Continuing the conversation that started after last week's prebytery meeting (see the post Presbytery Meetings can be good)
Neighbor Aaron Klinefelter, a house churcher himself, shoots back some wonderful information in his blog (you have to scroll down to the heading "On Media and House Church" -- sorry Aaron, you didn't give me a permalink). Aaron ultimately brings it back to how do we know what we know (epistemology) -- which he rightly roots in the Holy Spirit and the community through which the Holy Spirit works, though I would also add (and place before the community) scripture. Scripture, I believe, is directly inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the main instrument the Holy Spirit uses in shaping community and guiding our faith. That said, Aaron's got some informative and thoughtful comments.
Then Gary Sweeten emailed back with these comments (which he did not post on his blog, but his blog is quite worth the read nonetheless):
I read your piece and went to your web but my old eyes are too unfocused to read such colors. I remember trying to read Wired Magazine when it first came out and was unable to do that either.
About house church. No need to defend your preference for that style as against other styles. Just do it.
Many years ago after getting the "Left foot of fellowship" from a local congregation in 1969 my family and I got involved in a local house church in the Hyde Park area. That led us to start a meeting in Clifton across from UC and that led some others to use our Ohio Avenue apartment house upper room to start another weekly meeting and that led another group to start another house group on Warner Street and that led to... You get it.
This led us to set up a monthly meeting of house churches in the city and we rented the Newman Center at UC so a couple of hundred people came and then it was no longer exactly a house church because we rented a church house. Even in the Clifton House we averaged anywhere from 30 to 60 people according to whether UC was in session. The Ohio Avenue house had up to 80 or so but we were afraid the place would collapse if more showed up. Warner Street was a mixed bag because it was smaller.
We were mostly students and faculty at UC so we prayer daily, met often, sang new songs, prayed for healing always, had communion after fasting weekly, shared our few goods openly and witnessed fervently. It was a blast. We saw people saved daily, baptized in the Ohio and Fountain Square and other bodies of water as was necessary and made up the traditions as we went.
The problem of the house churches was its strength. People loved it and it grew into something more and bigger and the intimacy was lost. So, keep up the good work. House meetings have been going since about 33 AD and will continue forever until Maranatha occurs. I just do not have the physical strength to join you any more.
Gary has told me many times that the churches that embraced house church folks experienced a time of renewal and revival. As Aaron says in his blog -- house church folks are looking for meaningful face to face participation -- not sitting on a committee. They want to make a personal difference -- and they do.
Final thought -- as a result of this little online conversation, a new blogger has entered the scene: My friend Erwin Goedicke, pastor of North Presbyterian Church (whom I wrote about previously in Sometimes it's good to go hungry). His thoughts continue to center around these issues as well. Go, read and make plenty of comments.
Let's continue the conversation
Soli Deo Gloria