Monday, January 2, 2012

The Struggle with House Churches

A few weeks ago Mike Breen of 3DM posted a blog post provocatively entitled, “Why the Missional Movement Will Fail.” Mike’s point was that the missional movement is like a car without an engine: The conversation’s got a lot of curb appeal but lacks the means to work.

Mike left a lot undefined in his blog. I'm going to take the liberty to read between the lines to read "missional" in terms of the house, organic, simple church movement represented by Wolfgang Simpson, Felicity Dale, Neil Cole and  recently Francis Chan. I'm not sure the house church movement is going to fail, but I surely do know that we're struggling with it.

Recently Andrew Jones of Third Day Churches expressed his frustrations at the lack progress in creating a house church movement in the US and the west: "They are tasty and soft and very tempting. But they have not yet hardened into something permanent."

That's been our experience as well. We've worked with several new church projects that used the house church form as their base model. They haven't worked--yet. The house church model holds out lots of promise but it hasn't proven its capacity to reach into the unbelieving population around us. There's something missing in the form: I think it's the congregation.

Despite the assertion from the house church movement that the house church is the normative, biblical model it's not. House churches are culturally formed models that meet cultural conditions. So far our experience is that the congregational model, a mid to large size community of God's people, is still the most effective form or model for new churches in America.

Mike called our attention to the discipleship engine. The missional movement calls our attention to the missional wheels. The congregation calls our attention to the frame. Apparently the model we choose to employ does impact the harvest.

What's your experience? If you know of a dynamic, growing house church movement or network in America let me know.

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