More for Wednesday Thoughts and Prayers
With the great advance of the gospel in the rest of the world through house churches, why is it that the American Church seems to be so slow to pick up on the trend? It is hard to find a more pragmatic people than citizens of the USA, so why haven’t we latched on to this “effective” strategy for propagating the gospel?
Ted Esler over at http://Esler.org has a great post on why Americans seem to have an aversion to house churches. Really a good and encouraging site. Ted is the the executive vice president of Pioneers USA, one of the fastest growing mission movements in the USA. In his post he mentions five reasons and discusses each in a short paragraph:
- The Joiner Factor (“Safety, Part 2”)
Go over and read what he has to say. Then come back and read my additional five reasons here. I say come back here because Ted hasn’t posted my comment yet and I have expanded on what I wrote over there in my comments below.
I think Ted Esler has some good and helpful thoughts here. But lets be more reflectively honest as well. Many of you know that I am working on the planting of a cluster of house churches in the Mundelein/Vernon Hills area of Northern Illinois. [Update: since this post I have entrusted that work to others in order to accept a call to a rural multi-site church that is open to the concept of house churches.] So I am not an anti-house church guy. But I do think that if we are going to be honest there are other factors involved in why Americans seem to have an aversion to house churches as they are presently moving forward on the American landscape.
- The “Put-Off” Factor —Some Christians are put off by what the perceive to be an overly critical attitude toward what Ted calls “brick churches.” If house church proponents want to truly start a movement they will have to graduate from what some perceive as their adolescent insistence that “we do it better then the traditional church”. We need to talk about what we are doing in the house church movement more in terms of call and celebration and less in terms of comparison and critique.
- The “No Missional Thrust” Factor –Some don’t see any missional thrust in the current house church movement. There are exceptions, but many house churches are filled with believers who just like things small (for good reasons). Truly missional leaders analyzing what many house church actually do, hear a lot of talk, a lot of good theory, but in the end many house churches are equally irrelevant to gospel transformation of neighborhoods.
- The Lack of a “Wow” Factor —Americans, as a people, as a generality, like things big. Compared to the rest of the world, all Americans are Texans. What wows us is big, instant big, and bigger. House churches seem too small to be significant to the American psyche. This is not a Christian thing. This is an American thing. Many non-Christians see no transformative difference between themselves and their “brick church” or “house church” neighbors. Why try it if it doesn’t produce anything different? Why try it if there is no “wow” to the transformation of individuals.
- The “Doesn’t Fit the Culture” Factor —Most places that are experiencing rapid growth in “house churches” are also totalitarian cultures or government structures (China, Korea, etc.). Either the government or the culture suppresses large assemblies of people, or large assemblies of people around the gospel narrative. In the West, freedom and affluence make it possible, perhaps not as productive as we would like to think, but possible to build churches, schools, colleges etc. This weights a culture against certain forms.
- The Individualist Nature of the West Factor –Western culture is so individualistic that house churches intimidate the average American. They expose the individual too quickly as opposed to the anonymity of the larger group setting.
With what I have written, some may wonder why I am planting a cluster of house churches. But that, my friends, is another topic.