It is generally hidden but this rapidly growing phenomenon is changing our world. This phenomenon affects how people live out their faith. People are leaving the institutional church among the thousands around the world to become part of this. Jesus had already told the woman at the well that the time had come for God to no longer be worshiped in a particular place. God wants to be worshiped in spirit and in truth wherever we go. Our life is an act of worship. We call it the "worship life". This actually means that the church never "comes out". It is always there and always "open" because we are the church. Not a building. The gathering place is of less importance. The believers in the New Testament did not go to church. They were the church. They were God's building. The temple of God. In the New Testament there were no holy places. On the contrary, Christianity is the first and only religion that does not have holy places, holy days, holy persons and holy objects. God regards people as His dwelling place. They are holy people. His church is a group of believers where each member contributes to the whole. Every special gift, talent, contribution and participation of each person fulfills the needs of all. What we need to see when we come together is the "ministries of the people", the "expression of Jesus". Romans 12: 4-8 For as we have many members in one body and the members do not have the same effect, so we are all together one body in Christ and each separately members of one another and we possess gifts of grace that differ according to the grace given to us: is it prophecy, to the measure of faith; or ministry, in the work of ministry; or who learns in the teaching; or who admonishes in the admonition; or who distributes, in sincerity; who is a forerunner with zeal; who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 1 Cor 14:26 How is it then, brethren? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, or a doctrine or a language, or a revelation or an interpretation - let it all be established. 1 Peter 2: 5, 9
And also build yourselves up as living stones into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy people, a people as property to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. The main reason why believers stream the house church movement is the following: They want to personally experience the New Testament realities they read in the Bible. They want to experience a deeper dimension of worship life. They seek something more in their walk with God and with their fellow believers. Believers should be more committed to loyalty to biblical truths and principles than to human traditions. Paul's epistles to the New Testament congregations were all addressed to house churches. This is how and where believers came together: Romans 16: 2-5 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their lives for me; not only do I thank them, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Also greet the congregation at their home. Colossians 4:15 Greet the brethren that are in Loadicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
House churches! Where do we stand right now globally?
What is God up to regarding house churches? What strategies are to be followed when it comes to house churches? With this short post, I hope that I can shed some light on the situation we face across the globe right now.
Misunderstandings and misconceptions!
Across the globe, many Christians within the different house church communities hear and see a lot of what is going on right now in terms of the persecution of Christians, the global onslaught on religious freedom and also the latest trends regarding house church planting and house church structures. In many instances these trends and happenings are closely linked to each other, integrated with each other and influenced by each other. All these factors and influences dynamically change things and open doors for yet more changes to come. The diversion to house churches by the institutional church during recent years, because of persecution, is a very good example of this. The persistent pressure on churches and congregations to grow and expand in terms of numbers is another.
Church leadership constantly make important and proactive decisions in order to develop but also to protect themselves against the pressures that they are facing on a daily basis. Since world war two persecution levels has risen to very high levels in recent years. The degree of persecution in terms of severity also rose to devastating and unacceptable levels.
Because of this, when it comes to house churches and house church structures, I really do not believe that what we hear and see today is really what God is bringing into existence in the body of Christ. Adapting because of external influences has never been a good thing in the church of Christ.
House churches are not what we think it is
When people refer to house churches many different points of view come to mind. People sometimes say things and do things with the understanding that they are all on the same page regarding this subject. People are sometimes under the impression that everybody have the same understanding in terms of the definition of house churches and house church structures.
We look at house churches in China and other areas in the world that came into existence because of persecution and we think that these house church structures and these methods properly define the Biblical “Ekklesia”. The early church was also persecuted and maybe this influenced the early church to function similar to what we see today.
The same can be said for house churches that came into existence in the institutional church in the form of cell groups or small groups. Church leadership saw the need for this method of gathering and felt that it would bring them closer to what the early church experienced. In terms of a closer relationship among the members of the congregation when it comes to the shared community life, this was indeed an improvement and it certainly developed people.
The same can also be said for house churches planted by institutional church leaders institutional church style. Although these congregations gather in houses and although they are small communities, there is really not much difference between them and bigger congregations gathering in a building specifically built for this purpose. These people however feel that they brought back healthy intimacy and closer relationship among believers as it was during New Testament times.
We even see the so called “pure” or “authentic” house church movements all across the world and some people may think that these structures and methods properly define what God had in mind when he birthed the church in New Testament times.
My believe is that none of these structures and methods truly define what God is giving birth to in the body of Christ. These structures basically came into existence because of external influences, external pressure and internal needs. The Biblical Ekklesia was birthed by God irrespective of external influences and internal needs.
God is always working for the good of the church and always putting strategies in place in order to develop the church. He is constantly bringing restoration and constantly causing the church to grow, to expand and to develop.
It is a well known fact and a reality among many people who support house churches that the future of the church is the birth and development of the Ekklesia as it was in New testament times. Because of the Biblical principals governing the weekly gatherings of the Ekklesia, this is only possible within the authentic house church setting. The size of a congregation makes all the difference in the world. It always has been and still is the most important factor undermining church structures and church life in the church. We do not doubt this fact for a moment.
More and more people understand and accept the fact that the institutional church probably will not be able to change. If Martin Luther could speak to us today regarding this issue he probably would have told us that the institutional church will rather persecute than change. The institutional church has always been that way and it still is. Yet we have always and we will always give the institutional church the opportunity to change. It is always possible and it might just happen.
This is however not what this post is about. This post is about the current situation in the world relating to house churches.
The big transition
My personal opinion is that proper Biblical house churches do not really exist yet. We are currently in a period of transition. Many people who support house churches or who accepted the fact that real restoration is in the birth of the authentic Biblical Ekklesia, currently find themselves in this period of transition. For them it rather feels like they find themselves in the middle of a desert. Many are very confused and many have no idea why and what they are going through.
Many of those who are actively involved in the house church structures that I mentioned above are often very disappointed. Their experiences of house churches are often not what they envisioned.
House church planters are really struggling because of the many obstacles on this lonely road and because of the lack of interest among Christians. Yes there are house church planters who are successful and who do indeed plant numerous house churches all over the world. Most people are however struggling a lot. Through the years many became dispirited and many gave up completely. In fact, many returned to the institutional church although they did not really want to.
Although confused, many people do understand that they have been called by God for this purpose and although the road is lonely, although they have to face many obstacles and although they lose heart sometimes, they do know and they do understand that they cannot give up. They know that they must allow God to shape them and prepare them for the next step of the restoration of the church that is about to take place.
A season of preparation and a season of equipping
The season of transition is fundamentally a season of preparation. God identified His servants and He called them, mostly from the institutional church, to prepare them and to empower them for this purpose.
These people are His prophets and His instruments of excellence! These people have been prepared for a time like this. Many of them have no idea what is coming. Many are going through difficult times of preparation and hardship. Many of them went through the initial preparation stages within the ranks of the house church structures that I mentioned above. Many have been in the desert since they left the institutional church.
The bottom line is that they all have been and are still being prepared for the real thing! They are willing and obedient instruments in the hand of God. They reported for duty and they are willing to allow God to fulfill His plan and purpose in their lives. No questions asked!
All of us have experienced and are still experiencing very difficult challenges and circumstances when it comes to planting Biblical based house churches. One of the biggest problems is that people are just not ready for house churches and they are just not interested in house churches yet. That is a fact. This makes things very difficult for house church planters.
My message to them is, “Do not lose heart”. We are not there yet. I am convinced that God is now busy with the preparation phases. He is developing and preparing His instruments, His servants, His Biblical based five-fold ministry and workers. When the proper time comes everything will change!
There will be no short cuts
This is one of the reasons why the workers of God need to undergo extensive training and why they all need to go through this intensive preparation phase. The institutional church did not and cannot prepare these type(s) of ministers. Training and development in the institutional church compared to house churches differ like night and day. People are just not able and capable of planting house churches the way God wants them to, unless He prepares and equip them for that. We need this training, preparation and development because there will be no short cuts when the Ekklesia is birthed.
We will not be able to plant house churches if we are not prepared and equipped for that in especially two areas of our faith walk with Christ. We will have to be spiritually developed in these two aspects in order to plant house churches correctly and effectively. I am discussing these two areas of development below. There really are no shortcuts in this respect. Without being spiritually developed in these two aspects you are bound to fail.
One seriously important disadvantage is the fact that the Gifts of the Spirit were never developed in the institutional church. Today, we as Spirit filled children of God actually have no idea what the Gifts of the Spirit really are! We haven’t really seen well developed Gifts of the Spirit in action yet. I think if we could see true and well developed spiritual gifts in action we would be very surprised and even shocked! It would be quite strange to us and we would not be able to handle it like we should. For this reason we need the proper foundation which only comes through proper preparation and proper Godly empowerment.
We really do not know what the Gifts of the Spirit really are! I am not exaggerating! It was never developed in the church of Christ accept for the early days. I think just after the apostles died the gifts of the Spirit rapidly ceased to exist. Paul warned the church against false apostles who will soon viciously resist the Gifts of the Spirit. That happened. Eventually the Catholic church literally put an end to it. For many years the gifts of the Spirit virtually did not manifest at all until the late eighteen hundreds. Although there were Holy Spirit revivals during the nineteen hundreds, even today, the gifts of the Spirit virtually do not exist. We have never even come close to the levels of New Testament times and that was only the start. It was supposed to develop even further. Up to now we only briefly scratched the surface. We really do not know much about the gifts of the Spirit. We have had quite a shallow experience since Pentecost. I am convinced that in the years to come we will see the gifts of the Spirit manifest in a way never seen before.
When it comes to the birth of the Biblical Ekklesia, we all know that this needs to change. I say again there will be no short cuts. The gifts of the Spirit need to be developed in the church before we will be able to plant authentic Biblical house churches. The church needs an absolute Godly reformation when it comes to this aspect of our faith and Biblical community life. Proper Biblical house churches cannot function correctly without the gifts of the Spirit. In fact it cannot function at all without the gifts of the Spirit. People think it can. This is why I really do believe that the true and authentic Ekklesia that complies with Biblical principles and requirements does not exist yet.
This brings me to the second major problem: The gifts of the Spirit cannot be developed unless the children of God have a very close and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Again I say, there are really no short cuts. People need to turn their backs onto religion and embrace Christ alone. Without an all important very intimate love relationship with our heavenly Bridegroom, the gifts of the Spirit just cannot develop in us. I have written a post in Afrikaans, “Wat is ‘n Jesus bediening?” about this serious problem. You need to read this to really understand this problem.
Many Christians and even church leaders are under the false impression that the love that we experience when we get together is enough. Isn’t this the most important aspect of all, the love that we have for each other? Of course love is very important! Of course the gifts of the Spirit need to be built on the foundation of love, however, love can never replace the work and the moving of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit is God (Holy Spirit) in action. That is why the Bible clearly tells us how our gatherings should be conducted:
1 Corinthians 14:26
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
The word love is not even present in this verse. The gifts of the Spirit are! Does that mean love is not important? No, love is very important because without love the gifts of the Spirit will not be effective. Does this mean love should replace the gifts? Absolutely not! When you prevent or block the gifts of the Spirit you are actually preventing the Holy Spirit from working in the congregation! Never make the mistake of thinking that love can replace the Holy Spirit in our meetings because it cannot.
What we see today in terms of house church networks and structures are merely the result of the factors that I mentioned in the introductory part of this post. I do believe that these diversions did carry the approval of God and I do believe that He used it as initial preparation tools in order to prepare us for the real thing that He, I believe, soon will give life to.
I believe as soon as God completed this phase of preparation, this transitional period will make way for a new season. This will be a season of a new birth and newness in the body of Christ. This is what God showed Lana Vawser recently regarding this aspect:
I AM TRAINING YOU MY PEOPLE IN EXCELLENCE LIKE JOSEPH AND DANIEL. THE FAVOR I AM NOW INCREASING OVER YOUR LIFE IN THIS TRAINING WILL CAUSE THE WORLD TO TURN ITS HEAD AND NEW SIGNIFICANT DOORS OPEN TO YOU…
Recently the Lord spoke to me regarding this season we are in as the body of Christ. I felt Him say “I am training you My people, in excellence like Joseph and Daniel. The favor I am now increasing over your life in this “training”, will cause the world to turn its head.”
I saw the people of God in “new vineyards” and they were tending the vines, they then collected the fruit and brought in the ‘harvest’. Their baskets were plentiful. In each “stage” of the process I saw Jesus with them and training them in
EXCELLENCE. He was teaching His people how to steward with integrity, with love, purity, tenderness and care. He was developing humility, strengthening root systems and perseverance.
EXCELLENCE IS NOT STRIVING; PERFECTIONISM OR PERFORMANCE..
Jesus was being very intentional in defining excellence, that it was not striving, performance or perfectionism, but it was rooted in a life of intimacy. Knowing who He is, living in the deep revelation of His goodness and nature and EVERYTHING that His people put their hands to, is worship.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
I watched as Jesus taught His people in EVERY AREA of their influence to be INTENTIONAL. To be PRESENT. To steward and to go the “extra mile”, “above and beyond” in grace, empowerment of the Spirit and integrity.
STEWARD THE NEW – THE JOSEPH’S, DANIEL’S AND ESTHER’S ARE ARISING IN GREATER INCREASE AND FURTHER INTO THEIR GOD-GIVEN POSITIONS OF INFLUENCE – IT IS YOUR TIME OF INCREASED MEASURE AND EXTENSION.
I then heard the Lord say “My people you have been stewarding in the darkness. You have been learning to steward in the caves. I have now brought you out into the “new vineyards” and I am teaching you to STEWARD THE NEW. What you have learnt in the caves, has prepared you to now be trained at a higher level. You are being positioned as Kings and Queens in your area and mantle of influence. I am now training you in excellence like Joseph and Daniel and the world is going to turn it’s head towards you as My favor is released over you and your life. The spirit of excellence I am developing in and through you will attract the Kings and Queens of the earth to you, and you are about to be promoted and increased. Get ready for significant doors to open in the seven mountains, to move in like Daniel and Joseph and bring life giving wisdom and insight to shape people, cities and nations. Now is the time! The time is not ‘nigh’, the time has arrived. It’s now! It’s now! It’s now! Your time in the caves and dark nights of the soul have prepared you for such a time as this. The Joseph’s, Daniel’s and Esther’s are arising in GREATER INCREASE and FURTHER into their God-given positions of influence. It is their time of INCREASED MEASURE AND EXTENSION. This has been the season of governmental anointings being awakened and released and this is about to INCREASE.”
NEW DIVINE HANDSHAKES
I saw “DIVINE HANDSHAKES” taking place all over the world. God is setting up new divine agreements, new ventures, new partnerships and networks – that are going to release His Glory and LOVE into the earth in NEW creative, INCREASED ways that will SHOUT the EXCELLENCE and BEAUTY of Jesus.
“My people are FURTHER taking their place as the “light of the world”, the “cities on a hill”, releasing My Glory and My creativity. Witty inventions, strategies to do life with excellence, abundance and prosperity of heart and soul are about to be released in INCREASE through the further favor filled positioning of My people. My people are about to LEAD cities and nations in greater ways than has EVER been seen before.”
“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:39-41)
“Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him…” (Daniel 6:3)
Whatever your “sphere of influence” the Lord has you placed in right now, the Lord is about to increase you, promote you and accelerate you in favor as you surrender and submit to His process of learning to steward all He has given you with deeper intimacy, humility, integrity and excellence.
I felt the Lord saying that it is going to become apparent in this season those who have stewarded with excellence and integrity, and those who have walked in compromise and complacency. The Lord’s heart for His people are for ALL to be AWAKE, PRESENT and moving in EXCELLENT. The invitation is before us all in this season. Give Him your YES in this EXCELLENCE training. He will give you grace upon grace upon grace to be present, intentional and excellent. Weariness will fall away and tidal waves of refreshment will strengthen you. Every area of your life will flourish with new fruit, increase and resurrection life AS YOU SAY YES!
House churches need to stand in the gap
The Lord recently showed me that His servants need to stay focused in order to be prepared and equipped. The time is fast approaching for them to stand in the gap for the institutional church. They will have to be prepared and ready because the collapse of the institutional church is iminent.
He showed me that the institutional church will lose the appeal that it currently enjoys among Christians. I saw something like a concert on a very professional and well prepared stage. It was just beautiful to watch. The way that this concert or performance was conducted was really good and I could see that people really enjoyed it. Although I supernaturally knew that this symbolized the institutional church in action, it really did not look like a church and it did not look like a gathering of the saints. It looked more like a theater and it looked like a concert.
After watching this for a few minutes I was supernaturally (wisdom) required to look down to the floor for exactly three minutes. After the three minute period came to an end I was required to look up again. When I looked up I discovered that literally everything disappeared from the stage. I could only see the three bare walls and the bare wooden floor of the stage. All the lights, the instruments and all the theatrical property were all missing. Nothing was left on the stage. It was like an empty house with absolutely no furniture, no curtains, or anything else.
Immediately after everything disappeared, the clergy of the institutional church and the members of the congregation that were with me were all absolutely dumbstruck. They looked at me with bewildered eyes in absolute amazement. They all had the same questions written on their faces as they looked at me, “What happened?” “Where is everything?” It was clear that they did not expect this to happen and that they were totally confused, shocked and shaken. I supernaturally knew that God removed the appeal that the performance based programs of the church have on people.
I do not know what the “three minute” time period represents but the performance based programs of the church as we now experience on Sundays will disappear when this period comes to an end.
Even if this explanation is correct, I do not know when this time period will start or what it really represents. I also do not know what is going to happen to the institutional church. I however do know that when these things happen, everything will change. God will bring into existence what He planned all along through His prophets and His workers of excellence.
Although Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world, the Institutional church is already rapidly shrinking. Right at this moment the Church of England is considering closing 16,000 church buildings. They plan on opening these churches only on Christmas and Easter and some other important holidays. Read all about that in the post, “Institutional Church shrinking rapidly“
End Time House Churches:
The Next Five Years
Let me be clear at the outset. I’m not making a prediction. Nor am I prophesying. (That being interpreted means, stoning is off the table.)
What I’m about to share are simply deep impressions I have of what I envision happening in the body of Christ over the next five years. I’m by no means claiming immaculate perception.
But right or wrong, I do expect these things to take place.
- There will be a restoration of the full message of the kingdom of God. Over the last 50 years until the present day, when the kingdom of God has been presented, it’s usually piecemeal (only one or two aspects of it are emphasized), it’s couched in legalism and guilt, or it’s presented in highly academic manner void of any practical application.
- I see this changing over the next five years. The blistering, high-voltage, deeply-subversive, earth-shaking kingdom message will begin to be unleashed in the earth again.
- Many who are called to the Lord’s work, but who are presently in a holding pattern of waiting, will be released to minister.
- A number of well-known leaders from different streams in the body of Christ will begin co-working together. They will no longer stay in their safe comfort zones and religious cliques.
- Related to the above, God will begin laying the groundwork for a powerful ministry team to emerge and cut loose in the world. This team will bear the kingdom message together.
- The Lord will raise up a tribe of Christians whose devotion to Jesus Christ and His kingdom will be just as radical, absolute, and unshakable as the devotion that the members of ISIS have to their cause. (Without the violence and barbarism, of course. I’m speaking about their level of allegiance.)
- A growing number of Children of God will be stirred by the Spirit of God to hunger and thirst for the deeper things of Christ. This hunger and thirst will spread worldwide….
- We don’t have more than 5 Years left to prepare for the Great Tribulation and Beyond ! during this 5 Years we need to Study the Truth . Become full disciples and start making disciples for preparing for the Last Revival / Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a One too One Basis.