Troublesome Topic: A Problem for Institutionalized Churches

Another major weight that is pinning us down and holding us back from sticking our necks out for God is the institutions we have built in God’s name. Most North American “churches” are really man-made institutions striving to do God’s work. Here I am referring to denominations and even locally organized churches that function in an institutionalized way. They are little empires we have built. Sometimes our institutions have the same purpose that God has, and sometimes our institutions become an end in themselves. When this happens, we will bend in any number of ways to keep what we have built. Most of the time they start out good and slowly the preservation of the organization climbs up the priority list until all else is compromised in order to keep the institution alive.

In the future we will likely see the organized churches pressured and squeezed in many different ways. Some of the pressure will be about things that do not seem like a very big deal, but slowly the pressure will increase, and the importance of each decision will increase. During these times we need to be “as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.” (If you want more details on that verse you can see my translation and paraphrase of Matthew 10:16.)

In my opinion, a house church is the only way to avoid this institutionalization of Christ’s body and the temptations to protect what we have built. The house church is based on family units, and families are designed to prepare the next generation and send them away, not keep what has been prepared.

The answer is not to turn an organized “church” into a network of small groups and call them house churches. If that is done, many things will remain under the leadership and authority of the leadership of the local congregation, which in turn is usually under the authority of a denomination. Much of the money will still be a part of an institution’s system just like it currently is. In my opinion, turning an organized church into a network of small groups is not the same as forming true house churches. As I see it, a house church can use all of its funds for benevolent giving, and is not under the authority of a larger organization or institution which tends to look out for its own interests first.

When persecution comes, a true house church can usually keep functioning or, if need be, it can disband and worship as individual families, and regroup later as opportunity affords.

The next lesson is: How Can We Prepare for Persecution?