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Should We Meet in House Churches?

Should We Meet in House Churches?

Pastor John, in episode 912 of this podcast—titled: “Paying Pastors, Church Buildings and Weekly Sermons?”—you skipped right over the question about house churches and meeting in buildings. And many savvy listeners wrote in to point that out to us—nothing gets past our listeners! So do you have any particular views when it comes to whether or not the church should meet in house churches?

OK, not a problem. Yes, I have views. I think the Bible has something to say. I will summarize my view in six observations. I don’t think they are very controversial. I think they are easily supportable. So, here we go—and people can judge for themselves.

1) First, the church in the New Testament as the New Testament teaches about the church is people, not places. The word church in the New Testament is a translation of the word ekklesia, which means “called out ones” or “assembly.” It never refers to a building or place. The English word church is an interesting word. Where did that come from? It came from the old English kirch or kirche like in the Scottish kirch, and it comes from the Greek kuriokos which means “belonging to the Lord.” So, the word church means “belonging to the Lord” in its etymological origin, and could refer to a place or could refer to a people. So, that is where the English word church comes from and doesn’t prove anything about where a people should meet.

But in this whole discussion, it is utterly crucial to keep in mind that, in the New Testament, nothing is said about the church’s place and much is said about the church as people. And just to give a few examples, in Matthew 16:18, it says, “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers,” meaning, among the people, those were some of the gifted folks. So, that is my first observation. The church in the New Testament is always—without exception—people, not places.

2) My second observation is that the New Testament portrays local churches, that is, local assemblies, gatherings of the universal church in a local place and the expression of the universal church gathered in a local place. It portrays these churches often as gathering in homes. So, in 1 Corinthians 16:19, “[I write to] Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house.” So, it is clear that, in the earliest days of the church, the church regularly met in homes.