A Strange New Trend in Ecclesiology

A new trend has emerged in America in the religious education of children. It is called the “home churching movement.” "Home-churching," has been defined as an individual, family-based worship service. It is steadily gaining in popularity, as more parents seek an alternative to what they consider the overly humanist content of organized worship.

What inspired this revolution in ecclesiology? The woman who  may have pioneered the movement says she did it to "escape the damaging cultural influences of urban Mobile.” She adds that she was inspired to home-church when his 10-year-old son returned from Sunday school singing a lighthearted song about Zacchaeus; a tax collector befriended by Christ, and then later recited the parable of the Good Samaritan.

"I couldn’t believe that the liberal elite had infiltrated even the study of our Holy Scriptures," Tucker said. "It was bad enough that my youngsters were being taught evolution in public schools, but when I discovered they were learning to embrace foreigners and Big Government in Sunday school, I drew the line."

Home-churchers follow no liturgical form, creating their own services. Proponents of home-churching argue that, when handed down by family members, biblical teachings take on a more direct, personal meaning. Additionally, they say home-churching reinforces their personal family bonds. Many home-churchers say they chose to worship at home because they objected to "licentiousness" within the church social structure.

A Tennessee woman who home-churches her family of five, said her frequent complaints to her local church about modern music and coed potluck dinners fell on deaf ears so she took action. It was only after she discovered that the evangelical summer day camp in which she enrolled her eldest daughters emphasized Frisbee and horseback riding that she made the move to private worship.

Her explanation goes like this: "We don’t need these born-again evangelists watering down God’s fearsome judgment. It sickened me to think that young Christian boys and girls were sharing canoes, watching occult videos of bewitched talking vegetables, and arranging pieces of macaroni into suggestive patterns in a so-called ‘wholesome’ setting. By separating my children from sinful elements, I
can finally teach the lessons of Leviticus in peace, without all this ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ nonsense."

My first response, upon reading these accounts, was to laugh out loud. My second was to say, “Of course, what next?” My third was to wonder when this movement will actually spread far beyond the Bible Belt. The more the culture threatens people’s security the more they are likely to turn to themselves, and their own family, as the church. One home worship advocate notes my point when he says that in an increasingly secularized world, "Home worship is the only safe worship."

On the whole evangelicals lost a healthy doctrine of the church decades ago so a conservative reaction like this “home-churching” phenomenon is just another evidence of the backlash and escapist tendencies that lead many on the far right to deny the clear and compelling teaching of the New Testament (cf. Hebrews 10:19-26).

The tragedy here is that this kind of thing looks so genuinely appealing to so many conservative people. But in an age when “Left Behind” is a major influence in the minds of many conservative Christian why should we be surprised? One thing is sure; such Christians will never rear children who influence culture at all. All hope of missional Christianity is gone if this influence ever spreads. I really have little fear that it will, but pastors of conservative churches had best be on the lookout. Home schooling, a movement with much good in it, has already been used by some to divide thousands of local churches. Can the “home-churching” influence not be far behind?

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