I linked to a blog post yesterday looking at house churches from the perspective of a missionary to Peru (see here for original post). Today Steve Bremner gives his observations of the 5 Things The House Church Movement is Getting Wrong (in his opinion). I have to concur with a lot of his observations although it has also been my experience that many house churches are far more evangelistic and outward focused than more traditional institutional churches. His fifth, and longest point, was the one that resonated with me. Steve is concerned that many house church advocates exhibit a certain amount of arrogance, an attitude that we have it all figured out unlike the ignorant/deceived/evil institutional church types. I slip into this mindset a lot and in some ways it reminds me of the culture that surrounds Reformed theology, a culture that is often far too condescending and ugly that contributes to a divisiveness in the church on both sides of the debate.
While I don't agree with some of what Steve wrote, I do recognize the inherent dangers of becoming too focused on "the movement" and not enough on the mission of the church. A "house church" that is insular and focused on meeting "the right way" but not going out to reach the lost is no more Biblical of a gathering than an institutional church just because they meet in a house instead of a "church". There is a fine line between being a prophetic voice asking hard questions and even using hyperbole to stir people up and challenge traditions versus just being a jerk who is always pointing out what the institutional church is doing wrong.
However I do firmly believe that the way we meet matters. That is why I write about it so often and clearly I think that the traditional way of "doing church" has serious, dangerous and debilitating flaws that generally hamper rather than enhance the purpose and mission of the church. There are undeniable advantages, all else being equal, to meeting in a smaller, more intimate setting. The same with having a meeting where those who feel led are able and encouraged to share and edify the group within the guidelines of Scripture. Meeting in homes or inexpensive rented space or even older, "paid for" buildings with volunteer leadership frees money up to meet the needs of the poor and support those on mission. How we meet matters but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be constantly on guard to make sure we don't get so caught up in the "how" that we forget the "why".