They appeal to certain church planters and in certain contexts.
Discerning House Churches
The house church discussion is always an interesting one. People can be very passionate about house, simple, and organic churches, and that can limit some important discussions.
Some say, “Of course, that’s the best way—that’s what is in the New Testament!” And, actually, they are right about the New Testament. However, it can be tricky to evaluate something that you are convinced is the only right way.
On the other hand, house churches are far from the norm in the English-speaking Western world. And, as such, unfamiliar for many. To be honest, many readers will have had experiences with house church people that is less than positive. (I hear often from pastors about disgruntled or theologically-odd people ending up in house churches.)
The fact is, there are healthy and unhealthy expressions of house / simple / organic churches. There are good expressions, and I’ve written lots on that, but I’ve run into plenty of the bad ones.
Healthy and Unhealthy Expressions of House Churches
Let’s be clear from the front. Even if you had a bad experience with someone, there are many healthy expressions of house churches.
First, many are excellent in discipleship. They focus on the simple elements of discipleship, which enhances the effectiveness to rapidly reproduce.
Second, house churches often release believers into areas of leadership and service at a higher rate than other models.
Third, house churches are simple and stripped of all the glitz and glamor. As a result, people are reached with the gospel through relationships.
Neil Cole, who is intimately involved with the house church movement and has the best and most winsome writing on the subject, often says, “What …