reclaimed-church-house-lg After my recent posts on “home church” I got a number of personal responses, both here on the site and through private emails. One daily reader forwarded me the email of a relative (who was sent the post by this reader). I asked permission to slightly edit this reflection and publish it as a follow-up to my earlier mini-series. I personally find this sister’s struggle very common, especially in the evangelical Christian community. Here is her edited letter to my daily reader:

Because I may be moving sooner or later I was telling a mutual friend that it would be disheartening to look for a church because I don’t want to do “church” anymore. We are involved in a church where we live because we are settled and established here. I love my pastor, the music and the people. I honestly don’t hate “church” but I yearn for something different and don’t know what it is. We continue to go on Sunday because it is what we have been doing for years and we don’t have an alternative.

I was just talking to a former pastor who was visiting our church for the first time in five years after leaving. He shared with me his attempt to plant and grow home churches because he believes that the “church,” as we know it, is not biblical. Not that it is evil but it is not what the body of Christ should be. I agreed with and he referred me to some books. My husband and I were thinking, if we do move, this may be the alternative.

That being said, I don’t want disgruntled members of (whatever) “church” to simply fellowship with in a home. My former pastor has had a lot of those kinds of folk. There are people who left “church” offended because they didn’t get their way, which means they are going to want their way in a “home church” or be offended once again. If I left the “church” as we’ve know it then it would be in order to seek what God wants.

Another thing that really is pushing the envelope on this subject is our concern for the kids. We are noticing that our four kids are actually becoming more worldly from the influence of the youth group at our church. We have excellent youth ministers that can effectively reach the kids in the world. But my children are not coming from that frame of reference and the results are precarious. Because it is aimed at the kids in the world the message is milk-like with a high volume of fun. It would have been perfect for me I suppose so I support them in that regard. However, I have been asking the Lord what to do about my/His children in this predicament.

It was strange that I talked to this former pastor for the first time in many years this last Sunday and you send a rare email to me about home churches several days later. Hmmm…I will keep my eyes and ears open to what God might be directing. These happenings can be his nudges or just another interesting topic.

There is more than a few things here to consider. What has happened to “youth ministry” comes to mind immediately. Christian Smith’s massive study suggests our kids have embraced a God of moral therapeutic deism. I believe this is the troubling truth. Also, why do good people find it so hard to find a “good” church? I am not talking about the church shopping mindset. I am speaking about a place were community is real, where love is experienced, and where people matter and things don’t. Can anyone seriously doubt that the church is in desperate need of renewal by the Holy Spirit?

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  1. Kevin Jesmer September 10, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I have led a house church for 12 years. (in UBF) I love it. My five kids (10-16) all participate in minisitry, music, prayer, Bible study, the older ones speak sometimes, presiding, setting up for meetings and serving. They all go to public school but they appear to be strong spiritually…but time will tell when they move away from home I guess. All the kids have one to one Bible study with me and my wife. My prayer for them is to be Bible scholars. They don’t go to youth group. They are a youth group and they get great discipleship.They are not lonely and bitter. But they are very happy and have a sense of ownership about what is going here. They see the work of God going on right before their eyes everyday and so preaching the gospel and raising discples of Jesus is second nature to them. I really believe they could run a small church all by themselves if they had to. All this is possible in a house church setting. I love house churches. There is so much opportunity if one is faithful and committed.

  2. Chuck September 10, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I have had numerous encounters with folks who are tired of “doing church” for a variety of reasons. Many of them have wound up at an emergent congregation in our inner city area and having been there myself I understand why. Their worship gathering is simple; a tasteful blend of traditional and contemporary, there is no pretense or showiness, the Word is preached in an approachable manner, there is genuine community, and in every way they just seem so balanced.
    Regarding the writers concern over the youth groups influence on her kids it seems to me that youth groups have fallen into the same malady that churches in general have – the seeker model of ministry. Our youth group is a prime example. The mantra was to “reach all of our public school kids for Christ”. No problem, except that the kids who came to the youth group meetings were not being discipled, fed, and drawn into formation in Christ. They were instead being entertained. Not good.
    So, can anyone doubt that the evangelical church is in serious need of renewal? I pray God brings it soon.

  3. H. A. Scott September 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Thank you for this post. It includes some very good observations, and they appear to be genuine and without rancor. I suspect that there are many, many people at the same point of struggle. I know that we have been. I left a church that I had pastored for over 10 years in large part because I did not feel that we were being a church, and I did not feel that I was being a pastor. I don’t blame the church, or any individual – I take responsibility for whatever was lacking. But I did not believe that I would be able to lead the church in the direction that it should go. I did not relish the conflict that would arise if/when we moved from “program” to “ministry.” Once we left and took a step or two back from hourly, daily, weekly intense involvement in the church, I was amazed at what I saw. Thank you again for this post.

  4. John H. Armstrong September 10, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    What an insightful reflection by H. A. Scott. If most pastors took their church from “program” to “ministry” they would be in serious trouble with the governing church leadership. This is one of the truly great problems of our time.

  5. Terry Reed September 10, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    But moving from program to ministry is essential if our churches are to be the body of Christ He intended us to be. It is no wonder so many are disillusioned with so many churches. American Christianity has taken on a strong resemblance to the “milk” Christianity of Corinth. However, don’t forget that the Bible never suggested that the Corinthians stop having church. Instead they were admonished to grow up. Don’t give up on the church, work to help us become “meat of the word” people.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  6. George C September 10, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Maybe it would help if we used the word “service” instead of “ministry”. In the context of scripture I am almost certain there is no difference, yet in Christianity Inc. “ministry” is an elevated professional position rather than an action of giving yourself to others.

  7. John Rowland September 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    A very good discussion. One thing I especially enjoy about the letter to Titus — the focus for two chapters is on character for the young up to the elder leadership and the entire third chapter is aimed at community service. Simple and profound.

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