We don’t berate large churches in our meetings. In fact, most of our members still attend them! God can and does work through any system or person he chooses to. But I have felt over the last few years that one system is better than another.
This is a list of things that drove me away from the institutional church. I’ve given a lot of thought to these things, and while I can’t vehemently defend them all with statistics and evidence, collectively they constitute seemingly insurmountable obstacles that house churches attempt to deal with.
Edit: After three years of “doing” house church, these issues can start to seem like the ranting of an immature twenty-six year old. That’s because they are. Still, at one time I felt pretty strongly about this stuff (and sometimes still do), so I decided to leave it there in hopes that you may understand where my thoughts have wandered.
– Group dynamics cause a meeting of hundreds of people to be formal and restrictive, where a meeting of three to 25 people can be more intimate. One can feel anonymous and unimportant in a large group, and if not connected apart from a Sunday service, one can not easily experience the true body of Christ.
– Not everyone can participate in a large church meeting. The teaching and worship is led by a few people, creating the distinction of clergy and laity. The laity passively takes in a performance by the clergy.
– Because of the non-participatory nature of the laity, members don’t feel the need to do much of anything. They pay one guy a lot of money to do their job for them. Not everyone feels this way, but there is a general diffusion of responsibility that occurs as a result of the presence of clergy.
– Members seldom get a chance to identify, develop, and receive training in their gifts.
– Many churches neglect the teaching of believers in an attempt to be “seeker friendly”.
– The current denominational system seems like too much division in the body. The early church was not divided by denomination, but by geography.
– Due to the expectations of laity, pastors are expected to do too much, i.e. teach, preach, and care for hundreds of people while balancing other responsibilities. This too much to expect one person to be gifted at.
– Large congregations are resistant to change, leaving little room for prophets.
– Too much money is wasted by a traditional church. Pastors, mortgages, utilities, insurance, equipment – it all adds up. A typical house church has zero dollars in overhead, and can send 100% of contributions to missions and the needy.