North American Christianity has labelled out of church Christians as rebellious, lone rangers and dangerous. I both agree with this label and disagree. Let me explain.
Pastors and leaders who lose sheep due to a variety of issues will often become upset and offended, calling fire down on the individual who’s left the church. They’ll tell others that “so and so” left because they’re “in sin” or are “rebellious” and while this can often be the case, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, people leave church because it’s become dead, controlling or worse, heretical. At other times, they leave because they see that the modern church has very little resemblance to the church found in the New Testament; house church!
It’s to this point I want to speak in this article.
There are quite literally multitudes of Christians who don’t attend any church; they stay home and have “church” the best way they know how. On Youtube or Christian forums, etc. They seem to find more fellowship and fulfillment via these means than they do in a modern church building where they get lost in the crowd. While Pastors, leaders and other well meaning Christians call them rebellious, the opposite is true; they want to serve God and be in a legitimate fellowship. It’s just that the modern church can’t provide this for them, even though the modern church has various groups and programs. There’s a lack of genuine intimacy with other brothers and sisters and multitudes of Believers see it for what it is: a manufactured church.
Out of church Christians are starving for fellowship but they receive little of it because they’ve been labelled by the institutional church. Pastors have “warned their sheep” to “stay away from so-and-so”, and as a result, the out of church Christian is seen with suspicion because they won’t fellowship in a building church with other Christians.
I don’t blame them. I came out of the institutional church in 2011 and planted a house church which continues to this day. I could have simply stayed home and watched YouTube as many do but I understood that while the institutional church isn’t what I wanted, being a lone ranger was not what I envisioned myself as being either. Plus, I tried that years ago; it just isn’t beneficial to one’s spiritual life.
Yes, there are those who won’t attend a church because they are rebellious and have a lone ranger mentality. These precious people will one day learn that they made a huge mistake. Why? Because they’ll be surrounded by countless Believers in Heaven. No hiding out in your livingroom when you get there! lol. But to those out of church Christians who aren’t rebellious and really do want all that the Lord has for their lives, there’s more for you than you realize! YouTube and a Christians forum may be providing you with a small measure of fellowship that you couldn’t get in the institutional church but you’ve only scratched the surface of the type of fellowship that the Lord has planned for you if you’ll come into His perfect Will for your life.
House church; it’s the out of church Christian’s safe haven. It’s North American’s best kept secret. While persecuted countries have countless house churches, North America has building churches that resemble nothing of what we see elsewhere. If you were to go to a Chinese underground house church, you’d experience something that no church here in North America could ever provide! The level of fellowship, the corporate participation and the spirit of unity in the underground house church movement are simply not seen anywhere in our democratic culture. Pastors and leaders will tell you otherwise due to feeling threatened at statements like these, but I would encourage you to simply study what the underground house church movement is, how it was started and how it thrives. You’ll be surprised to learn that churches in persecuted nations get along; there’s no competition between Pastors and denominations don’t exist! While North American Pastors and Leaders talk much about unity and have tons of programs for your ever need, the house church movement in persecuted countries is simple, raw and it’s a fact that 80% of Chinese converts come to Christ via a verifiable miracle. That’s a far cry from what we have here. In our institutional churches, the paid staff stand on a platform to give a three point message week after week while in the house church movement everyone – yes, everyone! – is used by God in the main meeting. No one is left out. Everyone is used by God to edify the others. Simply put, the house church movement resembles what one would see in the Book of Acts while the institutional church resembles more of a movie theater with it’s front facing seats, it’s platforms and it’s rule of “Be quiet! The Pastor is speaking!”. While you’re looked on with suspicion in North America if you attend a house church, it’s the opposite in in persecuted countries. I believe with all of my heart that God is going to birth a cry for pure fellowship once again in North America and it’s going to come via persecution.
Am I against institutional churches? Yes and no. I’m certainly not against what God is doing in them and nor am I against the godly leaders that are being used within them to impact lives for the Kingdom of God. The Lord is moving powerfully in countless congregations across North America; there’s absolutely no doubt about this. That said, I am against the form of institutional church. It simply doesn’t look like what we see in the Book of Acts. And that, dear reader is my contention. A home cell group is not church. A Bible study is not church. A corporate gathering in the institutional style of doing things is not church. While these may have components of church, they fall far short of the Biblical pattern. youth groups where young people are segregated from their parents who are in the main meeting; the main meeting consisting of a few songs, a sermon and a closing prayer… this isn’t the church that we see in the New Testament.
The People of God are suffering. While a handful of individuals in any given church are being used by God, the rest simply sit there week after week, doing literally nothing but paying attention. They have giftings and ministries of their own that God has called them to but are they being used? For the most part, no. Being an usher or a greeter or a collection plate attender is not being used by God in the sense of the 5 fold ministry, yet this is pretty much all that we have in the institutional church framework.
The house church, as we see in the pages of the New Testament, isn’t at all like this. The house church is dynamic, fluid and encourages all of God’s People to be used. This is why I’m for the house church… because it’s the Biblical model.
For you out of church Christians, I want to encourage you to no longer see church as “it’s this or nothing” but rather look to the house church as your alternative to what you’ve always known. Why? Because it’s God’s Will for your life. His Will isn’t that you sit home week after week without genuine fellowship. You’re an out of church Christian but this doesn’t need to be! You can either join a house church or plant one right there in your own home!
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