Our house church is not Protestant, nor Catholic, nor Orthodox, nor do we fit any other standard associations. We have no legal charter, no corporate property, and precious little organization. We don’t consider ourselves a distinct entity at all.
We are primitivists. Best we can tell, we are simply following Jesus, and don’t pretend there’s no better way to do that. This is simply how we do it. About the only thing which binds us together is our rejection of the notion we have to hold a certain minimum in common with each other beyond what’s obvious from Scripture. What makes us different is the very choice to avoid being exclusive. If you don’t exclude yourself from us, you are a member already.
Granted, there is a structure of sorts, as I wear the title “elder”. We don’t really have anyone who wears the label of “pastor” so far, so I do some of the work that entails. Those are labels in the New Testament we see applicable to our situation, words which simplify the conversations about what we will or won’t do. I’m not better; near as we can tell, this is what God appointed for me. No one has to agree to it, but if you aren’t comfortable with it, try not to get in the way of how we conduct our religion. For whatever reason, folks here tend to embrace my leadership. It gives shape and character to our shared activities. At any moment, at any step of the way, someone who can’t or won’t go along is simply prevented from harming others by their choice to do something else.
We aren’t God’s religion police, and won’t listen if you pretend to be that. If God doesn’t compel you Himself to one choice or another, and you can’t seem to figure out for yourself what you will do, we allow you to watch and work around you. It really does depend entirely on His sovereign grace.
Any one of us could probably find a comfortable place in a mainstream church. While that church might not comfortable with some of the things we teach, it’s not necessary to take over their system and program just to hang out. Most churches are an excellent social atmosphere. The people are more likely to be honest and kind within the group, more likely to help you genuinely however they can, and generally are pleasant for fellowship. That’s as much as they need to be.
What separates us is when the people there begin to assert a demand we can’t fulfill, as a condition for staying around. Even if the pressure is informal, something entirely person-to-person, if it persists, it’s a barrier to fellowship and we may have to leave. That this happens so consistently is how we came to the place of holding our own meetings in our home. It’s the paradox that our freedom constrains them; our comfort discomforts them. If they can’t simply accept us on the terms under which we serve Christ and share with them, they don’t accept us at all.
The closer a church is to a Western human government, and the farther they are from a simple family, the more foreign they are to us, and we to them. Funny how, by our being no threat at all, folks feel threatened.