Is the house church a better alternative?

Frank Viola & George Barna
(courtesy ‘Beyond Evangelical‘)


(courtesy TOUCH)

By Spencer D Gear

Some people are growing tired of the traditional church – even the evangelical church. It doesn’t matter how contemporary or traditional it may be, there is something wrong with how the church functions. How do I know? Take a read of what happened with the first century church. These are some samples:

designRed-small  According to the Book of Acts, church gatherings were held in people’s houses. See: Acts 2:42; 5:42; 20:20.

designRed-small We know that there were church gatherings in the houses of John’s mother (Acts 12:12), Lydia (Acts 16:40), Priscilla and Aquilla (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19), Gaius (Rom 16:23), Nympha (Col 4:15), and Philemon (Philem 2).

designRed-small  How to better care for one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12; Gal 5:22; 6:2; Phil 2:4; 1 Thess 5:11; 1 John 4:7-10; 2 Pet 1:5-7);

designRed-small  Everyone is a minister (1 Cor 14:26). All Bible references above are from the New Living Translation.

You do not need to be a genius

You do not need to be a whiz kid to know that the above emphasis is not what is happening in the contemporary church. It may be a:

Image result for traditional church public domain(public domain)

golden foward button Traditional church;

golden foward button Contemporary church;

golden foward button Seeker-sensitive church;

golden foward button Millennials[1] and church.

golden foward button Crawling and barking like a dog. See the ‘Crazy dog man’ behaviour of the Toronto Blessing on YouTube.

Something is going wrong that is causing the church to not function like the first century church. Have you ever stopped to compare the function of a 21st century pastor with a pastor in the first century church? What causes the distinct difference? ‘What has gone wrong with my church?’ is the very question asked in an article in Perspective magazine. But that was back in 1999. It is no better in 2015.

Expositions on the house church

There is a way to get back on track through a return to the church in the house, open fellowship, and all believers encouraged to minister when the group gathers.

There are four authors I’d recommend, the most structured being a former Southern Baptist, Ralph Neighbour, who has written extensively on the cell church movement. He has been active in cell church planting and helping traditional churches transition to the cell church. See his book, Where Do We Go From Here? This is the best material I’ve read for a more organised cell church. His organisation is TOUCH Ministries International.  You can interact with Ralph on this website.

Some more radical house church leaders are:

snowflake-red-smallGene Edwards, How To Meet. Sargent, GA: Message Ministry. See: ‘Gene Edwards – The Organic Church‘;

snowflake-red-small Frank Viola. His blog is called, ‘Beyond Evangelical‘.

snowflake-red-small Jon Zens, ‘Building Up the Body – One Man or One Another?

snowflake-red-small Why don’t you take a listen to the YouTube video, ‘The Cell Church – a Revolution in Ministry‘?

Some of my brief articles

I sit in my traditional church week after week and am not allowed to function in my gifts because of the non-interactive, traditional format. I’ve written a little on this topic on ‘Truth Challenge’, my homepage. Here are a few articles (there will be some overlap) and each has a bibliography at the end of the article or in the endnotes.

There’s considerable criticisms of Gene Edwards’ approach on the Internet. You can search for them.

In my region, an evangelical friend has been to a local house church where there was no structure and people were not very committed. They would not show up on time. The other one I visited is the one I wrote about in ‘Charismatic chaos in a Brisbane house church‘.

Husband and wife united in purpose

I would love to start a house church in our house but the house is too small. My wife loves the Lord deeply but she is not ready to leave the traditional church where she plays piano in the musical team. Even though I’m not a TULIP Calvinist, we attend a local evangelical – and very traditional – Presbyterian church where there is outstanding expository preaching. Sadly, the every-member ministry gifts are suppressed.

I live in tension between what I would like to do according to the biblical mandate and what is currently available in my region.


[1] Millennials were born after 1980.


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.