The Way We Do Church

It might come as a surprise to you to hear that the majority of North American institutional churches today are doing church all wrong. They use religious methods that hurt, rather than help spiritual growth in the Body of Christ. I know, since I was an ordained pastor at one time and practiced these non-biblical methods myself. I’ve asked God’s forgiveness; I didn’t know better. I was blindly following what I had been taught by older pastors as the traditional way of doing church.

That is, until the Holy Spirit convicted me and opened my blinded eyes. Instead of ignoring the voice of God and continue to follow the traditions of men, I chose to abandon the institutional system and follow God at all personal costs. I’m not the only one who has had this same revelation; millions of truth-seekers have come to the same conclusion and have left their traditional churches for something better. Here are just a couple of their testimonies:

“For a long time I sat passively in my regular church sensing there was something wrong. I didn’t know what it was, but I was dissatisfied and stagnated. I didn’t feel I was growing in my walk with God and was spiritually plateaued – reaching a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress. Then a friend invited me to his house church. It gave me a new excitement and refreshing glimpse into what being the “church” must have been like in the early days. I was hooked and wanted more!”

“The church has to become small again in order to grow big. Most churches of today are simply too big to provide real fellowship. Too often, they have become “fellowships without real fellowship.” The First Century Christians were a community of small groups (typically between 10 to 20 people) per house. They did not grow upward into big congregations but multiplied “sidewards” as they grew in order to maintain their koinonia and anointing.”

Coming out of Babylon.

The City of Babylon in the Bible is where God confused all the languages of the rebellious people. The Babylonians wanted to make a name for themselves by building a mighty city and a tower “with its top in the heavens.” God disrupted the work by so confusing the language of the workers that they could no longer understand one another. The modern institutional church is very much a picture of the confusion or babel that occurs when men try to build their own religious towers and kingdoms based on their man-made religious doctrines, denominations, and rituals. In many ways, modern Christendom has become a babel of confusion. Only those who are willing to come out of Babylon will be rewarded with the discernment of a genuine Truth-Seeker.

“Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues…” – Revelation 18:4

Could this modern religious system be Mystery Babylon in the Book of Revelation? Hmm…? I wonder about that.

When God spoke to me about leaving the “man-made Babylonian system” (as I call it), I began to study the Bible and church history in greater depth than ever before. As I did so, the Holy Spirit showed me the RIGHT way to do church. It was there in the Bible all along, but I had never seen it. I discovered that the First Century Christians had modeled it correctly for us. It was the pattern of the House Church which is the most effective way to do church.

What is a House Church_definition

What is a House Church?

The term house church, organic church, or simple church is used to describe a group of followers of Jesus Christ who get together regularly in a home, storefront, or gathering venue, or even online – to worship God in a cohesive, family-type atmosphere. It’s not about going to church, but being the church. It’s about becoming a relational community of God’s people on mission to preach the gospel, edify each other, and reach a lost and dying world for Christ.

The House Church is the original New Testament Church.

The early disciples of Christ were all Jewish and continued to attend the Jewish synagogs on the Sabbath, as was there custom. But very quickly, persecution arose and they were kicked out simply because they preached Jesus as the Messiah. They had no where else to go, so they started meeting in their homes. Very practical!

Persecution turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

Not only where they forced to meet in their houses, but also separate from the old Jewish religious system. They became known as “followers of the way” and treated as some strange “Jesus cult”. Soon, they were even jailed and punished by the Jewish authorities and banned from entry into the Jewish temples everywhere in that region of the world. Yet despite this unmerited persecution, God blessed them greatly and they multiplied like crazy. They reaped a large harvest of souls, were filled with love and joy, and many house churches were established (Acts 2:46-47, 4: 1-4).

The intimate friendly environment of a house church provided the ideal situation for learning about God, interaction between both young and old, and discipleship as truth seekers, resulting in the rapid conversion and maturing of believers into powerful evangelists and servants of the Most High God. The effective multiplication of disciples led to explosive growth of the church where they were described as having “turned the world upside down ((Acts 17:6; Acts 6:1).

Did you know?

  • Pentecost took place in a house.
  • The Last Supper took place in a house.
  • Most of the miracles of Jesus took place in homes.
  • The wedding at Cana took place in a house.
  • Jesus taught in many homes.
  • “Greet the church in thy house” was a common greeting of the apostle Paul to House Churches started by him. He visited the early Christians from house-to-house and taught them everything they needed to spiritually flourish.

Why are house churches better?

What is Koinonia_definition
  • The First Century Church was a perfect model of New Testament Christianity for us to follow.

  • The First Century Church was a close-knit family that met in people’s homes as a community. It was more than just seeing each other once or twice a week across the aisle (as practiced at a modern church today). Rather than being a collection of families, the entire church was one big interconnected family. They were part of each others’ lives. Shared their burdens, and even their possessions. They really loved and cared for each other.

  • The First Century Church had no professional clergy or lay people. In fact, these distinctions didn’t even exist. Everyone was on the same level playing field. Only the local Elders had any distinction, but they didn’t necessarily preach or try to “rule” over the others. They recognized that Christ is the only head of the church. The Elders simply planted new house churches, trained, supervised, and guided. The house church members did all of the teaching, preaching, singing, praying, and ministry under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

  • The informal environment of the House Church gives opportunity for every member to contribute and participate. “Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together for worship, each has something to contribute: one will sing, another will teach, another will speak a special revelation God has given, one will give a message in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything must be done so that the church may be edified and strengthen each of you.” – 1 Corinthians 14:26

  • Despite the many problems and challenges that confronted the First Century Church, it managed to overcome all of them through its ability to quickly adapt to change and new environments, as they met from house to house in small clusters or groups.

  • The First Century Church did not believe in mega-churches. Whenever a house church membership grew too large for the size of the house, they started a NEW house church, with new members and new leaders. They multiplied greatly in this manner and never lost the organic worship, fellowship, and intimacy that only a small house church can provide.

  • Expenses were minimal. The First Century Church did not pay for rent, own church buildings nor pay anyone a salary. Everyone was a volunteer. All tithes or offerings collected went straight towards evangelistic outreaches, foreign missions, local ministry or helping the poor and needy in their community.

In Conclusion

The modern church with its rituals and traditions is an invention of, mostly, reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin. The pastor-centric and strict worship protocols and meeting format was instituted by them only 500 years ago. Although they should be given credit for some positive contributions to the Protestant Reformation, their not-so-positive contributions has caused the church experience to become incredibly boring and irrelevant, stagnate spiritual growth, and quenced the moving of the Holy Spirit. No wonder why many people have left the institutional church!

The proper model and conduct of the New Testament Church can best be found in the first century when believers and church planters met in homes and shared their faith, their gifts, their lives, and a risen Christ – not in long rows of pews facing the stage and a central actor (professional, paid clergy) directing the show.

If we trace the growth of the early church through the Book of Acts, Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus and other historical records, we can accurately draw a pattern of success for today’s believers to follow.

The First Century Church is a model community of believers that the Church of Jesus Christ should still emulate today. It was this simple, organic approach to church life which enabled it to grow by leaps and bounds in a rapidly changing and sometimes hostile environment. It had a dynamic membership under the guidance of the Apostles.

In a nutshell, The First Century Church was a simple yet powerful community of believers that thrived on its continual willingness to embrace persecution and change, the use of its diverse gifts among members, persistence in prayer, practice of love, and reliance on the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LUIS JOSEPH CASTLE is Director of FIRST CENTURY CHURCH LIFE MINISTRIES, INC. – a non-profit organization. Prior, he spent years as an ordained minister, evangelist, and former pastor of churches in Florida before transitioning to missionary work, house church planting, and Bible teaching.

He has a passion to reach the lost with the saving message of Jesus the Messiah and train lay leaders to start and maintain house churches. He strongly believes in the infrastructure of the simple house church as the best model for the modern mission field. He says, “If it worked effectively for the first century church who ‘turned the whole world upside down’ (Acts 17:6), it will still work today.” He also teaches that pursuing God and spirituality is best achieved by leaving the modern institutional church system behind which hinders the spiritual growth of the believer.

As a result, he has authored the book entitled, “Keeping It Simple: A Return to First Century Church Life.”


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One thought on “The Way We Do Church

  1. In a nutshell, The First Century Church was a simple yet powerful community of believers that thrived on its continual willingness to embrace persecution and change, the use of its diverse gifts among members, persistence in prayer, practice of love, and reliance on the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance.

    Liked by 1 person

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