George Barna on House Church

“House Churches are More Satisfying to Attenders Than Conventional Churches”. This is the title of an article released today by George Barna. Not really news for those of us doing this for a while, but its always good to see the larger picture.

2007-01-08-Narrow-1George has statistics of exactly how SATISFYING these people felt which, to be honest, is not a question that i ask of people nor of myself. Really . . . who goes to church to feel satisfied??? Where is Slice when we need them??? We like house churches because everyone is able to share their gift in an environment conducive to sharing gifts, connecting with God, eating with each other, and taking time to pray and connect with each other and our neighbors. And while its true that living-room carpet is more comfortable that a wooden pew, lets not turn the house church movement into a consumers paradise.

Cool And Lamewhats Cool And Lame-Tm

From My Gripes About House Church, Andrew Jones, 2002

What I found most interesting about Barna’s info was the newness of the movement. I posted recently that house churches had gone from 1% to 9%. But now Barna tells us more:

“The rapid growth in house church activity is evident in the fact that half of the people (54%) currently engaged in an independent home fellowship have been participating for less than three months. In total, three out of every four house church participants (75%) have been active in their current gathering for a year or less. One out of every five adults has been in their house church for three years or more.” Barna

And in case you were wondering about how our mapping the house church scene and putting up a decent web resource is coming along .. . well . . it is still coming along. I am putting something together with Joomla and Richard is working on other site. But it is coming along. Thanks to those of you who are emailing us to let us know about your house church and missional cells. Like Cathryn this morning, who not only sent me news of Barna’s research but is also starting a house church of sorts. Hi Cathryn!!

Related: Tiny is the New Small

Also: Brian Orme interviewed George Barna a few weeks ago.

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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" :-)

19 Comments

  • That’s funny, satisfying. I’ve never even thought of it in those terms. I have thought that the house church is more conducive to certain activities, and the meals are satisfying for the most part.
    Still, there are aspects of a “traditional” church that I miss: big worship, large group synergy, variety of people, etc.

  • I planted 4 house Churches two years ago. Three months into it I was ra ra like Barna, pointing out all the great things about doing it this way. Now we are seeing all the downsides of it. What is needed for I think is a sympathetic but more honest approach to the scene instead of just continueing to hype it up as Barna I feel tends to do. I love being organic in regards to church and would not change, but there are still plenty of downsides.

  • I think it is Robert Warren who is begining to highlight a worrying tendency for house churches to be in state of constant change – which suggest that shortevity could be seen as a sign of growth or could possibly be a sign of turnover?

  • #8…heck yeah. My wife is scared of house meetings at our place because our dog insists on being the center of attention.

  • Yeah, HC-ing is definitely _not_ a consumer’s paradise. If I were looking for that, I’d probably go to “regular church,” for sure! Because we _are_ the meeting–we all have responsibility. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    Let me know if you need any assistance on your house church resource, Andrew…I know it’s not US-centric (good), but I still might be able to help

  • Andrew,
    I agree with you on the whole satisfication aspect of the poll. It does tend to commodify the “assemblying of ourselves together” that the Christian faith is all about. Some people may knock the congregation style but I dont think it will die out. For many Americans the Church is still the meeting place where life takes place.
    But I also, on a deeper level, question whether we should measure satisfication when the whole point of joining together in worship (home or congregation) is not just for fellowship but primarly for the worshipping of God. It is about Him. It is a chance to join together in community and worship together the One who gives us the unity and community. Our happiness and “warm-fuzzies” have nothing to do with it. It really should have no bearing on how we gather together as God’s people.
    My 2 cents! Thoughts?
    Blessings,

  • Simple Church

    (This is a rewrite and update of an earlier lost post.)
    The house church concept has matured over the years and now goes by a couple of different names including: house church, simple church, organic church. Of late, I’ve heard the term simple church…

  • What has people’s satisfaction got to do with it?
    are house churches the new way of satisfying our consumer attitude, whats in it for me?
    I thought it was all about whats in it for others, and God.

  • Glad to hear Barna address this one. Many people point to all the factors that led to the growth of the early church (roads, language, etc). John Ellas thinks that the culture of close-knit communities based in the home was also part of God’s timing and providence. It certainly aided in spreading the gospel and can be quite effective today as well.
    We live in a culture that has devalued community and that means our need for it is greater (as God created us for community). The house church is certainly a good way to regain that aspect of our faith.

  • If the need to feel satisfied is pushing people to house churches, what do think it does to missions. We live in age of short-term mission trips that are more missioturism than missionary.

  • I can’t get me no Satisfaction

    As I read this post, Mick Jagger was singing in my ear. If North American Christianity is now reduced to looking for satisfaction as a dominating feature of their church experience, then no wonder we have lost a missionary vision.

  • House church, smoush church

    TSK has had quite a few great posts the past couple of weeks. Here is a post about the house church and the satisfaction level of the members of said groups.

  • I think when we start crystalizing around forms and structures then we will see the downside of this. We need to be ever cognizant of the fact that it is not about HC or IC. It is about JC! I am seeing too many attempting to place skin on Spirit and we know that will not work. Gathering unto Jesus should be our desire and how, when, who, and why or even if, is His business. Sort of simple but He truly is! We get in the way too much of the time. Maranatha!
    SEMPER FIDELIS!
    ben

  • I think that the house church concept may be understood as being complementary to the institutional church. I am about to launch an entire house church momvement this summer, by dividing our church into seven house-church groups for the purpose of reaching out to our neighbors.
    This in turn will strengthen our conventional church setting making it friendlier, cozier, warmer and informal. Don’t we think that both types of “churching” need each other?
    People that hang out together socially and direct their energies toward helping others, may well enjoy each other’s company in the conventional church.

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