Sunday, July 09, 2006

House Churches Are Back!

WND Exclusive Commentary A major announcement about house churches
Posted: June 27, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2006

The little guy is back. For the first time in 1,700 years, simple churches meeting in homes are once again a factor in human events.

In many countries, they're booming so strongly that critics and opponents can no longer brush them aside as a fringe movement. And as I documented repeatedly in "Megashift," home churches are producing millions of proactive Christians who now and then perform miracles (though the credit ultimately belongs to God, of course).

But this week, even I was shocked to discover how big our house church community in North America really is. Briefly stated, we're right about halfway between the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention (which is the second-largest denomination in the U.S.).

OK now, let's inhale. I'm stunned, too. This really is starting to alter the landscape for all of us.

Let me state up front: These are solid numbers. George Barna, the leading U.S. church pollster and perhaps the most widely quoted Christian leader in America, is the author of the figures below. They are based on a full-on, four-month scientific survey of 5,013 adults, including 663 blacks, 631 hispanics, 676 liberals and 1,608 conservatives.

Nobody argues with numbers from The Barna Group. They employ all the professional safeguards to ensure tight results – in this case, a sampling error of +/-1.8 percent. Here are the results stated in five ways:

* In a typical week, 9 percent of U.S. adults attend a house church.

* In absolute numbers, that 9 percent equals roughly 20 million people.

* In a typical month, about 43 million U.S. adults attend a house church.

* All told, 70 million U.S. adults have at least experimented with participation
in a house church.

* Focusing only on those who attend some kind of church (which I recall is about
43 percent of us), 74 percent of them attend only a traditional church, 19
percent attend both a traditional and a house church, and 5 percent are
hard-core house church folks.

The study counted only attendance at house churches, not small groups ("cells") that are part of a traditional church.

George Barna is the author of the new best seller, "Revolution," which talks a lot about the kind of person who is leaving the fold of the institutional church and joining things like house churches. Revolutionaries are highly dedicated to Christ and know the Bible better than most. Barna predicts that within 20 years, Revolutionaries will comprise 65-70 percent of U.S. Christianity, leaving in the traditional setting only 30-35 percent (primarily the white-haired crowd).

Please don't think of the house church as a new fad. For the first 300 years of Christianity, house churches were the norm. In fact, church buildings were quite rare until the fourth century, when the power-hungry Roman Emperor Constantine suddenly outlawed house church meetings, began erecting church buildings with Roman tax money, and issued a decree that all should join his Catholic Church. If you want to stick to a biblical model, the house church is your only choice.

In China, the world's largest church (120 million) is 90 percent based in homes. The cover story in this week's World magazine (June 24) is on how Christian business leaders in China are beginning to change the whole situation in that country. Yes, even while Christians in many provinces are hunted down and tortured, CEOs of corporations in areas with freedom are changing the way government looks at Christianity. That is major.

Bottom line: Worldwide, the original church is back, re-creating the biblical model: "Day after day, they met by common consent in the Temple Courts and broke bread from house to house." (Acts 2:46) God is again pouring out His power on plain folks, bringing a megashift – not in our doctrine, but in our entire lifestyle.

House churches in North America are no longer seen as being in conflict with the traditional church. In fact, much to our amazement, noted leaders like Rick Warren have recently come out strongly in favor of house churches. Saddleback Church is even sending out their own members as "missionaries" to start house church networks! And just last week, John Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship asked me, as a house church spokesman, to speak at his big annual conference. Unheard of.

Of course, many Christians will prefer to stay in their traditional roles, and that's OK. But now there is a strong alternative for ambitious souls who are crying out to do more, to have more, to be more.



At 7/11/2006 09:39:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

praise God!


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