Are House Churches Biblical?

from Patheos by   –27 Comments

I’ve never been a member of a house church, but a big part of me would like to be. I love the idea of a stripped down, no bells and whistles, authentic gathering of House-Church-logobelievers making disciples and living on missiontogether. And I’m sympathetic with the house church movement that’s gaining traction in recent years. But are house churches biblical? Or better: Are they more biblical than churches that meet in a building?

Early on, Christians gathered at the temple and at synagogues. But as Christianity began to separate from Judaism, believers gathered exclusively in homes. Or more specifically, they gathered in the homes of rich Christians who had houses large enough to host a gathering of 10-50 people (the size of most churches in the 1st century). We see such gatherings throughout the New Testament. In Acts, houses quickly become the primary location for Christian gatherings (1:13; 2:2, 46; 12:12). Paul addressed at least 5 different house churches in Romans 16. Corinth had a few house churches, though on occasion they all gathered at the house of Gaius, who must have had a rather large home (Rom. 16:23). In the first century believers didn’t gather at church buildings as far as we can tell; they gathered in homes. House churches are therefore biblical in as much as this is where believers gathered for worship in the early days of Christianity.

But we have to distinguish between what is described and what is prescribed. Unless I’m missing something, the New Testament never prescribes (i.e. commands) that believers meet in homes as opposed to meeting in a building. It simply describes that this is what they did in the first-century.

The question is why? Why did believers meet in homes rather than buildings? There are usually two answers that are given.

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