In mid- to late-2007, I first came across this term in mailings from my former church’s youth pastor, who had gone into new ministries. He was starting this kind of church, so I wondered what it was and began researching.
It’s basically rebuilding Christianity from the ground up, not relying on denominations or doctrines or preachers or anything but the Bible, not even needing a pastor.
You have tiny groups doing worship, prayer, communion and Bible study with a leader. This can be your church, or alongside your regular church.
It is very easy to get into all sorts of heresy in this kind of setup.
It derides practices which are good and right, such as imitating Jewish worship (which was prescribed by God himself) and paying a priest/pastor a salary.
I have looked into the practices of the Early Church, including writings from that time; I find the claims of the Simple Church founders regarding the Early Church to be inaccurate and misleading.
Frank Viola is a big part of the Simple Church movement, and he’s the one who wrote Pagan Christianity, charging that paganism infused the Church shortly after its inception.
I am extremely concerned because Viola rips apart everything about the historic Church which makes it the One Holy, Apostolic Catholic Church.
Some quotes from this page:
Does a house church need a leader or pastor?
Although all house churches are different, and they decide individually how they want to do things, in general there are no “pastors.” At least there doesn’t need to be.
We believe that the Holy Spirit can use any believer to teach or encourage the group. In a house church, everyone is expected to participate and be looking for ways to use the gifts the Holy Spirit provides (see 1 Cor. 14:26).
Certainly there is usually a facilitator of the group (although it doesn’t need to be the same person that facilitates from meeting to meeting).
We believe that even a new believer could start a church in their home without feeling like they need a trained professional to come and lead it, or needing money to support such a person.
We find that the lack of a specified pastor encourages every person in the group to look for answers by searching the Scriptures and looking to the Holy Spirit, rather than depending on the pastor to interpret.
….What do you do when you get together?
Again, this will vary from church to church . . . but here are some of the basic elements that tend to be present in every house church:
FOOD – When you get together, eat! It provides a great atmosphere for people to have honest open communication with each other.
OPEN PARTICIPATION – 1 Corinthians 14:26 is the basis for what we do when we get together. The key is “Each one has…” Everybody should be able to take part.
BIBLE STUDY – Keep it simple and interactive. A great technique is to look over a few verses together and then share with each other what each person gets out of the verses.
PRAYER – Find out what is happening in each other’s lives and take the time to pray for each other. Expect God to move powerfully and to speak to the group as you pray.
SIMPLICITY – Make sure that whatever you do can be duplicated. If the church is going to multiply rapidly it must be kept simple.
How do you handle ceremonial events?
This is yet another area where many house churches differ, but here are some suggestions:
WEDDINGS – We usually encourage couples to have a civil wedding (in front of a Justice of the Peace) on a Friday to deal with the legal issues, and then have anything that they and their house church want for the real wedding that weekend.
BAPTISMS – Be creative! We have had (or heard of) baptisms in jacuzzis, bathtubs, swimming pools, and lakes.
LORD’S SUPPER – Again, the way that people in different house churches handle the Lord’s Supper varies widely. If you are interested, Steve Atkerson wrote an interesting article on the Lord’s Supper called “The Last Snack“(printed in issue 1 of House2House magazine).
In a group like this, how do you prevent the spread of heresies? A group which doesn’t even have a real pastor? No seminary degree, nothing, unless he happened to get one through his former denomination?
Some articles about it:
House Church Basics
Frank Viola’s Blog/Website
Books by Frank Viola
Interview with Frank Viola in which he claims the Church is full of paganism
What do we mean by “Simple Church”?
Beware of it and do not fall for it! It could do a great deal of damage to the Church.
A blog critiquing Viola’s Pagan Christianity: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Postlude.
A blog criticizing this sort of church from the Orthodox perspective: Where the West is headed now, and how the Eastern Church might play a role
Written between 2007 and 2009
Index to my theology/church opinion pages:
–End Times and Christian Zionism
–God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
–Cat and Dog Theology
–Raising One’s Hands in Worship
–On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
–On church buildings
–The Message Bible
–The Purpose-Driven Life
–The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
–The idea that God has someone in mind for you
–Literalism in Biblical interpretation
–Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology, Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
–More about Pat Robertson
–Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
–Women in Marriage/the Church
–Why do bad things happen?
–Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts? Or, how should we evangelize, then?
–Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
–Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
–Hell and the Nature of God
–Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
–Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
–How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
–What about predestination?
–Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
–An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God
–Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
–Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
–Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
–What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
–Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
–What is Worship?
–Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
–Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
–Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
–Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week
Phariseeism in the Church