Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a variety of discussions about house/organic/simple church. I’ve referenced and even shared with others my original article on “Why House Churches?” I thought I’d repost it here…
why house churches?
Jesus modeled for His followers a God-honoring life 24/7. To often we compartmentalize our lives into boxes—a “work” box, a “family” box, an “emotional” box, an “intellectual” box, a “spiritual” box, etc. Jesus loved and lived as a whole person and encouraged His followers to do the same. . .
Jesus said, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
The early followers of Jesus lived out their lives loving God and loving people. They did it in the “everydayness” of their lives. They saw it in Jesus and began living it too. They didn’t stop living to follow Jesus. They brought Jesus into their living. So at a pragmatic level, they used the things that were already present in their life to follow Him.
The followers of Jesus were spiritual families—also called “churches.” These churches were the collection of followers of Jesus who lived in community with each other. They didn’t go out and find a building to become a church. The group was already “living as the church” together. They used the everyday stuff of life—their houses—to provide a place to gather the people.
We desire the same—to live in community with each other and to bring Jesus into our living. We long to love God and love people in the “everydayness” of our lives. We gather into our spiritual families in our houses—because it is something God gave us and we ought to use for His purposes. We are not about “houses.” We are about being the Church together.
Maybe you want to go a little deeper than this. The next section examines what the Bible records about the early followers of Jesus and what they called –“the church that meets in your house.” We are shortening that phrase and calling them “house churches.”
the Bible & house churches
This biblical tour will give an introductory sentence or two, then a statement directly from the Bible (in the NIV– New International Version). These statements speak volumes about how the initial followers of Jesus lived in the first century. The challenge is on the table as to how we will live nearly 20 centuries later.
Let’s look. . .
The early followers of Jesus gathered in a house together right after Jesus went up to be with his Father. They were living out “church life” even before having the Holy Spirit
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:13-14
They received the Holy Spirit in a house
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4
Eating together—it doesn’t get much more ordinary than eating—but eating together in homes was an important part of their lives together.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Acts 2:46
The good news of Jesus was talked about in their homes . . .daily.
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 5:42
Saul (who later becomes Paul and writes half of the New Testament) sought to wreck the church. He went to homes—to those following Jesus in the “everydayness.” He didn’t burn books or a building. Instead, he dragged off people . . . because people are what the church is about.
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:3
Peter’s miraculous release from prison was being prayed for by a gathering of his spiritual family in a house. Read the whole story in Acts 12 . . .it is amazing.
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Acts 12:12
After Lydia embraced Jesus, Paul and company stayed at her house. Then days later, after Paul and Silas were released from jail, they went to her house for a “spiritual family” meeting.
“If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. Acts 16:14
After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left. Acts 16:40
Paul focused on telling the truth about Jesus in the synagogue, but when he was opposed and abused, he went to an everyday place—the house next door.
Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Acts 18:7
Again, Paul focused on telling the truth about Jesus and His teachings. Paul told it everywhere: public spaces and private ones.
You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. Acts 20:20
In the personal greeting section of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he sends a special greeting . . . to a house church.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Romans 16:3-5
Now that house church of Aquila and Pricilla’s sends a special greeting . . . to the church in Corinth.
The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 1 Corinthians 16:19
Another special greeting to a house church—
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. Colossians 4:15
This letter to Philemon was also addressed to the house church . . . because it asks Philemon to do some difficult things and Paul wants them all to know. Read the whole letter to figure it out.
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home: Philemon 1:1-2
That’s the end of this Biblical tour. The conclusions are pretty obvious. Hopefully this was helpful for your understanding . . . now you have to do something about it. What will you do?
© 2002 Mike Jentes and thequest
Originally posted at http://thequestcolumbus.com/origins.html
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