Over the last few years we have seen a trend of more people having what they call a “house church”. I’m not referring to what is referred to in Romans 16:5:
Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
In that case they had church in the only place they could meet and it happened to be a house.
No, I’m talking about this idea that I can’t find any church pure enough for me and mine, so my house is my church. That would have its perks—scheduling family and church activities would be rather easy when the only schedule I would have to consult is my own. If I didn’t finish preparing my message and it is only my family, how easy would it be to watch “The Andy Griffith Show”. (Perhaps some episodes of that show would be better than some of the messages I’ve preached, but that is beside the point).
What is lost in this discussion is the idea of corporate worship. The Lord did not intend that everything in your life in regards to Him be in private. That’s a modern invention. Here’s a Scripture that might have escaped your notice. Deuteronomy 12: 17-18 says
Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
The phrase “within thy gates” means at your house. There are some activities that should take place at God’s House. No amount of verbal acrobatics will nullify what the Lord says.
This is nothing more than a repackaging of the old I’ll-have-church-in-nature routine. You know, I worshipped the Lord Sunday morning at the fishing hole. How does that work? Is there some spiritual way to hold the pole or bait the hook? I think of the Lord when out in nature too, but does that replace His call to corporate worship?
This all springs from a misunderstanding of all the Lord had in mind when He gave us the local church. Part of the idea was that there should be other Christians in it besides me and my family. Hopefully my family is already encouraging me and surely they are praying for me. I need more prayers, more encouragement, more of the Word than I can have at my house alone. Then there is giving and reaching out and the local church is what the Lord has designed for this very thing.
It’s not about that building, but we need that body of people in our lives. We need a local church.