The only “building program” in the New Testament is the building of men and women up in Jesus Christ. In the New Testament God did not reinstitute a new physical building program as He did in the Old Testament. God sovereignly destroyed the only physical building in the world that had any reflection of Him!
In the New Testament, in every town and city, Christians gathered in house churches. It was through all these small house churches everywhere in cities that Christians so rapidly multiplied and “turned the world upside down” for Christ. Only when we follow God’s model can we expect to do the same.
In the New Testament Jesus’ followers came together to “break bread” and “remember the Lord” only in house churches. Why only in houses churches? Jesus may have many more reasons that we don’t think about or understand, “His ways are not our ways.” But I can think of at least 10 pretty good reasons:
1. Identification: God does not want to be identified with a lifeless dead building anymore but rather only with life – the life of Spirit-filled believers.
2. Invitation: No one ever feels defensive when invited to come to a home, but rather gratitude and appreciation.
3. Extension: A house church is like a large family. It is just a large spiritual family. How a family operates is similar to how a house church family functions. Thereby, a good family becomes a good model for a house church and a good house church becomes a good model for a family.
4. Participation: A group as small as a house church allows everyone to participate and enjoy doing so. There is no such thing as “pew warmers”. House churches naturally foster real spiritual growth among everyone. In a traditional church, you are like a “spectator”. You walk in and are ministered to, spoon-fed, and entertained. You sit, you listen, you hear music, you hear a sermon and then you walk out. It’s like a spectator sport where you go, sit, watch and walk out. But believers in the New Testament church were not spectators ꟷ they were participators!
5. House Unity: Believers that meet in small house churches all feel very close to one another and experience true practical unity, quite unlike and impossible to experience in a large church congregation.
6. City Unity: Small house churches feel a greater need and desire to have unity with the larger body of Christ throughout their city, breeding a citywide spirit of love and unity with all believers in their city. The big building church congregations are so large that they often don’t see outside of their own big organization, unlike the small house churches.
7. Multiplying Leaders: The more leaders that develop within any group in society, the greater that group will multiply. Small house churches automatically stimulate spiritual leadership where large church building congregations with their professional clergy intrinsically suppress multiplying leaders.
8. Spreading the Gospel: Preachers are more apt to follow the New Testament example of going out to the public to preach the gospel when they don’t have a big church-building organization for people to come into. They’re more apt to follow the New Testament command to “GO and make disciples…”
9. Money: Billions of dollars are spent on church buildings, while if the same dollars were spent directly on people it would have an explosive impact the world over for the Kingdom of God.
10. Our Heavenly Father knows best: If we are not able to see any good reasons for house churches, we should still defer to house churches for no other reason than it is the only New Testament example that God Himself gave us. Does not our heavenly Father always know what is best? “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?” (Isaiah 45:9).
The implications of the precedent that God set in the New Testament for meeting in-house churches is staggering once you understand all the benefits and implications of it. Here are 8 more important implications:
- Spiritual growth explodes qualitatively and quantitatively because everyone is committed and involved in a house church.
- Real accountability with all the believers becoming close, loving one another, and being “subject one to another”, as the Scripture instructs.
- Potential leaders have real and practical opportunities to develop and multiply rapidly unlike possible in traditional churches.
- All Believers can be more individually encouraged and motivated to share their faith in all their workplaces and marketplaces.
- Eliminates the destructive clergy/laity class system so unbiblical and oppressive in traditional church organizations. In house churches, all the Believers are not just “priests” in theory but in practice (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
- Stimulates all Christian men to rise up and see their spiritual opportunity and responsibility to become mature men and spiritual leaders within house churches, thus greatly benefiting and affecting their own physical family, their workplace, and their whole community (1 Timothy 3).
- Allows for and galvanizes the “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” to get out of their “church” buildings and follow Paul’s example to preach in public areas and from house to house (Acts 20:20).
- No money is diverted into building programs or church bureaucracy etc. but all funds go to help any faithful believers that are in genuine need and into the growing number of spiritual leaders to “fill all the city with their teaching about Jesus” (Acts 5:28).
Extracted from Jim McCotter’s book Church Revolution Today.