She asked for us to share our thoughts/feelings regarding this, so I did. What follows are my thoughts/response to her. They are going to start a house church movement. I have known several myself who have done this and even participated in one for a short time.
I have mixed feelings about the house church model. Your family makes the third family inside the last year that I have encountered that is making the house church movement their model. The other two families believe that ‘church’ as we know is outdated and ineffective. My concerns are, for them and others, that the people I know who have wanted to move to this movement are wanting to do in order to escape the politics, hypocrisy and other baggage that comes from doing life together with other Christians. On the other hand, there is something to be said for doing church the way it was done in the first century and for many years before Constantine screwed it up. For me, I would never want to be a part of a house church because I would do it with the wrong motives. My friends who firmly believe in this movement have many more opportunities for ministry and make better use of the times they do have for ministry. Being able to connect with people in a non-threatening way for them to get to know Jesus is essential. That is the major upside to house church… you can’t get anymore non-threatening than sharing dinner at someone’s house. The church I currently attend with have a discussion group called Theology on Tap where we meet at a pub to allow non-believers to come in an have a forum to ask the tough questions and we try to wade through it all… and have a few beers in the process. I applaud you for your convictions and your willingness to follow God where he calls you.
(the next paragraph didn’t make the response to her post, these are mine on the cuff just now) House churches seem to be popular as a way to begin a new full-fledged church. I would argue that any given church’s lifegroup program is essential to getting people involved and plugged into the ministry of church. Given that argument, it makes sense for churches to start from a life group or house church movement. What I strongly like about the house church movement is that allows Christians to be more focused on ministry and not politics that seem to consume so much of our churches.
As far as your questions go, I do want to weigh in on them…
1. What is Church? In response to your tweet of this question I think I said something like the bride of Christ whom he loves unequivocally and would do anything for, including die for us. We are a safe place for broken and beat up people to come and find peace and repair in Jesus. We are broken people who need Jesus as much as the lost we are trying to save.
2. What is the purpose of the Church? the purpose of the church is to encourage those in the faith and get those that aren’t in the faith in there. In short constantly working out our salvation while leading others to salvation. Ministry is the purpose of the church. James tells us pure and undefiled religion is to care for the orphans and widows. Care for those that can’t care for themselves.
3. What is a disciple? Someone who is disciplining in the art or way of a particular brand of teaching. When we talk about a disciple of Christ it is someone who makes every effort to be more like Christ. It is someone who follows Christ in every aspect of their life (or tries to anyway). Someone who is discipling themselves in the art/way of Jesus Christ.
That was all the thinking I could muster for one day… my brain is tired and now needs sleep…