The First and Last Solution – Home Churches!

The most significant decision for the future growth of the early Christian who is jesus christ was not made by the church leaders in Jerusalem.but by a group of church members (which included some prophets and teachers) after a prayer meeting in a home church in up-country Antioch. They felt impressed to send Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey that spread Christianity through Greece, Italy and related areas, and ultimately the whole world. There is no evidence that they sought advice, counsel or money from the brethren in Jerusalem. (Acts 12:1-3)

For its first three hundred years Christians had virtually no church buildings at all. They met in homes. In recent decades there has been some renewed interest in home churches, but people generally seem quite happy to leave the real business of the church to professionals, preferring to be docile observers for an hour or so a week (as do I!). Presumably people would feel obliged to participate more actively in a home church environment.

But circumstances might change in the future. There seems in general to be increasing hostility to Christianity around the world, opening up the possibility of persecution in one form or another. Currently in China there are numerous home churches catering for Christians who can’t accept the proscriptions laid down for approved Christian organizations. Members and leaders of home churches frequently suffer persecution — prison sentences, re-education through labour, or heavy fines. Despite those problems there are in excess of 100 million home church members while there are only 23.5 million members of approved Christian groups in China. (See Wikipedia article “Chinese house church”)

Some nations might get the bright idea down the track to ban schools and churches that teach creationism, especially young-earth creationism. There was a strong demand in Britain in 2011 that creationism and intelligent design ideas should not be taught as scientific theories in any publicly funded schools. In the US scientist Bill Nye claimed in 2013 that children were being damaged by such outrageous notions. He said it even put the future of the US economy at stake. Should any government action be taken anywhere to control what is taught in schools and churches dissenting adherents would probably find it necessary to set up home churches and run schools without government funding.

That is just one possible scenario that could foster home churches. There could be numerous others in which governments find reason to intrude in religious affairs. Jesus predicted there would be persecution of Christians before His Second Coming. There has been plenty of that already, and doubtless there is more to come, so get ready for home churches if the need arises.

But, you say, you can’t have Joe (or Mary) from down the street coming in to conduct important ceremonies like a Mass or a Communion Service. I am trespassing on a religious minefield here and will offer what admittedly is a minority opinion. Arguably the Communion Services are not the Christian version of the sacrifices offered by Jewish priests, which did foreshadow Christ’s death on the Cross. But when Jesus inaugurated the Lord’s Supper He urged its continued celebration “in remembrance of me”. ( Luke 22:19; see also 1 Corinthians 11:24,25). It can be seen as a memorial.

There are numerous references to priests in the New Testament but most of them refer to either Jewish priests or Jesus as high priest or priest. Check a Concordance and you may find that there are only three additional references to a priest, and in each case they appear to relate to lay people. (Revelation 1:6; 5:9; 10; 20:6) Therefore if Joe or Mary are Christians there is no problem with them conducting services in a home church. They are both members of a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9) They would still, of course, have to be chosen by the membership, or by an acceptable superior authority.

In these times there are a number of interesting options open to home churches.They could occasionally (or often) use recorded TV or DVD sermons or Internet offerings instead of a local preacher. They could link up with the denomination of their choice, send them money, and share a priest or pastor with a couple of other home churches. Or they might find a clergyman not so keen on full time ministry but happy enough to help one home church, while pursuing another part-time career.

The important thing is to get homeliness into the home church, avoid the cost of expensive church buildings, and use the money saved to help the poor and needy. They might find not just the poor and needy joining their church but lots of others impressed by a church group doing what they ought to be doing. If you still have your Concordance handy just check how often Jesus spoke about the needs of the poor.

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