Breaking Bread Locale

House church is great! Especially when it’s not your house! We met here at our house for a few months for our weekly Bible study and leaders meeting. We just got a new place, so I thought I’d lay out some of the weaknesses of the “having-church-at-home” model.

First of all, unless you have industrial strength furniture, your house is going to take a beating. Seriously. Nothing says “premature wear” like house-churching. There’s the gobs of people sitting and hanging all over stuff, and the weekly (or more) moving of stuff. Pretty soon the junk’s stained, broken, or falling apart. So find some extra furniture or something from the get-go that you can live without. ‘Cuz you’ll end up living without it whether you want to or not.

Second, you turn your comfort-zone into your work-zone. Like a lot of these things, this is something that’s far more important to my wife than it is to me. Anyone who’s ever gotten ready to entertain guests at home knows the stress that a wife feels preparing. Because it’s not just coming to church, it’s coming to our house. So of course, she has to prepare food, drinks, entertainment, etc. My wife kills herself as it is, I don’t care to add that to her list. Also, when do people go home? If people stay and chat for three hours at the new place, I could care less! But there’s no nice way to say, “Hey, it’s nine-thirty. Can you all leave now?” When we did have it here, I tried to tell my wife that it wasn’t a big deal and help her with setting up and tearing down. But I’m serious when I say there was some serious damage after people left. The place was usually a wreck – and the Chinese students were always very considerate and careful. But forty considerate people make a mess, anyway.

Third, is the potential security concern. It’s nice to have something detached from our home. In case anything were ever to happen, most likely our home would not be searched, robbed, or locked-down. Those kinds of things would probably center around our other place. Helps keep a little distance between ourselves and the nucleus of the storm. Plus, all the noise that comes with troops of students isn’t sometimes received ideally by your neighbors. We were able to minimize some of this by letting it be known by most of our neighbors that we taught in English, which most of them think is a great thing.

Last, I really think that the focus of the meeting suffers. From the beginning, people come because they’re told by friends, “Hey, we’re going to some American’s house, wanna come?” Introduces the uncool “surprised-to-be-at-a-Bible study” factor. But, if you’re into “decoy evangelism,” that might be just your thing. Plus, people bring gifts because they feel like guests at your home (you know – flowers, stuffed animals, wine). Meeting in your house seems less official, less important, less urgent. Hard to describe, but there’s a real difference. And people don’t like to change. Home Bible study, after all, seems like a great idea. Low cost. When we talked about getting our own place, I had guys from our leaders meeting wave their arms in my face like I was a taxiing airplane. They thought it was crazy that we would rent a separate place just for our study. Low cost = low perceived importance. No one thinks it’s crazy that a classroom sits unoccupied all night long. But that’s for important things like dissecting plants…

Tomorrow I’ll try to write some about the upsides of meeting at home, and some of the lessons I learned in those few months.

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3 Comments on “Breaking Bread Locale”

  1. Travis Snode October 4, 2007 at 6:28 pm #

    Great stuff, man. We had “church” in our house for over a year, and can vouch for all of the things you have said. The down side definitely outweigh the upsides. Great post. This is the real side of missions. It is easy for people to flippantly say, “Yeah, just meet in your house. That is what they did in the Bible.” But you don’t find many people volunteering to use their house for church, and the reason is that it brings alot of problems and headaches with it.

  2. Pdal March 18, 2009 at 4:53 am #

    HAHA!! Well, furniture can be replaced. Spreading the spirit is priceless i figure. Wtg. I kinda miss Bible study and sharing the word. Too rare these days, imo.


  1. Should we use our house to start the church! « World Evangelism News and Helps - October 3, 2007

    […] He is one of the missionaries that is living what we have all read about in books.  God is giving him the Chinese language.  He has allowed them to see several saved.  His blog is a blessing to read and so I wanted to challenge you to go and check out his commentary on starting a church in your own house. […]

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