Updated: Mar 27, 2021
An estimated quarter of ex-churchgoers in America have left the church – many for sound reasons. Ed Stetzer of the “Center for Mission Research” found that 24.5% of American Christians (6 million) say their primary source of spiritual nourishment is meeting in small groups of 20 or less people each week and that they seldom, or rarely attend church services.
Contrary to the snap judgement that they have left because they are lukewarm or backslidden, the majority have left the confines of the traditional church not because they’ve lost their faith but because they want to preserve it. A growing number have left the church because they’re looking for more of Jesus not less. They are fed up with man-made packaging and desperately want to experience the kind of authentic Christianity they read about in the New Testament. They long to return to their historic roots.
In the West, there are other sound and sensible reasons why a growing number of Christians are migrating to the simple house church as the early Christians practiced for the first three hundred years. A significant percentage of Christians in the West have found themselves disillusioned, disenfranchised and demoralized by what the “structured” church system has largely become. Many have found it becoming increasingly impersonal, shallow and inadequate in meeting their spiritual hunger and are looking for a more authentic expression of “Christian community”.
Many are tired of being entertained instead of being fed. Many are sick of the merry‑go‑round of sensational hype and ear tickling sermons and long for sound teaching from God’s Word. They are fed up with church hype whether it’s signs & wonders hype, prophetic hype, prayer hype, fad hype, program hype or worship hype. They’ve grown weary of program driven Christianity, fleeting fads, man‑made strategies and a constant smorgasbord of “dog & pony” shows. A growing number have also grown disenchanted with what they perceive to be the structured predictability of “church in a can”. They are tired of being passive spectators in a staged, weekly production with little opportunity of participation beyond passively sitting and listening to a one man show deliver a message in a lecture format without any meaningful interaction with the word beyond an acceptable “amen” or “hallelujah”.
Though many with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo or are locked in the straight-jacket of traditionalism are often quick to dismiss the concept of “house church” as idealistic, unworkable and even hair‑brained there is a quiet migration taking place under the radar of many Christians involving those who are choosing to embrace the house church as a sound biblical alternative. Though some are quick to denounce the house church as a marginally insignificant fringe group of chronic complainers, bitter malcontents and spiritual nut‑cases and would even go so far as to label then as “anti‑church”, they are, in fact, from a New Testament perspective on what the nature of the church was meant to be, the most “pro‑church” of all.
Others have drifted to the safe harbor of house church because they’ve found themselves as wounded warriors discarded by the wayside of a lonely “no‑mans‑land” due to spiritual abuse, church legalism and the inevitable “burn out” of performance driven Christianity. Many of these church casualties can no longer force themselves through the front door of the traditional church but long for a vital communion with other believers so they choose the non‑threatening, nurturing and welcoming environment of a house church where the emphasis is on authenticity, accountability, personal relatability, intimacy, interaction, participation, relationship building, transparency, a deeper sense of Christian community and accelerated discipleship The house church is the ideal crucible for this to happen ‑ it was then, and it is now.
F See Also: Acts 2:46; 5:42; 8:3; 10:22, 30; 12:12; 16:15, 32, 40; 18:7; 20:20; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 1:11; 16:15; 16:19; Colossians 4:15; I Timothy 5:13,14; Philemon 1:2; II John 10