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T O P I C    R E V I E W
DARRIELHAGANS Posted - 08/26/2003 : 11:13:48
Hello bro ther and sisters,

My question is, do you know of or if anyone who is planting a church that is starting from the begining. There is no numbers of yet and wants to start one? I ask, because, I want to know are you going to stay a cell and just grow from cell to cell and never become a what we call a church with walls. I hope this is a clear question.

My hope is to plant a church from cell to cell, have evangelistic services and celebrations services maybe twice a month. The remainder of the time would be fellowship in cells every week. This includes worship, fellowship, ministry, dicipleship and evangelism.
14   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Link H Posted - 01/31/2004 : 20:54:04
Originally posted by James Bell
>>The "ownership" comment was in reference to some leaders feeling that they "own" the cell movement (even though they are continuing to lose credibility with other Christian leaders because of their narrow approach small group ministry).<<

Many in house churches do not call it 'cell church' but there is some overlap. Some who get into house churches after being in cell churches, who want churches without a church building are doing the same thing.

Maybe some HC people think they 'own' the movement. I can think of a small group who may think that way. But most people I've met realize that this is something a lot bigger than they are.

>>To say that the house churches reach more sinners than churches with buildings and congregational worship is patently absurd. In Houston, as well as many other American cities, those who boast that they are the ones really sensitive to the unchurched will usually baptize fewer in a year than the churches they criticise baptized in a week.<<

Is it fair to compare the _number_ of people baptized in a house church of 20 people with the _number_ of people baptized in a church of 3000 people. If you want to do statistics wouldn't a per capita estimate be better? And you should take Chinese house churches into consideration in your figures. It would be hard to come up with enough house church numbers to do a representative sample, too.

Watchman Nee spoke of a difference between the work and the church. He was commenting on the way the words were used in scripture. What Paul did when he went out and evangelized he described as 'the work' and what resulted were churches. If we categorize things this way, baptizing is closely related with 'the work' but where do we see examples of the church baptizing? I'm not saying it's wrong for a church to baptize. But in some cases, an evangelist or some other brother may baptize those he wins to Christ, and then bring them to a church that he knows of. (This is probably more common in frontier missions situations these days.) Is it really fair to measure a church's success or even it's growth by how many are baptized in that church?

>>What about the five-fold ministry shown us in Ephesians 4? And what about spiritual giftedness as described in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14? To "equip the church" the Prophet develops others in their prophetic giftings. The Apostle lays the foundational truth, in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. The Teacher develops the teaching gifts in others. The Evangelist raises up people to evangelize. The Pastor (in the true sense, as you described) shows others in the church how to nurture and care. A great many of these things happen in the larger congregation. Lots of them also happen in small groups. They should be working in tandem.<<

This is a good question. First of all, I don't believe house churches should be a world to themselves. The house meetings in scripture were sometimes a part of a larger community that made up the church in the city. In addition to this, churches in one city would send brethren to a church in another city to strengthen it (e.g. Barnabas, Silas, and Judas going to Antioch; Apollos going to Corinth.) I'm over 200 pages into a book I'm writing on house church planting and I go into more detail on this in my book. Let me know if you would like the chapter about sending brethren, or the entire book.

As far as apostolic ministry is concerned, I haven't followed every detail of it in the US. But from what I gather, there is a movement in the US to set up traditional pastors as heads over elaborate franchises of churches and call them 'apostles.' I don't see how this has much to do with the apostolic ministry in scripture.

Many of the people I know of who have done ministry that appears to be apostolic are involved in house churches. In fact, the house church movement-- and some would object to my even using that term--seems to have a view of apostleship that is much closer to the scriptures than anything else I've seen today. I may have mentioned the brothers I met last week who had planted a lot of churches in East Java. I was talking to the older one who had taught the younger one. He said that the young man had an apostolic gift. I don't think they were able to count how many churches he'd planted. He ministered to many other churches as well. I know a Singaporian brother who has planted many churches in the Ukraine who has had 'apostle' prophesied over him a lot, and his work sure seems apostolic. He is into house churches, too. <bad word> Scoggins, who has worked as a YWAM CP coach, who has been involved in church planting in the US, and is now working in England and some sensitive countries around the world believes he has an apostolic gift. His ministry seems to match the 'Biblical pattern' for apostleship.

The idea of an apostle as a big shot who organizes or is fatherly, but doesn't do the kind of apostolic work that Biblical apostles do has it's adherants among house church people, too.

>>When the small groups see themeselves as self-sufficient without the five-fold authority God places in church leadership, they deny the biblical structure for the anointing to flow from the Father through the head (Christ), and down from the leadership onto the members.<<

My opinion is that the traditional church structures greatly inhibit the development of five-fold ministers, and our ability to recognize them. Prophets are supposed to be prophesy in the assembly. Tradition and some teachings on this issue lead us to believe that they will all be 'full-time' professional ministers. Church meetings that don't allow the freedom of I Corinthians 14, and that do not follow the commandments of the Lord laid down for prophecy in that chapter inhibit the development of those ministries. So many people who have sensed the Lord tell them they are prophets are sitting around waiting to be released in their ministry. They may think they will be put in full-time ministry someday. The church is so set on having it's sermons and songs, that it doesn't allow them to minister Biblically in their gift, and doesn't recognize them as prophets when they do squeeze a prophecy in during the lull between the slow songs in the meeting.

Those gifted as teachers may get little opportunity to use their gifts in the assembly unless they are professional preachers. We should have faithful men teaching others, who will then become teachers.

Interactive house church meetings are a good environment for training new believers. Often, the leaders aren't 'professionals.' (Some elders hold secular jobs.) And regular believers with gifts can be recognized with their gifts and have a chance to use them and grow in them.

I visited a house church conference a couple of times during my recent time in the states. It seemed like a large number of the people there were teachers, with a lot of depth of Bible knowledge. A few of them may have 'lived on faith,' but a lot of them had jobs. They had grown and developed over the years in these gifts, even if they weren't official clergy.

>> I believe both the larger congregation and it's services and the cells are critical to the success of any church. <<

Larger meetings should still follow Biblical guidelines. I Corinthians 14 mentions 'the whole church.' Gaius was host to the 'whole church' in Corinth, so they may have had larger citywide meetings squeezed in his house. I don't believe house churches should be completely independant of each other.

Some of the house churches here in Jakarta seem to do a lot of networking. There is opportunity for four kinds of ministers of Ephesians 4:11 to visit other churches and help strengthen them.

>>Even in some posts in this forum, I have run across comments stating that the small groups are not (and they are bragging about it) Bible studies. They also state that they don't want to rely on a corporate congregation or weekly larger meeting. Talk about a recipe for disaster!<<

There is reason to see the meeting in the home as the 'basic unit' of church. Romans mentions a church in a house, but doesn't say anything about the saints in the whole city meeting as a church.

In a lot of small villages, all they have is a house church, and they get by. I don't see them as doomed to disaster.


A house church can have Bible study as a part of what it does. But it should be more than just a Bible study.

>> If the home church wants to be a part of the body of Christ and then isolates itself from Bible study, corporate services with Spiritual giftedness, and the leadership of Elders, it will become an "elbow twitching in the ditch", not a part of the body. <<

A lot of traditional congregations of different sizes cut themselves off from the rest of the body of Christ in the city. They don't make decisions together, feed widows together, or other similar things. Even some large cell churches may pay little attention to the rest of the body of Christ in their community. Are these large elbows twitching in the ditch?

>>Often, when a leader cannot work as a part of a team, or when there is a problem with authority, they just start what is called a home church. These groups, birthed in the rebellion, are toxic in their destructive teachings and attack all growing churches as less authentic and/or "compromising".<<

Maybe you've seen this happen. A lot of the house churches I am thinking of in the US are not so 'leader oriented.' They don't believe in being 'Brother Joe's' church. Some home churches are institutional, preacher-centered churches that just happen to meet in a house instead of in a steeple house.

>>I don't believe you are like that. You seem sincere and you have a kind, reasonable attitude as you look for new truth and methods. I respect that. I just pray that you will not be influenced by people who are still carrying bitterness, unforgiveness, and confusion into an assault against churches that choose not to see ministry in the narrow way that they have chosen to view it.<<

I've run across that kind of attitude before, mostly on the Internet. While a lot of people do get frustrated with a lot of unbiblical things going on in churches before getting involved in house churches, most of the HC people I've met in person seem to be sincerely seeking the Lord. I haven't met a lot of people doing work with house churches that have obvious chips on their shoulders. I think the HC movement may be maturing.

Here in Indonesia, a lot of the HC work includes people who are very friendly toward institutional churches. Some of the missionaries get support from institutional churches as well. One of the Charismatic cell churches legally helps HC's that are not a part of it's organization by providing baptismal paperwork and things of that sort. The situation here is a bit differen from in the US.


>> Don't listen to the ill-willed, self-styled expert, my friend. I know of several who preach abroad but do practically nothing at home. Some don't even belong to a church. But they talk as if they understand the heartbeat of the American church. Someone once said, "A big-shot is nothing but a little-shot a long way from home".<<

Do you have someone in particular in mind? Most of the expats I know doing HC over here have closed ties with instituional churches, and dont' seem bitter at all toward it. Most of the people doing HC are from here. I would think that expat 'big-shots' here would go for the larger congregations.

The HC movement does attract some hurt people and occasionally some flakes. But I don't think this is truly representative of house churches.

Btw, thank you for your kind and even-handed response. May God bless your ministry.

-Link
James Bell Posted - 01/31/2004 : 17:21:08
Dear Link,

That was a well-phrased response, and you expressed your views objectively. The "ownership" comment was in reference to some leaders feeling that they "own" the cell movement (even though they are continuing to lose credibility with other Christian leaders because of their narrow approach small group ministry).

In reference to the "80% spent of pastor's salary and building", that comment is another of the tired, hackneyed accusations thrown at pastors by some who are jealous of their success in ministry. The actual guideline is 33% of the budget for the entire staff! And often the churches will have a mortgage payment, but that is not the unpardonable sin either, especially if they are reaching souls and discipling Christians. Often the same people who toss these inaccurate comments around will spend unbelievable amounts on personal trips, conferences, and "ministry expenses".

To say that the house churches reach more sinners than churches with buildings and congregational worship is patently absurd. In Houston, as well as many other American cities, those who boast that they are the ones really sensitive to the unchurched will usually baptize fewer in a year than the churches they criticise baptized in a week.

Here is what does concern me, however, and I would welcome your comments:

What about the five-fold ministry shown us in Ephesians 4? And what about spiritual giftedness as described in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14? To "equip the church" the Prophet develops others in their prophetic giftings. The Apostle lays the foundational truth, in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. The Teacher develops the teaching gifts in others. The Evangelist raises up people to evangelize. The Pastor (in the true sense, as you described) shows others in the church how to nurture and care. A great many of these things happen in the larger congregation. Lots of them also happen in small groups. They should be working in tandem.

When the small groups see themeselves as self-sufficient without the five-fold authority God places in church leadership, they deny the biblical structure for the anointing to flow from the Father through the head (Christ), and down from the leadership onto the members. I believe both the larger congregation and it's services and the cells are critical to the success of any church.

Even in some posts in this forum, I have run across comments stating that the small groups are not (and they are bragging about it) Bible studies. They also state that they don't want to rely on a corporate congregation or weekly larger meeting. Talk about a recipe for disaster! Our cells are not Bible studies either, but we have a Wednesday Night Bible Study, and a cell leader is not allowed to miss it and facilitate the next cell meeting. There is a time for Bible study! If the home church wants to be a part of the body of Christ and then isolates itself from Bible study, corporate services with Spiritual giftedness, and the leadership of Elders, it will become an "elbow twitching in the ditch", not a part of the body.

Often, when a leader cannot work as a part of a team, or when there is a problem with authority, they just start what is called a home church. These groups, birthed in the rebellion, are toxic in their destructive teachings and attack all growing churches as less authentic and/or "compromising".

I don't believe you are like that. You seem sincere and you have a kind, reasonable attitude as you look for new truth and methods. I respect that. I just pray that you will not be influenced by people who are still carrying bitterness, unforgiveness, and confusion into an assault against churches that choose not to see ministry in the narrow way that they have chosen to view it. The church in America may be different than what you have heard. There are some good things happening, even though we long to see more of a move of God. Don't listen to the ill-willed, self-styled expert, my friend. I know of several who preach abroad but do practically nothing at home. Some don't even belong to a church. But they talk as if they understand the heartbeat of the American church. Someone once said, "A big-shot is nothing but a little-shot a long way from home".

God bless you in your work there. Wherever you meet (it doesn't matter to God OR me), just teach the word and believe God for a move of the Spirit. I pray you will have a fruitful harvest.

Link H Posted - 01/31/2004 : 01:24:21
Dear James Bell,

Praise God for those who come to Christ through these churches you speak of. That is a good thing.

There is something to be said, though, for seeking to be obedient to Biblical teachings in terms of church organization, structure, how to meet, and in many other aspects of church life.

For example, I Corinthians 14 and Hebrews 10:24-25 indicate that we are to have meetings in which believers are free to speak and use their gifts. My experience with cells is that many of them follow the traditional, rather than Biblical patterns for church meetings in their cells, having one speaker and not giving the saints a chance ot use their gifts. Of course, that was many years ago, and I realize things are changing.

Obedience to the commands of Christ and the teachings of the apostles has value in and of itself. Many American's have the attitude 'if it works, do it.' This is pragmatic. If having a certain kind of church meeting or church structure 'works' to accomplish their goal, then they are all for it.

Sometimes the goals sound good, but should they really be our goals? For example, books have been written and seminars are given about how to grow a big church. Having a big church sounds like a noble goal. But is growing your church into a big mega-church the best thing for the kingdom of God? If the believers that join this church came from other, more healthy but less interesting churches, this isn't good.

Many preachers dream of having a large church the same way that a businessman who owns stores dreams of branching out into a huge franchise. Some of this is just ego gratification. Many Biblical elders caring for a flock may be more effective that one head pastor with a few assistance over a huge congregation (not to mention more Biblical.)

It is possible for someone who calls himself a brother who is a fornicator, adulterer, swindler, or idolater to go to a large church and get lost in the crowd. He can soothe his conscience by hearing preaching. With the lack of community and mutual accountability in many churches, he can simply hide his sin. The cell church movement offers solutions to the problem of lack of accounability and community similar to what the house church movement offers. But many in many cell churches, cells are optional. If they still follow traditional patterns of church in the cells, it is possible to continue on with a lack of community and deep relationships there as well.


One of the cell and house church missiologists, George Patterson, wrote of his experience in central America that their ministry started out by starting 'preaching stations' that didn't function like churches should. It wasn't clear who were believers and who weren't. Things like baptism and the Lord's Supper were neglected. People came together to hear sermons. Now, George Patterson promotes the idea of a church being a group of believers committed to obeying Christ who gather together.

Obedience to Christ must play a central part in the life of believers, and this should be reflected in our teaching. Christ wanted the apostles the nations to observe what things He had commanded them.

Many people involved in house churches are trying to return to obedience to scriptural teaching. This extends to how churches are organized, managed, and governed. The Bible gives us examples of how to spend church funds. The early church had collections for the poor. The verse about 'sowing and reaping' is about giving to the poor (saints in Judea.) The churches cared for widows, and the saints were also to care for those who preached the Gospel.

Are modern church financial priorities Biblical? Many churches spend over 80% of their budgets on a building and a pastor's salary.

The pastor system of the modern church just isn't in the Bible. The word 'pastors' shows up in the KJV, but that is a translation of a Greek word for 'shepherd' and not 'clergyman.' If you've been involved in cells, maybe you've seen people gifted to care for sheep and teach them who are not religious professionals.

The current religious system puts many people in the position of overseer who do not live up to the Biblical requirements. Young men, who are not 'elders' who have no experience running a household are put in charge of the household of faith. Many churches don't check to see that a man runs his house well, as long as he can speak well. Instead of having 'home grown' elders appointed from within the congregation, many churches hire religious professionals who graduate from professional schools.

If the New Testament teaches us to follow the apostles' teachings, and imitate their traditions, shouldn't this apply to the way churches are set up and operate?

Buildings are not my central concern. If a church has a building already paid for, that is different from borrowing money from a bank to buy a church, while not checking to even see if there are poor saints in our churches or in our communities.

Maybe you have had some bad experience with house churches. I suppose there are many weak house churches out there. I may have seen some of this myself. But I also see that house churches are on the 'cutting edge' in missions. Not that they are more exciting or dramatic than the big religious shows that are put on in larger churches. A lot of the work with unreached people groups is happening in house churches. I live in southeast Asia so my perspective may be a bit different. I know a man in the Atlanta area who was involved in planting several house churches who does a lot of ministry with drug addicts and things of that sort, as well. There is a lot of this kind of work going on in the US.

Americans tend to be pragmatic. I don't see any strong cultural reason that would make most of the unchurched HAVE to have a church building. Those that do need to be taught Biblical doctrine. The 'ediface complex' is a hinderance to spiritual health and the spread of the Gospel.


I don't know what you mean by this:
"To relegate any kind of ownership to the struggling house church movement is a stretch and...well, kind of sad."

Many in the house church movement wouldn't want to be 'owned' by anyone but the Lord. That is a part of their philosophy. There are no buildings to own, either.


-Link
James Bell Posted - 01/30/2004 : 08:59:27
No, I am not that James Bell, but the price of mediocrity is often being confused with others of the same name (LOL).

I guess house churches are sort of like home schooling. Those who do it believe in it. Sometimes they are defensive about it because many people think they are an aberration. I did look at the link you suggested. I live in Houston, and I have never seen a house church that was more than a rather sad attempt to prop up something that didn't work. But of course there must be some exceptions in some places. There always are.

But cells that are really reaching the world and discipling the church are being wonderfully used in thriving, growing congregations that have buildings, staffs, great worship services, etc. To relegate any kind of ownership to the struggling house church movement is a stretch and...well, kind of sad.

For example, in Houston lots of churches shoot at Second Baptist, one of our larger churches, or Lakewood, a charismatic mega-church. But each of them will baptize more people in a month than any "home" or "cell" church here even has members. Yet some of these people talk about how they are here for the un-churched. Well, the un-churched are being saved and baptized in the churches (in spite of their nice buildings) at a much higher rate than in the little home churches who crow about "being here for them". I have no axe to grind, really. I just am bothered by willful ignorance.

But on the other hand, anything we do for Christ has value. I applaud you following the leading of the Lord for your life. Just don't build a monument to a system instead of the Savior.
Link H Posted - 01/29/2004 : 17:23:53
Btw, you didn't happen to go to UGA and study English in the early 90's did you? I knew someone with your name there.


>> I appreciate your comments. It does make sense to reach people as effectively as you can. If meeting in a house is more effective where you (or anyone else) lives, then I say "go for it" and God bless you in your efforts.<

House churches are more effective in a lot of environments. Another approach is to do these things out of a desire to imitate the traditions of the apostles. Paul commanded his readers to follow his traditions.

From a pragmatic standpoint, the traditional that we must use church buildings seriously slow down the growth of the Gospel in a lot of parts of the world. Men gifted to evangelize and tend sheep get sidetracked by the pressure to build unnecessary physical structures.


>>The comment about the early church not meeting in buildings is really lame, though. They also did not have Sunday schools, play pianos, use the NASB (or any other translation), or have cell conferences.<<

I don't see Sunday School as essential to a healthy church. If the kids go to Sunday school while the parents are in church all the time, that can be unhealthy, imo. Epistles written to churches have portions addressed to children, indicating that children were present in the meeting to hear the instructions.

I don't believe that everything we do has to have a specific verse of scripture to back it up. But I do believe we should follow what instructions are actually there in the New Testament. The Bible also teaches us to follow apostolic example/tradition.

>> The comment about the "underground church rebelling against the traditional church" being a myth is true. There is no "movement" or "cause" in this kind of thing. Mostly just disgruntled old wineskins. The progressive cell efforts are in churches (most all of them with buildings, as if that matters)that embrace cells AND many other facets of ministry. The thought that a few people meeting in a house are spiritually superior or scripturally more authentic because there are not many of them and they don't like church buildings is at best cultic, and at worst moronic.<<

I am still not sure what you mean is the myth. Are you saying there are not a lot of house churches, or that there are not a lot of house churches who are in 'rebellion' as you call it?

Maybe you should do some research on house churches before you comment. There is a house church movement in the US and abroad. (There are house church conferences, too.) Maybe you have run across some disengrunted bitter people with a superior attitude. I went to a house church conference and didn't see many people with this kind of attitude. I have run across people with this attitude on the Internet, though. I would imagine there are enough of these people to constitute a 'movement.' But my experience is that the bitter ones don't reproduce and grow much. Usually the healthy mature Christians are the ones whose churches seem to grow the most.

House churches are growing in the US. There are people planting house churches trying to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Someone estimated there might be a million HC people in the US. I doubt that figure, but the numbers are growing. The New York Times did an article on house churches a few years back. I ran into the man they interviewed at a house church conference.

In missions, house churches are growing rapidly throughout the world. I dropped in on a HC retreat here in Indonesia. I talked with some brothers who were doing work on the other side of Java. I don't even know how many house churches one of the men there planted. I think it would be difficult for him to count them. House churches are probably the fasted growing 'kind' of church.

If you want to learn about house churches, run a search on the Internet. Maybe check out www.homechurch.org or check out the Church Planting Movements on the Baptist IMB site. The Baptists are getting behind house churches in missions, which is unusually because typically HC's like this are non-denominational, but a lot of HC people are not affiliated with denominations.




-Link
James Bell Posted - 01/28/2004 : 17:43:55
Link, I appreciate your comments. It does make sense to reach people as effectively as you can. If meeting in a house is more effective where you (or anyone else) lives, then I say "go for it" and God bless you in your efforts.

The comment about the early church not meeting in buildings is really lame, though. They also did not have Sunday schools, play pianos, use the NASB (or any other translation), or have cell conferences. That does not really mean anything. Something is going on at our church building every night, and almost every day. To make this some kind of shibboleth is absurd.

The comment about the "underground church rebelling against the traditional church" being a myth is true. There is no "movement" or "cause" in this kind of thing. Mostly just disgruntled old wineskins. The progressive cell efforts are in churches (most all of them with buildings, as if that matters)that embrace cells AND many other facets of ministry. The thought that a few people meeting in a house are spiritually superior or scripturally more authentic because there are not many of them and they don't like church buildings is at best cultic, and at worst moronic. Just an opinion. But shared by millions of Christians, I think.

But your other points are well taken, and I wish you well in your ministry there. God bless you!
Link H Posted - 01/22/2004 : 09:13:42
[quote]Originally posted by James Bell

>>Here is a point you won't often hear... The credibility of the church in this country is at an all time low. To many of the un-churched, meeting only in homes and shunning public buildings sounds like a cult. There are all kinds of building options. Our church met in in a tent for 18 months. But you need a central place of worship if you are to be credible in this country.<<


Why would any church want to meet in a church building? If homes were good enough for the early chruch, why aren't they good enough for us? Church buildings are expensive. Many sanctuaries sit unused for all but maybe 8 or so hours a week. A lot of costs go into a church building: construction costs, cost of air conditioning, and many other things, though the building is usually only used for a few hours. Is this good stewardship of funds? We don't even have scriptural precedent for using funds to build church buildings for believers in Christ to meet in.

As for legitimacy, I don't think that is a real issue in the US. If someone is completely unchurched, why would he see a house church as illegitimate. Christians who are really influenced by traditions about church buildings are the ones who sometimes see house church as illegitimate. They assume their experience is supposed to be normative. The ironic thing is Christians with this attitude often accept the idea of Chinese house churches, but not American house churches.

An unbeliever who forms a relationship with a believer who goes to a house church, hears the Gospel, believes, and starts attending the house church with the one who won him to the Lord will probably not think he is in a cult because he is in a house. He will have relationships with people there. It's hard to think of people you know well and serve the Lord well with as a cult.

Hosue churches in the US are growing. I've met some hypercritical types on the Internet over the years that were into house churches, but I haven't bumped into them in a long time. I went to a couple of house church conferences and was really impressed with the people who attended. It was like attending a conference full of missionaries or other ministers who were mature in the Lord and really knew the Bible.

>> The myth of the "underground house church", rebelling against the institution of church life is just that...a myth. The churches that are growing, overflowing, and experiencing glorious abundant life.........have buildings. Some of the dark, dank, hyper-critical groups that call themselves "house churches" are a little scary.<<

I do not know what you mean by this. When you say the underground house church is a myth, do you mean it doesn't exist? You turn right around and talk about 'house churches' that you consider scary so you must acknowledge that they exist.

I wouldn't doubt there are some cultish house churches out there. I don't think house churches are especially more dangerous for false teaching. There are plenty of institutional church preachers who spout false doctrine in large gatherings, and even on TV, and peopel flock to them. Church buildings are not to blame for false teachings, but neither is meeting in homes. At least in a house church (that has somewhat Biblical meetings) there is often a chance for the teaching to be tested by the congregation, since they saints can use their gifts to speak to minister to the body. Also, since the meetings are small, if a house church is cultic, the teachers in it may have a small audience anyway.

Overall, I think the tradition of having church buildings slows down the spread of the Gospel. Especially here in a country like Indonesia, where there is so much 'frontier' for the Gospel in the villages where there are no churches. One reason Paul and Barnabas could reach so many cities with the Gospel, with churches starting as a result, is that they did not have to waste time building church buildings.

>> I know there are exceptions to the rule, but perceptions can be powerful when trying to reach the un-churched.<<

I have never had an experience with someone who is truly unchurched who thought meeting in homes was illegitimate. I can understand why a nominal Christian who grew up in a religious tradition _might_ have a problem with this. But nowadays, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and various other traditional traditions have some activities in homes. I don't think having a building adds much legitimacy in the eyes of unbelievers.


-Link
Link H Posted - 01/22/2004 : 08:55:11
There are plenty of people in the house church movement doing what you describe, or something similar. I am writing a book on house church planting, focusing on Indonesia. It is mostly about Biblical examples and doctrine relating to church planting and how these churches should function. I moderate a list called New Testament Church Planting http://world-missions.org/planting if you want to join and discuss these issues with some people doing this kind of work. Maybe you will wake the list up. Though it is a pretty big list, it goes through periods of inactivity, like now.

I know a young man here in Indonesia who planted a church by ministering to a woman, and then her family and friends, and their family and friends. Donald MacGravan called these kind of relationships 'bridges of God.' A lot of new believers are often asking for prayer for unsaved loved ones. Building up relationships with these people's families and winning them to the Lord can lead to a lot of soul winning for those gifted to do this kind of ministry.

My friend who planted this church was in a home with a Bible study, when the members suggested installing him as pastor in a 'church' that met in a rented building. He wants to lead them back to meeting in a home, but they have grown from some members that came from a church split in a 'traditional' Charismatic church, and switching over may be slow. Before he was in the building-centered situation, it seemed like he did more real ministry to people that matched his gifts.

The Southern Baptists IMB site has a book called Church Planting Movements, by David Garrison. He writes of success in India planting churches by sending church planters to a 'man of peace' (Luke 10)-- a friend or relative in another area willing to offer hospitality and hear their message. From there, they ministered to the man of peace's relatives, friends, and neighbors, and networked that way to plant churches. The churches associated with William Carey were few in number but the number of believers grew many times due to following these Biblical principles of church planting.

A friend of mine who works with unreached people groups told me what an AOG church planting director in this country said about their evangelistic work. They send someone out to plant a church. A lot of good evangelism goes on. Then, at some point, the number of believers grow to a certain number, and they start trying to get set up in a building. At that point, the evangelism drops off dramatically. Maybe they are busy with financial proposals and building-centered, program centered Christianity.

If you want to get a draft copy of my book on house church planting, email me at linkh@mfire###.com without the number signs and put "Request CP Book" in the subject line. (I can share it now. I don't know about if it gets published later, for those who read this later on.)
Link H Posted - 01/22/2004 : 08:54:08
There are plenty of people in the house church movement doing what you describe, or something similar. I am writing a book on house church planting, focusing on Indonesia. It is mostly about Biblical examples and doctrine relating to church planting and how these churches should function. I moderate a list called New Testament Church Planting http://world-missions.org/planting if you want to join and discuss these issues with some people doing this kind of work. Maybe you will wake the list up. Though it is a pretty big list, it goes through periods of inactivity, like now.

I know a young man here in Indonesia who planted a church by ministering to a woman, and then her family and friends, and their family and friends. Donald MacGravan called these kind of relationships 'bridges of God.' A lot of new believers are often asking for prayer for unsaved loved ones. Building up relationships with these people's families and winning them to the Lord can lead to a lot of soul winning for those gifted to do this kind of ministry.

My friend who planted this church was in a home with a Bible study, when the members suggested installing him as pastor in a 'church' that met in a rented building. He wants to lead them back to meeting in a home, but they have grown from some members that came from a church split in a 'traditional' Charismatic church, and switching over may be slow. Before he was in the building-centered situation, it seemed like he did more real ministry to people that matched his gifts.

The Southern Baptists IMB site has a book called Church Planting Movements, by David Garrison. He writes of success in India planting churches by sending church planters to a 'man of peace' (Luke 10)-- a friend or relative in another area willing to offer hospitality and hear their message. From there, they ministered to the man of peace's relatives, friends, and neighbors, and networked that way to plant churches. The churches associated with William Carey were few in number but the number of believers grew many times due to following these Biblical principles of church planting.

A friend of mine who works with unreached people groups told me what an AOG church planting director in this country said about their evangelistic work. They send someone out to plant a church. A lot of good evangelism goes on. Then, at some point, the number of believers grow to a certain number, and they start trying to get set up in a building. At that point, the evangelism drops off dramatically. Maybe they are busy with financial proposals and building-centered, program centered Christianity.

If you want to get a draft copy of my book on house church planting, email me at linkh@mfire###.com without the number signs and put "Request CP Book" in the subject line. (I can share it now. I don't know about if it gets published later, for those who read this later on.)

-Link
The Church Next Door Posted - 12/28/2003 : 01:06:34
We a planting from scratch. Currently have one cell and have been running two share (outreach) groups in 2003. Pretty similar to your idea Darriel with celebrations and the like.

I didn't think you meant that each cell as it grows out would be autonomous of each other?

Our plan is for cell leaders to connect relatonally with some G-12 type undertones!

Even though we love large group meetings we are hesitant to ever instituite weekly Sunday Services as such, but to have corporate gatherings maybe fortnightly-monthly. We want to be creative with these, sometimes meeting at a campsite, park, beach or whatever, not just in a building.



we too are very interested to hear from others starting from the beginning working primarily at converting communites. As it is very different starting cells in existing church or breakaway group.

James Bell Posted - 11/07/2003 : 12:04:26
Here is a point you won't often hear... The credibility of the church in this country is at an all time low. To many of the un-churched, meeting only in homes and shunning public buildings sounds like a cult. There are all kinds of building options. Our church met in in a tent for 18 months. But you need a central place of worship if you are to be credible in this country. The myth of the "underground house church", rebelling against the institution of church life is just that...a myth. The churches that are growing, overflowing, and experiencing glorious abundant life.........have buildings. Some of the dark, dank, hyper-critical groups that call themselves "house churches" are a little scary. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but perceptions can be powerful when trying to reach the un-churched.
ruach Posted - 09/16/2003 : 00:32:05
That is kind of what we are doing. With the exception that we don't intend to stay as single cells but that the cells will have relationship with one another both in ministry and in fellowship. We do intend to disregard the investment in buildings. Everything that can be done from the home will be. Including training sessions and weekends. We plan on coming together for a day of celebration, worship, prayer and edification (don't forget food ) but we don't know how often yet. Our heart is to take the resources, both human and financial, that are often taken up by buildings and sow them back into the Kingdom.
Randall Neighbour Posted - 09/08/2003 : 02:32:29
Darriel:

What you're describing sounds like the ministry model that DOVE is helping churches do. They've really gotten busy in the "microchurch" arena. I'm not sure if their website has anything on it yet, but if you want to visit their site it can be found at:

http://www.dcfi.org

I also found a book on their website that might be helpful to you:

http://dcfi.org/House2House/House_Church_Networks.htm

My wife and I would like to plant a homogenious cell-based microchurch in the next year or so here in Houston.

Randall Neighbour
TOUCH. The Cell Group People.
johnbanton Posted - 09/07/2003 : 15:52:52
Hey Darriel,
I noticed no-one had replied to your post...hope you don't mind me posting to your question.

I dont know of anyone who is starting from zero in cells here in Australia with a plan to remain as single cells only, at least not in the circles I know.

I took over as pastor in a newly planted cell church that had a few cells and a Sunday morning worship service. Although the church had a rented facility there seemed to be some stagnation and loss of focus on outreach. We recently moved out of our building and into a community centre (I know thats the opposite to what most people do )but it is helping us to become a presence in the community.

I think it has also helped our church (some new and some longer term Christians) to renew an outward focus....we are planting in one of Sydney's more challenged suburbs. While we dont plan to move into a bigger building, we do plan to plant cells into other nearby community centres and start a network of sister congreggations who can meet together (perhaps monthy).

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