To get to church on a recent Sunday morning, the Yeldell family walked no farther than their own living room to greet fellow worshippers.The members of this "house church" are part of what experts say is a fundamental shift in the way U.S. Christians think about church. Skip the sermons, costly church buildings and large, faceless crowds, they say. House church is about relationships forged in small faith communities.In general, house churches consist of 12 to 15 people who share what's going on in their lives, often turning to Scriptures for guidance. They rely on the Holy Spirit or spontaneity to lead the direction of their weekly gatherings. ...read more: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100721/ap_on_re/us_rel_religion_today_2
_________________SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
This is a bad charaterization of home churches. Many I agreed are under no authority or defined purpose. But there are a good group of home fellowships desiring to be under a clear authority and purpose that they feel are not being accomplished in many mainstream larger churches.
There is great need for fellowship, forgathering of saints together for prayerand to build up one another in hope,encourage one another in the faith, andto devote time to pray for one another;but fellowship is not a substitute forthe Body of Christ, the LORD'S Church!!
_________________Martin G. Smith
It is news articles like that which cause many Christians to throw out the baby with the bath water. They make house churches look like watered down cult-like gatherings.It is especially the part about skipping the sermon which troubles many Christians. However, I would contend that nowhere in the NT do we see examples of 60 minute sermons being preached/taught in the regular church meetings of the early church. That is a tradition of men that was introduced after the Apostles all died. We know that there were teachings in the meetings, and we are not told how long the teachings were. But we can get an idea by reading 1 Cor.14:26-33 carefully. From that passage we can gather that no less than 10 believers where allowed to speak during the meetings(3 tongues speakers, 3 interpreters, 3 prophets, and from other passages we gather 1 one or more teachers). I do not see how you could fit a 60 minute teaching/preaching/sermon in those meetings with all those speakers and considering other activities that took place(such as singing and the Lord's Supper), unless you envision a 2-3 hour meeting.Notice that no teachings/sermons are mentioned there in the directions of 1Cor.14. Even though teachings/sermons were allowed and enouraged, they were not necessary to a meeting if no gifted teacher/preacher was present. Someone says, "But what about elders who had to be gifted in teaching?" When the churches were first planted, many of them did not have any elders, since they were made up of new converts. These new believers were encouraged to fellowship and share their spiritual gifts for edification. Once the church grew in maturity, elders were chosen from among them to help feed them, lead by example, and protect them from wolves, not to lord over them as we see today. If today there are new believers who see the corruptions of the lukewarm, biblically disobedient Babylonian church and church systems, I would contend that they have Biblical support for coming out and starting a home fellowship of their own, even if they are not elders or gifted in teaching.by all the above I do not mean to say that we should not have 60 minute-long sermons available today. We see that Paul had large, lengthy meetings where he taught the Scripures in the lecture hall of Tyrannus(Acts 19:9). But not in the Sunday house church meetings, because everyone was encouraged to participate.
It would have made house churches look better if the persons interviewed gave Scriptural reasons for their views instead of pointing to new trends in society. Many of their answers sounded "seeker-sensitive", even though there is biblical support for their views.