I am reading Wolfgang Simpson’s book The House Church Book: Rediscover the Dynamic, Organic, Relational, Viral Community Jesus Started. In this book, he highlights twelve advantages to house church and I would like to share them with you. From what I have read so far, I would also like to encourage anyone looking for a concise and clear understanding of the simple/house/organic church movement to pick up a copy of this book.
1. Discipled Multiplication
2. Persecution-proof structure
3. Freedom from church growth barriers
4. More efficient involvement of a higher percentage of people
5. A break from the pastoral care dilemma
6. A place of life-transformation and accountability
7. A better place of growth for new Christians
8. A solution for the leadership crises
9. A way to eliminate the clergy-laity division
10. A biblically based pattern
11. A budget conscious way of operating
12. A resurrection of the city church
I think this is a pretty thorough list. However, I would have included at least one more based on my experience over the past year:
13. Increased opportunity for families to grow, worship, and be on mission together.
What about you? Is there an advantage that you see not on the list?
From a contrasting point of view, this review from Amazon.com is right on:
Not only are these valid concerns, but they are concerns that the church and Christians everywhere need to address. Sadly, I do not think The House Church Book addresses the issue in the manner that it needs to be addressed. The recommended approach seems to lead the reader to abandon church as it is and start meeting in homes or coffee shops almost exclusively, with the occasional larger “celebration”. I do not believe that is the biblical approach at all. There is still good in the “institutional” church in many places. We could indeed begin small group meetings and emphasize them more and more as means of ministry and fellowship while letting our Sunday meetings be our “celebrations”. That seems to be the emphasis of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. It seems to work for them, too, though pragmatism is not what should motivate us. They may very well be a good example for us to examine.
Another concern is the fact that The House Church Book seems to deal with methodology, but gives very little theology to substantiate what is being presented. While many in evangelicalism will not have a problem with that, many shall. We need Scriptural proof of one’s positions on issues as dramatic as this. When Scripture is given, it is not always given in context. One example is where the author uses 1Cor 14:26 to encourage all being involved and contributing to the church meetings. The context of this passage is actually a rebuke of the people for their disorder in doing so. While I believe that Christians should be encouraged to contribute more to their meetings, I am afraid that Simson can very easily do damage to his cause by using Scripture out of context.
A final issue is the manner in which Simson presents to us the various ministry gifts. Where is the Biblical justification for his description of these gifts? This reader is not convinced of his position, but there’s no way to assess how he came to his conclusions about these gifts and gifted persons, because there is no theology given to establish his position.