Sometimes an Internet spoof gets so close to the truth that it is hard for serious people like me to know the difference. Such was the case with my April 27 blog on “Home Churching.” Several wrote to let me know that I had clearly fallen for a satirical spoof that appeared originally in The Onion.

This blog offers my correction regarding my mistaken notion of factuality (quotes, citations, etc.), an admission regarding my humorous personal mistake, and some further thoughts about trends that I do see in the American church.

First, I clearly failed to check out the sources for my citations adequately enough to know that this was intended originally as a spoof. I got this story from a secondhand source and did not even know The Onion existed until last evening. I plan to visit the site and laugh a bit more myself in the days ahead.

Second, special thanks to several kind friends who called this error to my attention. All of us need to be corrected when we get something wrong. Friends will correct you for the right reason. Even enemies help you when you are wrong. Either way I was helped. Thanks to all who wrote.

Third, what made me take this farce at face value is that I have really run into “home churching” families. The trends I have actually met firsthand fit the profile of the original spoof almost perfectly. I am not making this up. I have seen such developments in conservative churches and heard these kinds of arguments as I have traversed the country speaking and meeting people. On second reading I can see the “extreme” humor in the original piece that I quoted but sadly my comments about the “movement” still hold true. Is The Onion prophetic or what?

In this case the spoof is actually stranger than the truth. Home-churching is actually growing, at least from what I have really seen. The Onion’s quotes and citations may be fictitious but, quite sadly, the reality is all too true.

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  1. Michael Stevens April 28, 2006 at 11:49 am

    True, at least in the Bay Area home churches are on the rise in a major way. But also in the Bay Area many people believe the Onion is the real news.

  2. Smoky Stover April 29, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Michael…Is the rise in
    number of home churches in the Bay Area due to the influence of Harold Camping’s teaching re the church?

  3. Joshua April 29, 2006 at 5:02 pm

    Well, I feel for you bro. This is one of those instances that are simultaneously funny and sad. It’s funny that this was a spoof, but sad that it was close enough to the truth that it was believable.

  4. Michael Stevens May 1, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    Harold would probably take credit for it, but those who I have come into contact with are young people & young families. The attraction of intimate community I think is the greatest draw, not a incorrect ecclesiology. Remember though the Bay Area has always been open to smaller group with engaging leaders, who was that guy, oh yeah Jim Jones.

  5. Glenn May 5, 2006 at 1:18 am

    My sisiter is a home churcher. Several years ago, after her family left a church, I inquired about her familiy’s church attendance. She said they had church in their home every sunday together. Then she stated, “where two are more are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them.” According to my sister, this is what defines the church. After reading Barna’s latest book, I realized she was ahead of her time : – )

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