Church at home: Why the “House Church Movement” is growing

churchToday we are going to look at an interesting phenomenon exploding across the United States and the world: The  “Home Church Movement.”  Or as some say, the House Church, or “Simple Church” movement. The idea is for Christians to meet in homes rather than in large church buildings, much like the early Christians did for centuries.

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There are many reasons that people are meeting outside of those buildings, but let’s look at some numbers:

In 2003, there were 1,600 house churches based in the U.S. with official websites online. Those sites are estimated to have quadrupled. In fact there are online resources and Bible studies designed just for home churches.

According to the American pollster George Barna, as many as 30,000 house churches were established as of 2009, and it is estimated  6 – 12 million Americans attend them. Those aren’t easy figures to track, as you can imagine. We know that in places like China and nations in the Middle East the underground church is flourishing even under persecution. But today we’re going to focus on what’s happening closer to home. Are there house churches where you live? Do you attend one? What does that look like, and why is it a better fit for you than a traditional church?

We want to point you to some resources, including a free internet book you can read by Andrew Strom, titled, Out of Church Christians.  Here is a video NBC did on the home church movement, and below that there are other resources and related articles.

I also want to remind our commenters that we do have a comments policy in which we ask for your help in not naming local churches or pastors.

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19 Responses to Church at home: Why the “House Church Movement” is growing

  1. Mr Davis says:

    If in a home fellowship a figure emerges as the leader there is little hope for that fellowship. God will not share His glory with another and He is the Head of the body and this is why we ourselves will not be able to point the finger at any man and say he lead me astray, because Christ has made this plain in His word so that all are without excuse.

    If a man perceives he is being looked to more than Christ, this is unlikely for even if it is true we will deny it and lie against the truth. That man should be about lifting up the others so that he himself is diminished and that all have the same care one for another and no homes become divided for no good reason. This is the operation of servant leadership which is all but absent today.

    God has laid out how to operate as a body to avoid apostasy and favoritism and every other fault we may be prone to. It would be good to establish all of that upfront before you begin.


  2. Mr Davis says:

    If any man says to you well Paul said we are to follow his example and so you are to follow me. Ask that man to show you the marks his body bears of his obedience to Christ, so you can believe in his example.

    If one truly was torchered for righteousness sake and still desires Christ Jesus more than anything such a one would be worthy to follow after.


    • Robert Sturges says:

      Paul said to follow me as I follow Christ. I have learned from a very Godly man named Zac Poonen who was Gods answer for my cry, To God, will you please disciple me. It seems like pride to say follow me as I follow Christ. But I see so many who are lukewarm and worldly and have never laid their idols and lusts down, they know they cant say follow me so they use this excuse don't follow me. I think it is a way for them to hide behind their unwillingness to be a example to others. phillipians 3;17 Hebrews 13;7 Hebrews 6;12 Paul clearly tells us to follow the example of those who walk holy lives and follow Jesus with all their hearts.


  3. James Beadle says:

    In order to make sense of what is being said above by Mr Davis, on the surface it appears to be a warning against self interested leaders emerging in small home church environments and usurping the worship into some form of self promoting agenda. I'm not at all sure how that squares with the conversation about the new popularity of house churches. Under the surface I have to wonder if it isn't instead a passive aggressive stab at the institution of the pastorate which was inaugurated by that same apostle Paul that was quoted above. Further, I would suggest that the new house church movement is a post modern reaction to what many are calling the "institution of church". That is, it is a knee jerk reaction to real or perceived abuses by organized church bodies and leaders. Post modernism by is very nature distrusts both in its aggressive focus on primacy of the individual.

    It is a fallacy to make any comparison between the house churches of eastern countries who actively persecute the church and the western post modern house church movement. Those churches exist as they do because of the danger of public proclamation of God's grace in the redeeming act of our Lord Jesus upon the cross. To be able to publicly, without fear, declare allegiance to our Lord is a dream in these countries that many of our Brothers who are suffering fervently pray for. In contrast, western cultures, where a large number of Christians seek to avoid confession that they are members of a religion, instead feeling a need to dress the cross with words like "spirituality", or "Christ consciousness" in order to distance themselves from publicly announcing their faith. Their's is a fear of social persecution (ie. embarrassment) rather than the physical abuses heaped upon our Eastern Brothers.

    The church was instituted by the very God it looks to as its head, as communicated through Paul in his letters (particularly the pastoral epistles of Titus, and 1/2 Timothy). While the direct shape that the church itself is to take in its form of governance is not specified, there are two thousand of years of institutional church in which God has used to shower the gifts of his grace (word and sacrament) upon his flock. The church is certainly faulty at times, it is composed of sinners, but in the words of one of the greatest Christian Fathers to have ever lived, "The church may be a whore, but she is my mother." – St. Augustine


  4. Mr Davis says:

    Before you decide to leave a church where you are now attending and invested consider the model of church discipline given in 1 Cor 3.

    If by bringing up the truth you are seen as contentious to the point where the elder board or pastor decides you have to be put out do not resist them but share the Gospel of Christ in meekness and humility, which, if we have placed our faith in Christ, our desire should be to walk according to His Word.

    Ask them, if you have a problem with this you should put me out, but, if not why do you resist the scriptures and do not do what they say. Your problem is not with me but with God who has given us the scriptures that we should walk in accordance with them in all aspects of life and living.

    Should they or he decide it is time to put you out, they will likely not give you a public audience to avoid any appearance of discord and instead of bringing you before the body to put you out and allow your actions to be judged by all, they will put you out quietly and tell the others it was just time for so and so to leave.

    You must be OK with this. If others know you they will come and ask you what happened. Do not make this an opportunity to rail against the leadership but rather ask them if what you percieved were issues are really issues to them as well. Do this to test your opinion and to use The word here. You may need to repent of your stance on something, so allow what you think to be tested. If they perceive the same issues encourage them not to remain silent but to bring up these issues for themselves in a peacable manner. We are to edify one another and to exhort one another to follow the scriptures and the doctrines as handed down by the apostles and not to make light of His word.

    If you have not been invested in the body you will likely not be given any audience nor should you expect any.

    When you are removed by them:

    If you are a man, take this time to draw your own house together and to take up the mantle of leadership in your own home in your families worship of God. If you are married discuss with her how how you would like to see things go before you begin. Give her a chance to voice her concerns and do not take them lightly. More than likely they will be valid. If she is unwilling to say anything especially in private, for fear of you you have destroyed your own home already and you must repent before God and confess this to them and ask them to help you here. If she waits for a private setting to offer suggestions, praise her for this, unless you are teaching contrary to the scriptures before the whole family, for in this you should be rebuked openly and you should receive it. This will demonstrate your reverance for the scriptures authority and prove you have a teachable spirit to the rest of the family, which, we are to foster.

    Allow the rest of your family to talk of their understanding of the passages you are covering and exersize yourself in comparing the scriptures against the scriptures and letting the scriptures speak for themselves so you do not end up standing on man's opinion. Do not develope the habit of going to the commentaries, written by man. The bible is its own commentary. If you are not clear pray about it and ask God to give you understanding and wisdom in whatever you are coming against. Ask the same of God for your wife and children. When your wife or child's words prove wise praise them for it. When not so much correct in gentleness for we are all of fools in God's eyes.

    Pray for the Lord to put you in with other believers so that you can be obedient in all the Lord's commands in being a benefit to others as you walk together in Love.

    For the women who is unequally yoked: what you are to do is already laid out in 1 Peter 3, and Titus 2. Follow this and pray and wait upon the Lord to lead you into to the fold again. If married show reverence towards your unbelieving husband for the Lord's sake, that the name of the Lord be not blasphemed. Teach your children to do the same and let the Lord fight your battles against him for you. Do not try to take him on yourself. If he leaves you because of your faith do not resist him, but pray to God on his behalf that you may be reconcilled together in Christ.

    For children honor your parents in everything. Submit to them again so that the LORD GOD almighties name be not blasphemed because of you. Let them have a say in your plans and do not hate their correction. They will answer to God for how they were with you, so do not think to fight your own fights wait upon the Lord. Let the Word of the Lord be your mediation and delight, for the trials of youth are well worth more than their weight in gold even fine gold. And in following in them there is great reward though we may not see it in this life but in Heaven our true home and the one we should long for.

    God bless.


  5. Tony says:

    Those "eastern" brothers of yours are not eastern at all they are nothing more that asians pretending to be white because of self-hatred, shame of thier own skin colour that the white people had caused


  6. Larry says:

    House Church or denominational has nothing to do with what the bible teaches about spiritual authority and leadership. I fact if IC leadership more often reflected the Biblical limitations and more consistently took on the responsibilities of it there would be fewer house churches in America. That said, look at it this way. America is now largely apostate or post-Christian. That is it is a new mission field. House churches are often the first wave following evangelism and that will be a great thing for Christianity in America, so long as house churches do learn to accept Ephesians 4 ministry as ordained by God. Beware false prophets and apostles abound, but the Spirit is our earnest and guide. So when you find those who serve Him encourage them greatly in whatever venue or paradigm you happen to find them.

    God bless.


  7. julie says:

    It could be for very practical reasons that people to meet in a home instead of a "church building". A small congregation with only a few people may not be able to afford the rent or the mortgage on an actual building is one reason. A new church plant that does not have a sending church or ministry but is basically a mission to plant a church would be another reason.


  8. This is definetly a growing movement perhaps soon out of necessity when persecution comes more to the West. We have put together a free house church manual for those who are feeling led to start to gather in this way under the Headship of Jesus Christ.


  9. matthewreilly1990 says:

    Read acts 2 they met in each other's homes. How can 1 man or even a pastoral staff pastor and lead a congregation of 500 to 15000 people. There is no intimacy. And oneness of mind or sense of organic community. How can the body utilize everyone's gifts of the spirit if the go and sit and get fed week after week and there is no interaction.


  10. sermonindex says:

    Good article. "30,000 house churches were established as of 2009" it is amazing the growth of house churches around the world. Here is a free ebook to learn about the house church movement in China and also in Iran:….


  11. Jen says:

    We had to leave our church because the pastor said the church wasn't for the saved. He said church is for the unsaved. The kids were playing M-rated video games, games where they licked each other, and games where they were getting paid money to do the biggest dare. We have tried several different churches but they are legalistic, entertainment churches, liberal, or the people are very controlling…like Pharisees. We desperately want to attend a church, but have been forced into a home church where we study Scripture together and are currently using studies by Dr. David Jeremiah and John MacArthur. We would love a solid church; we've even thought about moving in hopes of finding a Biblical church. But this is where God seems to have us for now.


  12. Beth says:

    We are meeting at home at the moment because we are unable to find a local church which is not riddled with significant errors. Being saved out of Roman Catholicism, we consider ecumenical unions and interfaith compromise dividable errors. We search church websites each week, looking for people with which to fellowship…it is quite difficult.


  13. Manny1962 says:

    This is an old thread, but it's more relevant today than it was when first started. Look how much the visible church has slidden in the last 128 weeks! Unbelievable! And home churches will keep growing in light of SCOTUS decision, rampant heresy in false churches everywhere, and coming persecution from the false church and Caesar.


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