Sin – Break commandment = sin.  Contrary to will of God.

Resurrection – Jesus is first person ever resurrected.  Spirit leaves body of Christ – come back to body.  Perfect form.  Different types of resurreciton.  Resurrection at end, though others have already been resurrected. = James, Peter, John.  Moses. John the Baptist.  In General when Jesus comes back.

Authority Structure – Eph. 4:11ff.  Different priesthoods.  Elders (older), Deacon (12-13), Teachers (14-15), Priests (16-17).  Mel. Priesthood: Elder, etc.

Scriptures – Bible, BoM, Doctrines and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price.  D&C = Joseph Smith, as well as some other prophets. Pearl of Great Price = Ancient Papyrus with things from Moses, Abraham, etc.  Anything given by a prophet is scripture, but usually scripture refers to the standard works.

Obviously there is some interesting stuff just within my notes.  I found in particularly interesting that they emphasize the ability to know that Mormonism is true, simply by the feeling inside.  In fact, towards the end of the meeting, the older man told me specifically not to go at it with an academic thought process.  He later said that he thought it is very logical, but he still encouraged the inner experience, as it were.

Here’s a list of verses from the Bible that they brought up for consideration.

2 Timothy 4:3ff, 2 Thess. 2:2-3 – The apostasy of which the Mormons speak.

James 1:5 – Asking for wisdom from God to know what is right.

Eph. 4:11ff, Amos 3:7 – Authority structure of the church.

Ezekiel 37:16 – Apparently a prophecy about the Book of Mormon (one stick is the Bible, the other stick is the BoM).

Well, that’s basically it.  I’ll keep you update as I study some.  We’re meeting again this following Monday at the same time, and I’m going to have some questions prepared.  I’ll try to lay those out here as I get them together in an organized fashion.

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