Wednesday, August 22, 2007

There's No Place Like Home (Church)

Koinonia House

There is no place like home, at least for some Christians. In recent years the number of home churches and small group fellowships in the United States has risen exponentially. Since the year 2000, it is estimated that more than 20 million Americans have begun exploring alternative forms of worship, including home churches. A survey conducted by the Barna group concluded that about 9% of adults in the United States today attend a house church – a decade ago that number was less than 1%.

Home churches were, of course, the way it all started. Christianity began with a group of a dozen men along a seaside in Galilee. Even later as Paul traveled and planted, it was the intimacy of home fellowships that provided the earliest forums for the Gospel. His sermons in the synagogues and on Mars Hill were but an invitation. The deeper teaching was taking place in small groups in homes and on hillsides. While the facilities and formalities of Sunday services have since become the norm for many, it was not always so. The church in the house of Philemon grew into the church of Colossae (Philemon 2). The church in the house of Nymphas became the church of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15). The churches in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, became the churches of both Ephesus and Rome (1 Corinthians 16:19; Romans 16:5).

There are three key components to our Christian walk: study of the scriptures, prayer, and the fellowship of believers. Many Christians today have grown dissatisfied with organized religion. Some have even become so discouraged that they have quit attending church altogether. However the Bible is very clear when it emphasizes the importance of spending time with other believers, in Hebrews 10:25 it says: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." It is critical that we spend time regularly with other believers in order to encourage each other.

In the era of the mega-church, where parishioners often number in the thousands or even tens of thousands, it is easy to see why many Christians feel lost. Such large congregations can be intimidating and impersonal. (Many of the more effective larger organizations also foster and nurture small groups - often called "cells" - during the week to respond to just such needs.) For many Christians who desire a more intimate fellowship, home churches seem to be the answer.

Even those believers who are actively involved in their local church can benefit from the intimacy and accountability of a home fellowship. If you are not presently in a small, weekly, Bible study group, we strongly encourage you to find one and give it a try. You may be in for a truly life-changing experience. If you can't find one, you might even consider starting one (for more information on how to do this, see the links below).

There are many Christian leaders today who think that home fellowships represent the church of the future – as we live in an increasingly volatile and politically correct world. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, check out our briefing titled The Once and Future Church (this week's special offer).

Related Links:

Going to Church by Staying at Home - Washington Post
House Church Involvement Is Growing - The Barna Group
House Churches Becoming More Popular - ONN
The Once and Future Church - MP3 Download - Special Offer!
The Once and Future Church - DVD - Koinonia House


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