Okay, I want to make this clear - I'm interested in your comments, so let this be a conversation!
In case you are totally unaware, on the other hand, there's been a movement for a long time called "Home Church" or having "House Church." Despite the fact that this seems to be a phrase with multiple definitions, I would like to refer to the ones that hold church exclusively with immediate family members as "Home Churches" for this article, and ones with limited but multiple families included as "House Churches." I found naming them useful, because they are different.
I would like to exclude House Churches that meet once a week as a big church, because the things I'm discussing may not apply. Those kinds of House Churches act much like Small Groups and are almost indistinguishable in difference to me.
For the most part, I find less issues within the House Churches, as there are multiple leaders / fathers included. For one thing, I think these different families coming together could more easily keep each other in check with what the Scriptures teach, and accountable in leadership in general. I read an article in USA Today that is a basic introduction to the concepts: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-07-22-housechurch21_ST_N.htm
I think the article's title describes the goal - to keep things small, simple,and friendly. The potential for encouragement and accountability is certainly attractive and necessary.
I see a danger for both Home Churches and House Churches "that are started in an
effort to counter 'the institutional church.'" This idea is found on http://www.gotquestions.org/home-church.html, which also
points out, "while often listing the above reasons to more closely align with the
biblical model, the real reason often seems to be displeasure with large
church movements." This seed of bitterness can be detrimental to spiritual growth. More time can be wasted avoiding structure or traditions, complaining about how "they" are (referring to large churches), that could be used to further the Gospel and build one another up.
Even in House Churches, I see a potential for neglecting the structure of the church found in the Bible. "In Acts there is a leadership structure including apostles, pastors and deacons." (http://www.connectboise.org/?p=1838 ) And since House Churches and Home Churches often say their ideas are Scripturally based, I hope they don't ignore that the Scriptures teach "in Acts they met daily 'in the Temple' and 'from house to house,'" that is, both at a larger setting with other parts of the body of Christ, and smaller gatherings.
In both scenarios, I like ConnectBoise's questions, and think that these are worth answering. Some groups may have answers to these questions, and if so, who could find fault? But, if the Home Church or House Church is isolated, it isn't building into others' lives, so it is a danger. Considering the questions could be beneficial:
"Where are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers?
Where are the deacons? How do you send missionaries? How do you plant
churches? How do you fulfill the great commission? How do you utilize
your gifts for the body of Christ?"
"The house church can lack organization, focus, mission, leadership,
and accountability if not tied to a fellowship and /or leadership of
apostles or those in other positions of authority in the church...
1. A disconnect from other believers or churches around them
2. No clear leader
3. No significant financial contributions
4. No missions sending capacity or apostolic function
5. A closed mind to meeting with larger bodies"
In Home Churches, I have gathered that the father leads, and assuming he isn't going to just up and leave, what happens if he becomes ill? Travels for work? There's not much support for the family if there's just them. Even in House Churches, there is potential for a lack of support: "If the house church depends on one leader to do everything, it can quickly fall apart if the leader leaves."
I found a site where a man shared his experiences and talked about his decision to move to House Church:
He says there was "so much activity (conferences, seminars, mega churches, parachurch ministry, books, etc.) with so little impact," (John White), and I can agree with him. While leading Cru and a youth group, I became frustrated by the big push for events with Cru, and the ineffectiveness of some events with our youth. The ones who knew God could grow in the weekly meetings and serving at special events, but the ones that didn't care, didn't care more or less because they attended these things. Their relationships with God were personal, and I couldn't sit with them every morning and read their Bibles with them and pray with them. What they gained from what we provided was ultimately up to them and God. And becoming ultra busy and spending lots of money wasn't a responsible way to act. What were we modelling? I still cringe when a teen says to me, "We're going to this conference and going to get our Jesus fill!" Ummm... wrong on so many levels... 2 hours after they come back, hey, even on the ride back, what's changed?
No church setting is perfect, because it's made up of imperfect people. There are two extremes to every problem, and it's easy to get off focus. If you're a part of a group that's more focused on bashing everyone else / their system than furthering the Gospel and creating opportunities that disciple over a lifetime, consider sharing with your group that anything that doesn't glorify God and encourage others is time wasted. Study God's Word, seek Him daily.
What do you think about House Churches? Home Churches? Other forms?