Troublesome Topic: Leadership in House Churches Today

I am convinced that we need to follow the biblical pattern as much as possible. I also recognize that we will not be able to follow that pattern fully due to some differences between our culture and theirs.

Here are the basic principles:

  • We should strive to structure our house churches around family units with the God-fearing fathers being the leaders of their families.
  • If there are God-fearing grandfathers in the picture, they should be the primary leaders, unless they do not meet the spiritual requirements for the position. The role of the grandfathers becomes especially important on the occasions when several house-churches gather together in a larger group to celebrate what God has done.

What about Women Sharing in the Meetings?

Here the issue of “realms” becomes important. I deal with realms and the role of women in the Troublesome Topic called The Idea of “Realms” 1 Cor 14. Here I will summarize what is in that topical lesson and apply it to our day. By realms I mean that there were different types of meetings based on how many families were represented. There were small house church meetings which were usually an extended family and possibly a few neighbors who did not have Christ-followers in their family who they could worship with; there were larger meetings with several extended families represented, and there were gatherings that included quite a few extended families. In the New Testament era it appears that in the small house church meetings all the believers, including the women, were encouraged to share; in medium sized meetings where a few extended families were represented, all the men were encouraged to share; in the largest type of meeting all the elders (grandfathers who met the spiritual requirements) were encouraged to share.

For us today I recommend that we strive to balance the principles of leadership by grandfathers and fathers, and the opportunity for everyone to share who wants to if the realm allows it. Therefore, in a small house church meeting today, I think anyone who wants to share what God has been teaching them through Scripture or through life should be allowed to do so. We will thus learn from each other. However, if we gather several house churches together, we should show respect to the grandfathers first, then the fathers, then the young married men, then women then children. This means that there may not be opportunity for everyone at the meeting to share their thoughts, depending on how large the meeting is.

What about Single Moms?

That is a good question. Regarding single moms I think it is most fitting and most natural in our culture to allow the mom to be the leader of her family and to represent her family in the house church setting. That is not the way it was in ancient Israel where a woman was never without a man. She was either under the protection and care of her father, or her husband. If she got divorced, she went back to living with her father again, and if her father was gone, she lived with a brother. However, in our reality, I suggest that a single mom be allowed to fulfill the role that a father usually filled in the house church setting. In this way we will be keeping the house church centered around family units just like I believe it was in New Testament times. The single mom should respect the leadership of any grandfather figure in the group, just as fathers must do.