House Churches: 1% to 9% in a decade

When our family worshipped in a house church in 1996, in the living room of our house in San Francisco, we were part of a movement that made up only 1% in the USA. Today, that number is 9%, according to recent research by Barna. Or to say it a different way, in 1996 I knew of a few hundred house churches. Today there are thousands and its now impossible to count them all.

A good article [HT: Rudy] released today on Religion Link has the skinny and a goodly amount . . . yes . .  i said ‘goodly’ . . . its a word, you know . . . a GOODLY amount of links to house church resources and organizations, both USA and UK. And some good words like this . ..

"House churches are a part of the post-modern trend in Christian worship that is marked by the breaking down and re-imagining of traditional forms of worship. The house church movement – and the broader emerging church movement – has the potential to reshape the mainstream way of doing church." Link.

And don’t forget that Richard and I are working on a website/resource to help pull together resources and create new spaces in the UK. So let me know if you are starting a house church, or missional cell and tell us how we can help.

Related: George Barna’s Revolution

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Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

15 Comments

  • those are the numbers – and i know your degree is in statistics so you might want to read the article or this quote from Barna
    9 percent of U.S. adults attend house churches – up from one percent in 1996 – and that 70 million U.S. adults have had some experience with a house church.

  • This may be the case on the coasts, but I’ve experienced nothing like those numbers in the midwest of the US. In the metro area of approx. 2 million of Kansas City I would be extremely surprised if there was a total of 500 people who are in any way involved in a “house church”. I’ve helped to start 2 in the last couple of years, and believe me when I say its a foreign concept here. But I guess that’s a part of the power of the house church, it can happen right under our noses.
    But of course this has no bearing on Barna’s research, and I’m extremely excited about the fact that house churches are even on the map now.

  • Hi pardner,
    Sorry to be a wet blanket but the article is frustrating and misleading, at least in the UK context. Partucularly because there are a whole bunch of assumptions people make regarding the term “house church” that I don’t think apply here, and therefore to the 70 million people in question.
    As far as I can see, the article doesn’t say what questions people were asked in the survey to determine if they were in ahouse church.
    From what it does say though, I would assume it includes what most UK churches would refer to as “home groups” or “bible studies” and maybe even coffee mornings, etc, all quite different animals to the revolution Barna sees hapenning.
    I base this assumption on the fact that only 5% of those responding exclusively attended a “house church”, while 19% were also part of a conventional church, and most significantly only 2% were part of a small group not classed as a house church.
    So lacking either more info (or Jonny’s expertise in stats) I reckon it’s saying that 40% of the Americans they spoke to go to church, and of those 5% (or 2% of the population) go exclusively to a ‘house church’.
    The danger here is that people seize the headline and say “Barna’s proved the established church is dead and everyone’s soon just going to be going to house churches instead!”
    My hunch too is that plenty of those will be all manor of groups that the house church lot wouldn’t take to be fully church.

  • hi richard. thanks. it is difficult to see it in the old light of a preferred MODEL of church that is exclusive, which is probably not the case for most.
    the “exclusive” part is an issue. I see a lot of people who ‘church’ in a multitude of ways, including a house church type setting, but who may also attend a church service on occasion. tradition church may count them as well as house church
    as for americans, i have 6 americans arriving in orkney this week for christmas with us. i think ALL of them are house church people.

  • Andrew,
    At the http://www.house2house website is an article by Kevin Sutter “God in bringing his new wine” .How is this different from the article “A new wine for New wineskins” at http://www.apologeticsindex.org? This is regurgitated later day rain teaching.Your a YWAM’er right? Then try the northwest revival network (something fishy in Portland )www.nrn.net. and http://www.grmi.org/renewal/new-wine
    Are you guys in partnership or something? Multnomah.. The root of this is heresy. I learned my lesson back in 1994 and got out!!!

  • Who, or what, to blame?

    A conservative Baptist pastor blogged recently about the ills of the western Xn church. He placed much of the blame on Xn leaders, saying “…the problem is spiritual whoredom. Preachers need to renounce their friendship with the world (called spirit…

  • Regarding women house church planters, I have been working with a network were all the CP are female. This is in Venezuela (South America) and you can read an interview with two of them at http://www.civila.net in the current issue. Unfortunately is in Spanish, but I can connect anyone interested with them. In our network we have several woman church planters as well.
    FER

  • In my experience with house churchers, many of them simply cannot get along with other Christians for any length of time.
    Their unwillingness to listen to a pastor with whom they may disagree on some items propels them out the door. They want to be listened to, instead of being taught.
    I’m afraid that’s not a very flattering view, but I love these brothers and it hurts to see them bounce their families from church to church and finally to house church, then back to a church for a while, and then again….

  • joe. last night i was with people who go to a very closed country and and spend time with house church people – its the only church they know.
    these people live in europe and also have a house church with their family and friends. its very stable. they wish pastors would understand their desire to have a new testament flavored church but many do not understand and they receive ridicule and criticism for their house church. but they will carry on.

  • Andrew wrote:
    “they wish pastors would understand their desire to have a new testament flavored church but many do not understand ”
    This statement is exactly the type of dogmatism that I am talking about.
    Disgruntled churchgoers walk away in a huff ‘YOU aren’t doing church the new testament way’ and after 5 or 6 of the same type experiences they conclude that only THEY THEMSELVES know what it means to be a new testament church.
    It is this kind of thing that the new testament itself warns us about. Submit yourselves to one another and all that, you know.
    If I become unteachable, that’s a very dangerous place.
    If ‘I’m the only one who has it right’, I’ve probably got it wrong.

  • joe – if you met the people i met this week and had a chat and a coffee with them and their families like i did, you would not call them dogmatic, unteachable or disgruntled. quite the opposite. i suspect you have had some bad experiences with certain people.
    can i ask what country you are commenting from??

  • For the musician and worship leader, house churches seem less exciting, but they can be more powerful in worship. I have just written a small ebook called, “How to Lead Worship In a Small Church”, and it gives clues as to how you can really enjoy the small church, and home church, experience.

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