Frank Viola, Session 1: Observations on the House Church Movement

>> AUDIO: Session 1 Observations on The Housechurch Movement   Observations on The Housechurch Movement

June 26 – Friday Night Session: Frank Viola

Looking At Problems – Deconstruction


NT Wright – 2/3 of what I am going to share is wrong, the only problem is I don’t know which parts

I am just a bald man trying to get to heaven

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 — *verse 2 – To know Jesus Christ and him crucified

Letter – where is the house church headed in the USA –
frustrated at what they find
many are like the traditional church – bible studies, meet once a week, no community life, doctrinal, social clubs, – not like the NT church

Concerns for the House Church Movement

“A great deal of them are inane, insipid, colourless, enemic, and shallow. They don’t last very long, or they move toward institutionalism. They lack depth, spiritual insight, lack of understanding God’s eternal purpose, and lack of understanding of the cross. Most do not attract many people at all.”

Goal: To clear away the clutter and the debris that is an obstacle and hinderance to Jesus Christ and His glorious house and what He desirous it to be, restoring the headship of Christ to the Church.

Not an advocate of house churches. What is a house church? What does that mean?
Definition: A group of Christians that meet for church in a home – broad tent – not specific enough.

Our passion should never be a living room. Our passion should be Christ alone, his headship and Him alone.

What are we talking about here?

The basis of the gathering is not found in that name “house church”
Not excited about house church.

Organic Community Gathered Around Christ: “Group of people gathered under the headship of Jesus Christ, it is a group learning to live by a life that is not their own, the life of Jesus Christ within them.”

Learn to live by Christ’s life together. This is the ekklesia, the church.

Opening Statement:
“Organic church life is the most glorious experience a Christian can know, but will never work unless you embrace the cross.”


1. Merging of a new viewpoint of church – Post-Church View
The viewpoint that says that church is, whenever you get together with your friends, locally, trans-locally, Starbucks, on the phone – you have “church”. I belong to the same church – “Church Happens”. This view – doesn’t matter where you live, it happens over the phone, email, fax, coffee shops. The idea of planting of church does not make sense!

Hearing and listening to hurt people, because it fulfills the desire for intimacy on certain level without any commitment whatsoever. Matt 18 – where 2 or 3 gather, Jesus is in the midst – the “proof text”.

Nothing wrong with these “connection points”

The ekklesia is not these things.

Matt 18: 18-20 ff
Passage has to do with confrontation and reconciliation – individually, more than one, and then congregation – “tell it to the church” – 2 or 3 are a part and not “the church”

Not compatible

Not compatible with ekklessia – Robert Banks, Paul’s Idea of Community – a community of people who assembled together regularly –

Fails the epistle test – you can write a letter to any church and the whole church would read it together – read it all together and pass it on to another

The phantom church, the ghost church,

You can’t visit a post-church church – unvisitable

In the NT, you could meet, as they met regularly, face to face.

It fails the narrative reading of the New Testament test.
Reading the NT chronologically makes post-church church impossible.

We have straighed far from the organic expression of the living organism life in Christ.

Gods Eternal Purpose – in God’s heart since eternity.
Analogy: Father has 7 kids.
Each kid gets an instrument.
Free gifts given from the father to his children.
Take music lessons and learn their instruments.
They love the music and enjoy making music.
Years pass by.
Father brings the kids together.
It was not so that you could enjoy them by yourselves. I am building an orchestra, and I am inviting you on the team.

In every city God wants a house made of living stones, fitting together, a dwelling place, not for you, or I, for God’s eternal purpose and passion. It is for Him and not for us.

2. Post-church church – is about you and me, and not about God and His purpose.

The church is by Him, for Him, to Him. God is looking for a community where Christ can be seen visibly – making Christ known through the ekklesia.

The Lack of Hunger to Know Jesus Christ

Many in house churches have no passion to know Christ deeply – where is the fire to really know him to all of his depths?

Head on collision with body life – where is the hunger?

Meetings, conferences, where the revelation of Jesus Christ was so rich it filled people with awe, where some of the people in the room, nothing connects. Where is the hunger?

HC in the USA is not built on knowing Christ deeply.

Our chief pursuit is other than Jesus Christ, then we are building castles in the sand. We are blowing bubbles. We are building with straw.

Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end. Determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

To know Christ and display visibly, to one another, to those not yet in the Kingdom, and principalities and powers.

3. Replacing the Person of Christ with Methods, Techniques and Innovative Ideas

People are looking for the right method and the right technique. People rarely mention Jesus in these conversations. Jesus is easy to forget.

HC movement is not going anywhere. Give it up
if it is not centred in Jesus Christ, to know Him and Him crucified. To be His bride, His Bethany, His home.

These methods and techniques are all the wrong things.

Proclaim Christ and the cross, and how to embrace Christ together and share His life together, and you will have the Church.

If Jesus is not your passion, give up trying to raise up the house of God. It all centres on Jesus.

4. Lust to Plant Thousands of House Churches – big movement mentality

The ministry of Paul of Tarsus. The best church planter because he understood God’s eternal purpose, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Ministry lasted 20 years. He planted no more than 20 churches. Those 20 churches spread the Kingdom of God to the entire world.

You cannot plant thousands of HC that will be of quality and last. God’s way is to raise up a few healthy Christ centred, authentic, organic house churches, that will be examples. It will be a deep work that lasts long. No cookie cutter operations.

3 people meeting in a home once a week. This is not church.
Ask what is the church? What is God’s eternal purpose?

God will work in and through anything!

There is something higher and richer. It is the heartbeat of God. Revealing Christ again. He is still alive. Jesus is not revealed in one member, but revealed in the body of believers. It takes time to learn how to function together and express his life together.


About Sam Buick

A lover and disciple of Jesus Christ. Married to my best friend, Lori-Anne. Father to 3 incredible daughters, Carragh, Caitlin and Erinn, and sons-in-law Alex Barry, and Stephen Davis. An avid reader, a Droid user, a Mac addict, a lover of footy ball and football (there is a difference), and hockey. Once a soldier. Once a youth worker. Once an ordained minister. Once a claims adjuster. I don’t mind labels, labels define what type of Christian I am: I am a creationist I am a monergist I am a Trinitarian I am an imputationalist I am a Calvinist I am a cessationist ~ Samuel M. Buick
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