By Jim Searcy
I hope that all of you understand that in writing about house churches that I have no intent whatsoever to attack institutional churches. Certainly the pastors of institutional churches need our collective prayer coverage from the corporate Body of Christ as much or more than any other group of people in the Body of Messiah.
There are many great men of God who pastor institutional churches who are doing everything they can within their structures to please the Lord. I know how difficult their jobs are. No man in his right mind would ever attempt such a job unless they were certain of the Lordís calling.
The house church model is one that is BIBLICAL and that has been proven through the history of the church to be much more effective making disciples and expanding Godís kingdom. I have little doubt that the large majority of institutional pastors would be much happier and more effective in a house church setting.
Many people who first hear of house churches incorrectly think that the only difference between house churches and institutional churches is their size and their relative abilities to provide ministry. People sometimes conclude that the house church cannot offer the quality of ministry provided by churches with buildings. However, when we understand ministry to be whatever would make or cause disciples to grow in more Christ likeness, then the house church may be seen to have some definite real advantages.
The purpose of the church is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Making disciples is THE Purpose. We are to BE and MAKE DISCIPLES. A disciple is a disciplined one. How is what is being done in any church contributing to the process of making disciples who will obey ALL of the Lordís commandments? That is THE question regarding what is done in any church. In regard to this purpose it would be good to see the real advantages which the house church has.
The institutional church really has no advantage in regard to equipping saints for the work of the ministry. This is particularly true in this antichrist war on the saints. The house church may not be able to provide the many different activities of the institutional church. However, what is biblical, regarding the Lordís purposes, for the church that we find in the more sure word? In that light, the house church is by no measure seen to be substandard to the institutional church. Generally the house church in that light, is clearly seen to be BETTER than the institutional church. Yes, in terms of providing true ministry as defined by the bible, the house church is better than the institutional church.
Some people reject house churches as being true churches just because they do not have an actual church building. However, the scriptures and history verifies that at any time during the first three hundred years of the church, believers would have rejected every single church building in the world as not being a real church. The fact is that Jesus declared, For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst, (Matt. 18:20). Jesus said nothing about WHERE believers must gather. And even if there are only two believers, He promised to be present if they gather in His name. What Messiahís disciples often do in restaurants, sharing a meal and exchanging truth, teaching and admonishing one another, is actually closer to the New Testament model of church gatherings than what often happens in many church buildings on Sunday mornings.
If there is one thing we should learn as we live in such obvious days of great apostasy, is that we should question EVERYTHING we have been taught in the light of the More Sure word of God written in the KJV Holy Bible. It is natural to be proud of our traditions which play upon our vanity. It is so easy to forget that God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Certainly the house church will be humble in comparison to the institutional church.
The goal of becoming more disciplined disciples, so that we may be better equipped to make disciples, is the great commission of all disciples. The teaching, learning, and preaching of the more sure word of God, is the means by which disciples are made. Preach the WORD; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, APT to teach; Study to show thyself approved UNTO GOD, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY dividing the word of truth.
We should understand that our responsibility to learn and teach the Word is not accomplished by one hour attendance somewhere on Sunday morning. ALL of us should understand that our teaching and learning responsibility is primarily fulfilled by the life we live and the example we set. This is why the BIBLE qualifications for deacons, pastors, elders, overseers, and bishops, relates to character. It is never see to be a matter of where did you go to seminary. Where do we find preacher schools or seminaries in the more sure written word of God? One of the New Testament commandments is to be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. A full 94% of the BIBLICAL qualifications for deacons, pastors, teachers, elders, overseers, and bishops, are about CHARACTER and manner of living.
Give attendance to READING, to exhortation, to doctrine, meditating on the more sure written word of God, give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. I Tim 4. & 1 Pet 5. Our example speaks so much more powerfully than our sermons. Our example of denying ourselves and following Messiah by our obedience is what truly will inspire others to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is a sad reality that our infiltrated seminaries and bible schools teach that pastors should never get too close to their congregation. How does this institutional church pattern match up with the Good Shepherd in The Gospel? Thinking about the life of Messiah with His disciples will reveal something is very wrong with the way things are so often done in the modern institutional church. Yeshua was so close with the twelve that one of them felt quite comfortable leaning his head on His chest at the Last Supper Passover. The twelve apostles literally lived together for several years. That is the polar opposite of what is taught in the Jesuit infiltrated seminaries that teach that the pastor is not to be too close with his congregation in order to successfully minister to them.
If we genuinely love the Lord, and if we know the evidence of that love is manifest by our obedience, then we want to Be AND Make disciples. Should we not also be wise to follow His methods for making disciples? We have actually gotten very far removed, even to the opposite pole, from the example of the Lord and the apostles who followed Him. It should really be no mystery why modern institutional methods of making disciples are NOT working. Today many surveys and statistics regarding so-called American Christians consistently show that there is virtually NO difference in the lifestyles of most professing Christians when compared to non-Christians.
How did the early church succeed so well at making disciples without any church buildings, no formally educated clergy, no bible colleges, no seminaries, no hymnals, no big screens, no overhead projectors, no microphones, no Sunday school curriculums, no youth ministries, no worship teams, no radio and TV programs, no Christian books, and without even having a personal bible for each church member??? They were obviously MUCH more successful at making disciples. How did they do it? How? Without any of those things the institutional church has, how could those churches of the first three centuries be so successful at making disciples? May I say, if none of those things were essential then, that THOSE THINGS ARE NOT ESSENTIAL NOW. Let me be clear on one point. If those house churches of the first three centuries could have had it as easy for all to have KJV Holy Bibles for all of the members of those house churches, they would have been even more successful. However, we know that with NONE of those things that the modern institutional church thinks and teaches to be essential, that those house churches of the first three centuries were incomparably MORE successful at making DISCIPLES of the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth is that many of the things the institutional church believes to be so essential, actually do hinder us from making disciples.
In the house churches of the first three centuries it was an unimaginable concept to believe it essential to have only formally educated bible college trained pastors to lead churches. In some cities, after Paul planted churches, he left for a few months, and then returned to appoint elders to oversee them. Please be sure to read and think about the example of the preeminent disciple making Apostle Paul in Acts 13:14-14:23:
DO WE SEE IN ACTS 13 & 14 HOW WHEN PAUL LEFT THESE NEW BELIEVERS THAT THEY HAD NO FORMAL LEADERSHIP OR ELDERS FOR MONTHS? We should be able to see that when Paul returned to appoint elders that they were fairly young believers. They had nothing close to a two to four year formal education that prepared them for their job as an elder in the church. Yes, the Holy Bible clearly teaches that pastors, elders, overseers, and bishops do NOT need two or more years of formal education to be effective in their ministry. They need the Holy Ghost. No one can intelligently argue against that fact. Nevertheless, the institutional church in so many different ways affirms this modern requirement continually. If there is one certain thing the institutional church hammers, it is that if anyone would presume to be a leader in the church, they will need years of formal education. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS. One thing that is certain is that this will SLOW DOWN the process of making disciples. Yes, this most certainly does slow the growth of the church.
One of the main reasons the job of the modern institutional church pastor is so difficult and complicated is because the entire system of church structure, and ministry, is so far removed from the biblical model. Pastoring in the modern institutional church is so complex that very few supermen can survive its demands! Some might say, are you not concerned that an untrained overseer would lead into false teaching? To that I would say, such are LESS likely to lead that way because they are more likely to rely completely and totally on the KJV Holy Bible. It sure did not seem to be a concern of the Apostle Paul.
Today the institutional church seminaries are full of professors and students who do NOT believe in the virgin birth, who approve of homosexuality, who teach that God wants everyone to have a big house and fancy new car, and would say without any hesitation that one may get to heaven without repentance of obedience to The Lord Jesus Christ. In these last days of great apostasy, the truth is that one is more likely to find false doctrine in the modern institutional church seminary than in the local coffee shop. The modern seminary in this time of the great apostasy advances and teaches false doctrine. Then the professional clergy further advance the false doctrines taught in the seminaries.
Many people have said they tried reading the KJV Holy Bible, but stopped, because what they were reading was so different than what their pastor had told them. They thought they could not possibly understand the Holy Bible. After all, the professional, who had been to seminary, taught them quite different than what they were reading in the Holy Bible.
Another thing we see in todayís institutional church is how that the seminary trained professionals exalt the superiority of their particular doctrines over the other institutional churches. Yes, that is part of seminary training, to define and divide the body of Christ by their distinctive doctrines from the other churches. Why our church is better than your church is a major part of training and what is preached in the institutional churches, rather than preaching the Word and making disciples. They exalt their unusual, distinguishing, different, characteristic doctrines. Much advertising of their differences is done with their signs in front of their church buildings. It seems the whole institutional church system loves to boast why they are NOT like those other Christian churches. The institutional churches are quick to label anyone who disagrees with their unchallengeable and divisive doctrines as being divisive. If it were not so sad it would be funny.
What sort of disciple making do we see in such typical institutional churches? Is this the way Jesus and the Apostles did it? Is this how the Lord said all will know we are His disciples? We know how most today, in moving to a new town, will seek to find their church home. Most will seek an institutional church based upon particular doctrines which they have previously been taught, by some professional clergyman, which is the right theology. Sadly, within the institutional churches this has become the most important thing. Sadly, theological distinctions have become more important than the right lifestyle. This is at least in part because the biblical model has been abandoned.
Would I suggest that people who have only been converted for six months be given oversight over churches? Yes, that is exactly what Paul did. I would certainly make this pre-requisite before one would be called an elder - that they would have a testimony that would stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that they have read the KJV Holy Bible the way God said it SHOULD be read. EVERY WORD of the KJV Holy Bible having been read, in order, in context, precept upon precept, line upon line, every word, straight through, from Gen 1:1-Rev 22:21. I would prefer they had two such disciplined readings of the KJV Holy Bible, but I would rather have such a one with one such trip, than someone with a trip through the modern infiltrated institutional church seminary.
I would still insist upon the BIBLICAL requirements regarding the LIFESTYLE required of elders in the KJV Holy Bible. However, such credentials and qualifications require less than six months to obtain and verify for anyone truly called. We are called to preach and teach THE WORD. The house churches such a one should be appointed to oversee must follow the BIBLICAL model. That is, those churches must first of all be newly-planted gatherings that are submitted to a mature founding minister, such as an elder, who can provide some oversight. That way, the newly-appointed elders are not entirely on their own.
Yes, without any hesitation, I would prefer someone with just one or two disciplined readings cover to cover, every word, the way God said, Gen 1:1-Rev 22:21 of the KJV Holy Bible than one filled with the teaching of the modern infiltrated seminaries. And yes, I would still insist upon the BIBLICAL requirements of the would be elder regarding LIFESTYLE required of elders in the KJV Holy Bible. However, such credentials and qualifications require less than six months to obtain and verify for anyone truly called.
We are called to preach and teach THE WORD. The house churches such a one should be appointed to oversee must follow the BIBLICAL model. That is, those churches must first of all be newly-planted gatherings that are submitted to a mature founding minister, such as an elder, who can provide some oversight. That way, the newly-appointed elders are not entirely on their own.
Second, the congregations must be small enough to meet in homes, as did the early churches. That makes churches much easier to administer. That is probably why one of the requirements for elders and overseers is that they successfully manage their own households. Managing a small household of faith is not much more challenging than managing a family.
Also, the congregation must consist of people who have responded in REPENTANCE and faith in the BIBLICAL gospel, meaning they are genuine disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. That eliminates all of the challenges that arise from trying to pastor sheep who are actually goats. The pastors, or elders, or overseers must follow their biblical role rather than a cultural role. That means that they are not to strive for, or be seeking the sort of central, important, preeminent or spotlight position, as is typically found in the modern institutional church. Lifestyle requirement would rather find those called to be single parts of the entire body. Such would be humble servants who teach by EXAMPLE as well as precept. Their obvious goal is seen to BE and MAKE disciples. They should not have a goal of being a great one hour per week orator. Their goal should be FOLLOWING and getting to know better the methods and way of Jesus.
Buildings consume lots of time and lots of money. The borrower is servant to the lender. What is really being taught by a church mortgage? It is certainly NOT teaching BIBLICAL good stewardship. It is NOT teaching that God wants to have His people to be free from debt to be free to serve Him. Only cults and false religions build buildings to only be used for a couple of hours per week. It really is amazing how few see what is wrong with the big expensive church buildings which are 90% empty and not used over 90% of the time. The church building mortgage requires a pastor to have a flow of money that very often will lead to a path of compromise and loss of faith. The church mortgage will tempt the pastor to be a respecter of persons which is sin. There is no record of any congregation buying or constructing a building in the book of Acts. For the most part, believers met regularly in homes. There were never any collections for building funds. There are no instructions in the epistles for church building construction. No one thought of building a church building until Christianity was 300 years old, when the church married the world, under the edicts of the FIRST POPE, the Supreme Pontiff, Roman Emperor Constantine.
The first 300 years of Church history, as well as the Biblical record, is VOID of any record of any sort of church building. Yet, the church flourished and multiplied exponentially, even during times of intense persecution. All without any buildings.
Such phenomena have been repeated many times in the centuries that followed. The house church movement in China is perhaps the best recent example. I would recommend everyone get a copy of Brother Yunís testimony, in the book called The Heavenly Man, written by Paul Hattaway. There are probably well over a million house churches in China.
The truth of history is the same as what we find in the scriptures regarding church buildings. Church buildings not only are NOT essential to making disciples but in fact hinder disciple making. Throughout the centuries disciple making flourished better without church buildings.
Meeting in houses as all churches did in the centuries before the first pope Constantine, provided an environment for genuine spiritual growth for believers. Members of Christís body felt like participators rather than spectators. In the house churches everyone tries to face everyone else rather than just looking at the back of the people seated in front of them. The atmosphere of the house church especially when the gathering would include a common meal, promotes transparency, genuine depth in church relationship, and true fellowship and love rather than the feigned affection polished in the institutional churches.
Teachings in house churches often include question and answer sessions. The teaching is almost always open to discussions as among equals. This is much more conducive to disciple making than the institutional church lecture style even if the lecturer has funny unusual fancy clothes. House church pastors often do not prepare a weekly sermon, and frequently encourage any man who has received a revelation, or a teaching from the Holy Spirit to share that teaching with the house church group. Disciple making is generally seen to be better in the house church BIBLICAL model.
When a house church becomes crowded the elders do not think of getting a bigger building and going into debt. The house church knows it is time to split into two house meetings. Generally there will still be seasonal gatherings of several house churches at a park or farm for maintaining relationships. Normally it is just following the leading of the Spirit regarding where the new meeting should be held and who should be elders and overseers. The two or three new house churches then also have the opportunity to reach out in a new area to demonstrate to unbelievers that Christians in the house church are recognized to be His disciples by the way He said they would be known to be His disciples. They will show all men they are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ by how they love one another. They can invite unbelievers to their house meetings as easy as inviting them over for a meal. The more closely we follow the biblical pattern, the more effective we will be in accomplishing Godís goal of being and making disciples. There are great hindrances to disciple-making in churches today because of unbiblical structures and practices.
Millions of house churches exist all over the world. Without question house churches have some great definite advantages over institutional churches.
Churches that meet in special buildings are not to be found in the New Testament. The scripture makes it clear that the churches about which we read in the New Testament were house churches. Here are just a few of the many scripture proofs that the house churches are the BIBLICAL model:
Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,
Rom 16:5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
1 Cor 16:19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Phile 1:2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
Some might think that the only reason the early church did not build church buildings is because the church was still in her infancy. But that infancy lasted through the whole time of the apostles and HUNDREDS of years after the ministry of the apostles had passed. To think that building church buildings would be a sign of church maturity would be to think that the churches of which the apostles were part, and of which we read in Acts were not or did not mature.
The great commission is to MAKE DISCIPLES Ė not to build buildings where people can come to hear a sermon for an hour or two each week. It could also be seen that building church buildings could be AGAINST the Lordís instruction not to lay up treasures on the earth. The Lord picked up the fragments of the loaves that nothing be wasted. I really can not imagine Him or the apostles wasting money on something that was entirely unnecessary. There are some ways in which church buildings may be seen to be the antithesis of good stewardship.
The house church model promotes godly good stewardship of its memberís resources. This in and of itself is an extremely important aspect of discipleship. No money is wasted on church buildings, owning, renting, repairing, expanding, remodeling, heating or cooling them. Consequently, what would have been wasted on buildings can be used to feed and clothe the poor, spread the gospel, and make disciples, exactly as was made clear in the book of Acts. Think of the good that could have been done for Godís kingdom if the billions of dollars spent on church buildings had been used for spreading the gospel and serving the poor!
House churches that consist of no more than twenty people can be administered by non-paid elders, pastors and bishops. This is especially true when there are a number of mature believers in a house church is less than twenty. We should remember that the Lord Himself had only TWELVE apostles. House churches of this sort would require very little money or no money. With the coming of the 666 beast mark, without which no man may buy or sell, this becomes an even more important consideration.
The Bible witness is clear that elders, pastors, missionaries, and bishops should be paid according to their work. The word of God makes clear that all secular labor is to be justly compensated. How much more-so should the principle apply in the household of faith toward those who must give an account for the souls in their responsible charge. Those who devote their full time to ministry should make their full living from it. 1 Tim 5:17-18 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Ten wage earners in a house church who tithe can support one pastor at their average standard of living. Five people that tithe in a house church can free up a pastor to devote half his work week to his ministry.
Following the house church model, money that would be used on buildings is freed to support pastors, and so institutional pastors should not think that the proliferation of house churches threatens their job security. Rather, it could mean that many other men and women could realize the desire God has placed in their hearts to serve Him in the work of the ministry. All should recognize how this would facilitate accomplishing the goal of making disciples. The house church with twenty wage earners could potentially give one half of its income to mission outreach and the poor.
There is no reason to think the typical institutional church could not or should not become a united group of house churches. House churches do not need child and youth ministers because parents are given that responsibility in the Bible. 1 Tim 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) In the house churches one will find the parentís duty to properly discipline their children, and the childrenís duty to honor their father and mother happens much more effectively, simply because the BIBLICAL church model is being followed. People in house churches generally strive to follow the Bible rather than what is considered tolerable or normal in the larger institutional churches. There is no reason why Christian children and teens who do not have Christian parents should not be brought in to be part of the house churches. Often one will find the discipline and discipleship growth of the youth in a house church to be superior to the institutional churches. This is again just something that is more likely to happen because of the biblical model is being followed more closely in the house churches.
One simply does not find in the Bible such things as youth ministers. These are modern advancements which did not exist just 60 years ago. Have Christian youth, as a collective group, become more Christlike, or less Christlike, in the last 60 years? Is the percentage larger or smaller, of Christian teens experimenting with drugs and premarital sex than 60 years ago? Of courseI am by no means inferring these problems are inherent in the institutional church, or that they would be totally solved by the house churches. However, I do know the statistics on these issues FAVOR the house church.
If we think about it, it should be easy to understand why house churches excel at making disciples of children and teenagers. It is simply NOT true that institutional churches could provide better disciple making because of their larger entertainment possibilities and activity facilities for young people. Often one finds the larger the youth ministry the less effective it will be making disciples. Fun and games is not how disciples are made.
I would simply challenge anyone to show me where in the Scriptures it is the responsibility for the youth minister, or anyone other than the parents are accountable to God for making disciples of their children. It is sad but large institutional churches are often found to lead parents to believe that someone other than the parent could be or should be accountable for the disciple making of their children. Often parents are somehow lead to believe the trained professional youth minister staff is better equipped to make disciples of their children than the parents. It is a certainty this fallacy is reinforced in any school system other than home schooling. The system leads to disaster for so many because it is so far removed from Biblical truth. The fact that children say they have a great good time at church does not necessarily mean that church is helping them to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Often it is just the opposite.
The purpose of the Purpose Driven Church is Self-idolatry and NOT the making of disciples. The purpose of the Church Growth movement is just growth in numbers and not necessarily growth in discipleship. Does fun and games lead to REPENTANCE and FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ? Youth group success in the institutional church is measured only in numbers, NOT discipleship. Youth ministers are forced to do whatever will bring more numbers, and that will lead to compromise and NOT disciple making. Most youth ministers who bring a convicting message to lead to repentance and faith to the young people will find themselves in big trouble in the many large institutional churches. The kids will complain to the parents, and the parents will tell the senior pastor the kids did not have fun, and the faithful youth minister gets disciplined because he was trying to make disciples rather than have the kids have fun.
It is difficult for me to imagine any genuinely called youth minister that would not bloom, bless, and be blessed to be a house church leader. After all, the Lord said we MUST become as a child to see, enter, function, and even stay in His Kingdom:
Mat 18:4 Whosoever
therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the
kingdom of heaven.
Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
Luke 18:17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
I believe that the majority of youth ministers become youth ministers because that is the required first step for them to climb the ladder of success in the institutional church structure to become a senior pastor.
It happens as a rule that children and teenagers are better discipled in house churches because the house church is the true biblical experience of Christian community. The young people participate and ask great question and learn proper and biblical ways to relate to people of other ages, which is quite different than the fun and games learning style of the institutional church.
Yes, little babies cry. They do that because they need something that the parent can provide. It is much easier for the parent to temporarily leave the house church gathering for a few minutes of attention to the need of the crying baby. The disturbance of the crying baby is a big deal in a big institutional church formal service. The crying baby is really not that big of a deal in the house church informal service. Some young children find it difficult to sit still. How come that difficulty is not so obvious in front of a favorite tv or video game? Most of those with the restless problem seem to do quite well with paper and crayons on the floor.
Parents whose children are uncontrolled can by example be taught by the other parents what they need to know to establish the proper discipline and proper honoring of the parents by the children. Correction and learning rather than gossip is the expected norm in the house church by comparison to the large institutional church. The love is simply more genuine and less feigned in the house church.
I also believe that most pastors would be much more happy and effective in the house churches. The pressures and stresses of the large institutional church sometimes even ruin their relationships in their own families. Pastors in the large institutional churches must be too many things for too many people. They have little time for personal spiritual growth as disciplines. It is a very sad thing when a man who is called of God to make disciples is made to feel those whom he is called of God to make and help grow as disciples are viewed as his employer. Yet, that is not at all unusual in the intuitional church. The house church is never to be found like that. In the house church the leader knows he is to BE a disciple, and by that example make disciples. His obedience to The Lord is not continually faced with necessary compromise. Sheep are drawn to the shepherd who seeks to be more like the Good Shepherd found in the Gospel record. That sort of leadership is not what the goats are looking for. Just the fact that the gathering is small and meets in the house holds no interest for the goats.
One thing about pastors who are genuinely called to pastor by the Lord, they love to help people on a personal basis. When a pastor only has 12 like Jesus did, or even any number less than twenty, he has the closeness that pastors love to have. He can give them the time he really wants to give but is so often found to be impossible in the institutional church. Another thing most genuinely called pastors like in the house church is the way the small group keeps him accountable as a dear friend rather than some stage actor or famous orator who never personally knows his people.
The house church pastor in making disciples is always able to give the necessary and extra time to develop the new leaders when the time comes for the house church to be come two or three new house churches. He knows the leaders are prepared and the new leaders know where they will find the good help and advise they need. The house pastor often will be able to find time to do things he could hardly dream of doing in the institutional church. He might have time to write a book or do other things as the Lord would lead him in other ministry outside his local congregation.
Just the burden being lifted from having to somehow perform before a large crowd of both sheep and goats every week is a great blessing to most pastors. He does not have to make an outline and write up some speech. He can speak as The Spirit gives him utterance according to the needs that he is now fully aware and close in understanding.
He can take great joy in seeing the Lord using everyone and giving the increase to the fruit of his labor of love. Even if he can not make it to a gathering he KNOWS the making of disciples will proceed without his physical presence, which gives great confidence when it is time for the house church to become two new churches.
Ask any pastor if his life would have had more joy with no building problems, no employee management problems, no competition, and no demon board to tell him his failures. What genuinely called pastor would not be more happy with simply making disciples? What pastor would not rather be 100% about equipping the saints for the work of the ministry? To be sure there are some who would rather be a great stage actor, orator, or comedian. Such men are really not called to pastor. To genuinely called pastors, helping and making disciples is really what their heartís desire is, and not being some chief executive of an entertainment business.
If there is one thing which we hear from the saints scattered abroad, it is that they desire fellowship with brethren of like precious faith. In the midst of the last days great apostasy, being and making disciples really is NOT part of the religious agenda of the majority. All true believers long for fellowship and depth in the relationship with other believers because the love of God is in their heart. 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. There is vast difference between real genuine biblical love and feigned affection.
Depth of the relationship with genuine biblical love is a great advantage of the house church. Institutional churches, as a rule, have polished being nice and feigned affection to a science in these last days. The house churches characteristically have more openness, transparency, and unfeigned love. House churches create an environment where believers can do what believers are supposed to do. The word that is preached in the house church will much more likely be profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Everyone in the house church family has much greater freedom to encourage, comfort, teach, pray, and serve one another.
Consider these things
which are to happen in the biblical church pattern and it is obvious the house
church has greater capability in all of these:
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Rom 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Rom 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
Gal 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Gal 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Eph 4:2-3 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
1 Th 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
True believers enjoy interaction and involvement with each other. True believers having abundant eternal life hate passivity and recognize passivity as ground given to the demonic host. True believers are actively seeking to grow from faith to FAITH. They seek to be DOERS of the word and not hearers only, who will want more than to sit passively for a one hour sermon per week. They desire to share the revelations which they receive from their personal study of the Word, and seek righteous judgment as well as confirmation of their revelations. House church is almost incomparably better than the institutional church in this regard.
The biblical model of the house church is as we find in I Cor 14:26. When the house church comes together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. All are encouraged to actively participate to serve and edify and grow from faith to FAITH. All do at the very least, bring some sort of food to share in the common meal. Worship in the house church is participatory and not a performance. It is simple, and if no one has gifting in musical instruments, recorded music can fill that need, or singing the old classic hymns without instruments. Again, the worship is participatory worship and not a performance in the house church. House church members seem to know and love to worship in spirit and in truth.
Because of the informal and open gathering of 12-20 people in the House Church assembly, all teachings, all revelations, all prophesying is EXPECTED to be judged for conformity. Generally the KJV Holy Bible is the same and only bible used by all. When all of those present are brothers and sisters who know and love one another, one simply does not find people being defensive or reactionary. Any teaching by any person in the group, including elders, pastors or overseers, is expected to be judged as much as it is expected to be confirmed. There really is very little reason to ever see home church groups become unsound in essential doctrines of THE Faith. Normally this difference is stark because the modern institutional churches are generally established upon distinctive doctrines which are considered NOT to be subject to judgment even by the Word of God.
Yes, there are Institutional churches with small home groups meeting on some other day of the week than the main gathering. The problem is that it is still not like the biblical model but rather a structure where there are lower level performers who make sure the institutional hierarchy and inner and outer circles of control are reinforced rather than focusing on disciple making and growing from faith to FAITH. The home group leaders in the institutional structures are more like lower level performers and informers rather than servants or facilitators or servant discipleship leaders by example. Within the institutional church with home groups the different ranks of membership and nonessential distinguishing doctrines are emphasized more than disciple making. The institutional home group leaders are always understood to be subordinate to the paid professionals on staff.
Perhaps worst of all, pastors of institutional churches with small groups are often extremely limited in their personal disciple making. They are so busy with their many responsibilities and find little time for one-on-one discipleship. About the closest they can get is discipling the group leaders. Even that is more often than not limited to a once-a-month meeting. Please understand that in writing about house churches that I have no intent whatsoever to attack institutional churches. Certainly the pastors of institutional churches need our collective prayer coverage from the corporate Body of Christ as much or more than any other group of people in the Body of Messiah. It is just that the house church with the common meal is the biblical model. And the biblical model facilitates disciple making where the institutional church structures often hinder that purpose.
So many great men of God are pastoring institutional churches who are doing everything they can within their structures to please the Lord. Many of them feel they are trying to do the impossible because of the institutional structure constraints upon them often prevent disciple making. I understand how very difficult their jobs are. The impossibility of the institutional structure is part of their difficulty which most never recognize. Without supernatural empowerment no one could do the job they are called to do. No man in his right mind would ever attempt such a job unless they were certain of the Lordís calling.
One of the reasons that house churches can be so effective at evangelizing is that every house church should have its own social and cultural heritage. This advantage of the house church is particularly evident in countries that have no Christian cultural tradition. House church members do not invite their neighbors to a church building that culturally would be completely foreign to them. Friends, neighbors, and new acquaintances are simply invited to a meal with their friends.
A common meal where most bring some part of the meal is generally an important part of most house church gatherings. Many will include Communion. At that Last Supper Passover, the Lord encouraged the remembrance of His death till He comes, that it be done as often as we would. Different house churches may be led differently in this area but most have this spiritual blessing each week, or certainly on a monthly basis. Communion or the Lordís Supper was instituted as part of the Passover meal. It certainly is the biblical model or pattern to have that spiritual blessing of the remembrance of His death as part of a meal. That is the apparent pattern followed when the early believers gathered.
Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 1 Cor 11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
1 Cor 11:23-33 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
Generally a call for reconciliation and forgiveness is made in the house churches when the Lordís Supper is observed. This is no difficulty in the house church gatherings as it could be in a large institutional church gathering. All should be able to see why there is little chance for roots of bitterness to take root in the house church as so often happens within the large institutional church structure.
Mat 28:18-21 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Certainly one of those things which the Lord taught and commanded us to observe was the remembrance of His great work of redemption and reconciliation as we would partake of the bread and wine. There is no doubt the apostles observed not only the Feasts of the Lord but had the Lordís Supper remembrance frequently as part of their disciple making and teaching.
We see that clearly not just within the Jerusalem Church but also in the Gentile churches which Paul planted in the above passage of I Cor 11. Paul corrected the church in Corinth for their lack of love regarding the common meal and the celebration of the Lordís Supper in connection with that meal. Obviously, some of them arrived early at the gathering and ate their own meal without waiting for the others to arrive. There were perhaps poor brethren who could not bring any food to the gathering to share in the common meal. Sadly it seems these poor brethren both were shamed by their poverty and left the gathering hungry. Paul sharply rebuked such failure of love. Paul did not hesitate to warn them of the consequences of partaking of the Lordís Supper in an unworthy manner. Paul let them know that if they failed to judge and correct THEMSELVES, the meaning of discerning the Lordís Body, that they could actually eat and drink judgment upon themselves in the form of sickness and even death. It is clear that which was corrected was being done at the Lordís Supper in connection with the common meal. The scriptures make it clear that the Lordís Supper was part of the gathering, and that it was of a common meal in the homes with no specially anointed officials required. Priest craft has no place in the house church biblical pattern.
Personally, though the Lordís Supper portion of the common meal should have some solemn sanctity, I believe the common meal portion should be kept as informal and joyous as possible to help emphasize the remembrance of His sacrifice for us. We see that clearly in Acts 2:46 - And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with GLADNESS and singleness of heart. The call for SELF-EXAMINATION and reconciliation and forgiveness is always the right thing to do in observing the Lordís Supper. This is often one of the most beautiful and endearing parts of the advantage of the house church over the typical institutional church. Paul made it quite clear that any strife and division in the body was an invitation for Godís protection and blessings to be lifted and give occasion for judgment. It is always right for every believer to examine their heart before partaking of the Lordís Supper.
God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of His saints. The self-control fruit of the Spirit is expected to be manifested in the assembly of saints. The common meal can be before or after the assembly. The assembly should include worship, teachings, and ministry of spiritual gifts. It is often good for the men to gather separately for different portions of the assembly. The elder women are to teach the younger women, and women can only properly exercise teaching gifts when men are not present. Women are prayer warriors and much more spiritually sensitive. When the women are praying that all spirits be bound from manifesting other than the Holy Spirit, then the word which the men are to bring forth will come forth with power to change lives. Women and men should have a separate place and time for prayer. There should also be elder men teaching for a portion of the general assembly and a common time of worship. How things are done and organized is up to each house church to determine, and house churches frequently change their way of doing things. Generally things are done much more biblically, however, in the house churches.
I would encourage anyone involved in a house church or perhaps thinking of starting a house church to study OFTEN I Corinthians chapters 11-14. Most of the issues the house church will encounter are addressed in those four chapters. If you will study those four chapters together you will find the Lord, by His Spirit leading and helping establishing right foundations for the house church.
What is written in the
scriptures regarding what happened in the churches of the apostles could only
have been in small house churches. I would encourage anyone who is either in a
house church or considering house churches to read the recent GJiGT update
series on the
Holy Spirit Baptism.
In that obvious small group house church setting described in First Corinthians chapters 11-14 the main characteristic was the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit manifested His gifts through the members of that house church in Corinth. His gifts were given severally to each of the individuals for the edification of the entire house church assembly. The gifts were all being manifested - prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, gifts of healings, faith, and working of miracles. It would be an assumption, because the scripture did not say all of these gifts were manifested at every gathering. However, we are to believe that it was certainly a possibility most of them were at each gathering and all of them most likely over time. Yes, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite part of disciple making. Again, there is no need for some highly anointed official for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, Yeshua THE Messiah, is the Holy Spirit Baptizer.
What is expected to happen in a house church gathering is clearly answered in just one verse - 1 Cor 14:26 - How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. We do there see clearly that ALL are to participate and manifest their gifts to the edifying of ALL. The house church is ALL active rather than one active and many passive. ALL participate.
It is by the inspiration
of God that PSALMS is mentioned first in that summary of what is to happen in
that list of what is to happen in a house church assembly of saints. Psalms is
often called the Jewish hymnal for good reason. The value and prophetic nature
of the Psalms is impossible to overstate in the time of the Antichrist War on
the Saints, where the saints will be called to endure to the END and quite
literally live the book of Revelation. Teaching the word of God, and admonishing
by the word of God, and worshipping with the word of God is RIGHT - Speaking to
yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in
your heart to the Lord; Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all
wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Is any among you
afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16,
The word of God should be sung by believers. That is often what is wrong with the rock beat of much of the music designed to dull or quench the self-control fruit of the spirit in the so-called Purpose Driven churches of self idolatry. Even just 50-60 years ago the hymns and music in the church hymnals had very solid, sound, scriptural basis. Modern church songs, with the beat overriding the rhythm, generally do not have the biblical sound doctrine of the famous old hymns from before the twentieth century. It is the beat overriding the rhythm that causes the lack of discernment that such are often from inspiration of a spirit other than the Holy Spirit who ALWAYS affirms, confirms, and exalts the One whose Name is called the Word of God. Often the songs with the beat overriding the rhythm are simply not going to have much teaching and admonition substance. In house churches it should be expected that the Holy Spirit will inspire different brethren to lead in the singing of well-known Christian songs, old and new. It may be expected that the Lord will give members of the house churches special songs to have special significance for the edification of that particular house church gathering which are recognized by all to be Spirit given.
Next on that inspired list of 1 Cor 14:26 is DOCTRINE. If doctrine is causing division in the Body of Messiah, FIX THE DOCTRINE. The men are to do the teaching, and they will not do it well until the women are praying. Women have the higher calling to be talking to God rather than talking to the saints from some pulpit however large or small, if and when men are present. This is why that if there are women with teaching gifts that the men and women have a time in the assembly where they may gather separately for prayer, and so that the elder women may teach the younger women. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to share a Spirit-inspired testimony at a gathering. It should be understood that every teaching brought forth from anyone is to be judged by ALL for its conformity to the More Sure word of God in that God promised perfect KJV Holy Bible. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (I Tim 6:3-5) We should understand that there is no indication in the entire New Testament that the same person give a sermon every week, and this is a marked expected difference between the house church and the typical institutional church.
What a great advantage we have today to have something not even the Apostle Paul had. We have that perfect Holy Bible in plain English, in the KJV Holy Bible. I will say this with all holy boldness that even if the house church is a Messianic house church, with deep appreciation of the Jewish roots of all scripture, NO bible, other than the KJV Holy Bible should be used in the Messianic house churches. To get understanding we need to turn at the reproof of the Holy Ghost rather than go to alternate renderings. God promised a perfect, purified seven times by the Holy Ghost, HOLY BIBLE, the More Sure Word. Any other bible is NOT that More Sure word.
If you KNOW Yeshua, you know He would speak 100% German in Germany, 100% Portuguese in Brazil or Portugal, and 100% plain simple KJV, King Jesus Version English in America and England, as certainly as He would be speaking 100% Hebrew in Israel today.
Just one verse nails this
issue for the house church that only the KJV, the Holy Bible should be used in
English speaking house churches or one faithfully translated from the KJV like
the Voudois in French, Statenvertling in Dutch, Reno Velero in Spanish, or
Bambos in Greek. 1 Cor 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions
among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the
How will we all speak the same thing with different bibles?
How will there be no divisions among us with different bibles?
How will we be perfectly joined together with different bibles?
How will we all have the same mind with different bibles?
How we all have the same judgment with different bibles?
We have such a great advantage over the house churches which we read about in the Holy Bible. We have the complete purified seven times by the Holy Ghost more sure word of God. With such a great advantage of having available personal copies of THE HOLY BIBLE for our gatherings, there is no excuse for us to have doctrinal problems which prevent us from loving God with all of our being and loving our neighbor as ourself. The sad fact and reality however, is that there are few today who have even studied to be APPROVED UNTO GOD on the subject of why the KJV is THE one and only Holy Bible. There are fewer still who have even one time read the KJV the way God said we should Ė every word, line upon line, in context, precept upon precept, straight through from Gen 1:1-Rev 22:21. If you, dear saint, are in that vast majority who should be ashamed of not having done that Ė START TODAY to fix that great weakness in your faith. Get that KJV, if you still can, and get started today, reading EVERY WORD from Gen 1:1 straight through to Rev 22:21 the way the Holy Ghost preserved, purified, and put it together for you. The house church should not ever fail to affirm that EVERY WORD of the more sure word is given by plenary inspiration AND preservation by God.
I delight and am glad to know according to I John 2:20 that you have an unction from the Holy One and that you know all things. The Holy Ghost is your Teacher of the More Sure Word of God.
When the tongue is brought forth AUDIBLY in assembly it should be a Revelation. The tongue manifestation in public assembly of the Saints must ALWAYS be accompanied by the gift of the interpretation of tongues. When we think we should speak a tongue audibly in assembly, and the interpretation does not come forth, we simply missed God. When we obviously miss God and bring forth a tongue which has no interpretation, we are then given the opportunity to give a great example to the body of Christ. We then have the opportunity to ask forgiveness, humble ourselves, and manifest the grace of God in personal repentance.
The best example anyone can give to the body of Messiah is the example of personal repentance. If someone is ignorantly manifesting an audible tongue in assembly without interpretation, let the ignorant be ignorant. The elder in the assembly is the one charged with the responsibility of giving the instruction and admonition that such manifestation of vanity or another spirit is to be stopped. Whenever a tongue is manifested audibly in assembly, it IS ALWAYS BY THE WILL of the one manifesting the tongue. However, whether the tongue is being manifested in accord and by the will of the Holy Spirit is ALWAYS JUDGED by the interpretation. If there be no interpretation, then it was not manifest by the will of, or in accord with the will of God. It really is that simple. However, we are commanded to let the ignorant be ignorant.
Most in the house churches come to expect the Lord to give revelation. Christianity is a revealed faith. The revelation could be anything that is revealed by God to some member of the body. Perhaps an unbeliever visits the house church assembly as Paul spoke of in 1 Cor 14:24-25. It may be by a tongue manifestation with the interpretation, or by prophecy that the secrets of the unbelieverís heart are made known with the result being conviction, that would acknowledge God being in the midst of the assembly, thus opening the unbelieverís heart to receive the grace of God evidenced by repentance and FAITH in Yeshua, the Lord Jesus Christ. The real presence of the Holy Spirit is something that many in the biblical model house churches expect to see. Supernatural things should always be tested, and are known by the fruit that is born. Because He is in any gathering of two or more in His Name, we should expect the manifestation of the power of His presence on a regular basis and the good fruit and absolute agreement with the more sure word is the proof. The Holy Spirit is NEVER threatened by the test of the spirits, and commands us in I John 4:1-3 - Beloved, believe NOT every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:
In any bible other than THE KJV Holy Bible you will find that IS come changed to HAS come. The IS come, is THE test of the spirits. The IS come, in just seven words, IS the confession that you KNOW Jesus to be the I AM who taught the Torah to Moses. That He IS God the Son, The Messiah, the Creator as well as the Redeemer. That He IS the eternal One, whose goings forth have been from of old from EVERLASTING. That the one same Spirit who made Him One ECHAD with the Father is the Spirit indwelling us and should make us ECHAD, one with the Father, and one with one another. All of that is implied by the simple seven word test of the spirits. Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh.
Most are shocked when they find that THE test of the spirits has been removed from every bible other than the KJV including the NKJV. Just changing that one word IS come to HAS come lowers Yeshua, The Lord Jesus Christ from being God the Son, the Creator, to the status of any man ever born of woman. Every man and woman has come in the flesh that is present in the house church assembly. However, only The Lord Jesus Christ IS come by His Spirit indwelling the members of the house church assembly by His Holy Spirit. Because of that reality we should expect supernatural manifestations of His presence by His Spirit indwelling His saints. We should never forget that it is His power being manifested for His glory, and be humbled by the power manifestations of His presence. We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
House churches are actually started by the Holy Spirit through the ministry of a house-church planter or an elder, pastor, or overseer, who is given a vision for a house church by God. To me in these last days, the minimum requirement of such a house church planter is that he has come to KNOW that he has the word of God that he has the word of God in THE KJV Holy Bible. Such a one would have one or more disciplined cover to cover, precept upon precept, line upon line, disciplined readings of the KJV Holy Bible, every word in order Gen 1:1 to Rev 22:21. Such a one could be any man that truly KNOWS the One whose name is called the Word of God.
Once a man has the vision from the Lord for a house church given by the Holy Ghost, he should pray and seek the Lord regarding others who want to join with him in the formation of a house church. Perhaps this series would be helpful to give to those whom you think might be interested. Trust also that the Lord will bring you into contact with new people in your area whom you do not even know who have like precious faith.
These questions would
certainly be good to ask:
1. Have you the forgiveness of your sins?
2. Have you peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ?
3. Have you the witness of God's Spirit with your spirit, that you are a child of God?
4. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?
Seek the Lordís leading to the people to ask about forming a house church. You will find at least one or two others with the similar vision, to confirm your vision and the Lordís leading. Also, be open to the possibility the Lord may want you to bring in a majority of unbelievers that you may lead to become true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Though we might think it will never happen or take a long time to find people of like precious faith, I believe that because of the signs of the times, it will happen much more quickly than most would suppose. I believe most new house church planters, as well as seasoned house church planters, are being surprised how quickly the Lord seems to be moving to establish house churches in these last days. More of the old house church planters with whom I communicate, report that the time is being shortened that it takes for the members to feel comfortable with each other, relate to one another, and learn how to flow with the Spirit. There is going to be a certain amount of trial and error which it seems is being shortened.
House churches though certainly the biblical model are strange to most churched people. The sinner that just gets saved makes the best evangelist because all of his friends are sinners. Churched people take different amounts of time to acclimate to the idea of every-member being expected to actively participate and share their gifting as biblical servant leaders. Many have never known the Holy Spiritís leading and gifts, the importance of a common meal, and how much more a casual form, albeit biblical and certainly spiritual, is toward growth in disciple making. Church planters quickly learn they must pray, seek and encourage prayer warriors and have patience and meekness. As in all things the planting of a house church is by His grace and for His glory. If that perspective is not kept in focus ones best efforts will meet with frustration.
To start a home Bible Study, with one person leading worship, and another person having prepared a teaching, and then closing with prayer and the fellowship of the common meal is a typical start. I always like to recommend the epistle of First John for starters. I also think it wise to have some sort of bible reading schedule that takes one through all of the scriptures in the course of a year. That really is a very light schedule. One such schedule is on the GJiGT web site. That way if new saints have questions they know everyone else is reading the same thing. If someone gets a revelation there are many people who have just read the same scriptures who would be interested to hear and could confirm and/or judge the revelation. It is good to be on the same page of the bible on the same day with the rest of the people in your house church. That way when the saints gather they are much more likely to be talking about the Word than about the weather, the big game, or other things that will make no difference a hundred years from now. Some house church meetings move from one house to another and some meet in the same house each week. If the weather is right, meet in a park or a nearby picnic area. The meeting time does NOT have to be Sunday morning. For many good reasons Saturday, the Sabbath is BETTER, but knowing how the Lord dealt with the Sabbath cops and Sabbath Sheriffs, I would strongly recommend that NO ONE ever think they should be a Sabbath Cop.
IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO START SMALL. The Lord Himself only chose 12 to be with Him. The purpose of the house church is DISCIPLE MAKING. We must first be disciples in order to make disciples.
Many pastors may be working within the structures of institutional churches. If you are constrained by an institutional structure be sure you go slowly. Let God set you up. I would encourage you to start by simply making the decision to teach ONLY biblical truth and hold up the standard of why the KJV is THE Only Holy Bible in plain English. Yes, that is a very good place to start. A great deal of research on this important area has been done and pressed down and shaken together to give you plenty to make that certain in your own heart, and to be faithful to the souls for whom you must give an account.
The other thing you will want to do is to do whatever you can within your existing church structure to make disciples who will have a heart motivated to DO and obey the commandments of the LORD. Real disciples want to make the transition to a biblical church structure when they understand it. Religious spirit bound people who go to church because that is what they think that good people are supposed to go to church, will NOT be drawn to the house church. You need to know that such people will resist any attempt to move the institutional church structure toward the biblical house church model.
Study what the KJV Holy Bible has to say, and teach your institutional church congregation about house church structures and the advantages that they have in making disciples. Many pastors begin the transition by dropping the midweek or Sunday evening service to begin weekly cell meetings in homes that would be overseen by brethren you know to be strong in the word. Encourage everyone to attend and on a rotating basis be sure that you attend and resist the temptation and invitations to take over the leadership of that house group on the occasion when you visit. Be an encourager who desires a break from the spotlight and pulpit.
Many pastors begin with just one home gathering with a few of your most interested members that you would initially lead. If that house group functions well, then appoint elders and release the group to become an independent church that would only join the institutional church service perhaps once per month. There is no reason why that new house church should not still be associated with the institutional church you pastor. That could also help influence others within the church to consider being part of another house church being planted by the institutional church.
As the initial first house church you plant grows, then prayerfully divide it so that both groups have good elders and gifts of the Spirit within both groups. It is good to have all of the groups gathered on occasion and the institutional church could make such facilities available for such gatherings every three or four months.
Acts 13:14-14:23: But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: And there they preached the gospel. And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
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