Is a house church right for me?
I recently found this site. After reading several posts, I have found the discussions to be both thought-provoking and balanced. I appreciate the wisdom and respect in the conversations that I've read so far. Thank you!
I got here after Googling "house churches". I have a keen interest in learning more. A quick bit of info about me might help you understand why. I have attended Reformed churches for much of my 59 years on Earth, although I have also had significant (> one year) experience with Baptists, Assemblies of God, Covenant, Presbyterian, and Calvary Chapel. What I've come to discover is that many of these institutional churches hold up some form of barrier to the unity of the Body of Christ. I have no problem with a church defining what makes it distinctive, but when those distinctions are used to push other believers out of the fellowship then it makes it hard to even discuss what should be our shared goal of worshipping our Savior. My most recent experience was with the Presbyterian church. I was once a member, and when the Elders asserted their authority to make decisions on cultural issues then I tried to engage them in a discussion of how those issues related to spiritual concerns. My attempts to talk it out failed, primarily because those same Elders expressed their belief that their authority to run the church superseded Christ's. At that point I resigned my church membership. I tried to stay on as a non-member for both the sake of unity and to encourage the church body in their faith in Christ, but closed Communion did me in. I was asked by the Elders to worship elsewhere rather than violating their rules for Communion which require church membership to partake of the elements. Since I take God's appointment of leaders in the church seriously, I had no other choice but to leave even though I did not want to.
With that in mind, I am looking for a few things in worship. First and foremost is worship that is centered around the preeminence of Christ (Col 1:15). That doesn't necessarily mean that one needs to be a Calvinist to worship with me. On the contrary, 1 John 4:2 lays out a clear definition of who is a professing Christian, and it's pretty broad when it comes to theological interpretation. I just don't want Jesus to be an afterthought either. My second desire is that worship conforms to Christ's saying in John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." As I think about this more deeply I begin to see just how much the trappings of the institutional church have, at least for me, interfered with hearing our Savior's calling. Church attendance for the last year has been stressful as I feel the need to parse every word of the preaching to determine whether or not it is God speaking. The Gospel is pure, gentle, and sweet.
So now that you know a very little bit about me, I'd like to hear what you think. Although we don't know each other, I welcome your honest input. If you think that I should join a house church then please say so and tell me why. If you question if I'm leaving the institutional church for the right reasons then please say that too. I'd like to think that I'm here with an open mind, insomuch as that is possible.
God bless you