The house church movement is something that fascinates me, especially given my feelings towards the institutional church. So when I heard about some house church guys that would send me a free book I signed up immediately. However if this group is a picture of house church life, then it is not for me. I was looking for freedom, but they served up rules (traditions) that "must" be followed, at least if you want to be a "biblical" church. Personally I would rather be Godly than Biblical.
The book is a collection of articles written by a few men and put together by Steve Atkerson. Despite the number of contributors the book is coherent and they all seem to be on the same page with their thoughts. You can tell that this group has some genuine unity, which for someone who is used to disunity that togetherness was refreshing.
The book seems to be intended to convince the reader to do things the way the authors do things. They cover all kinds of things like; meeting in homes as opposed to cathedrals, communion (Lords Supper) as a full meal eaten each week, meeting on Sunday, leadership by consensus, and other such type things.
I knew the book would be difficult for me from the back cover. They ask this question on the back cover; Did God leave us instructions on how to do church? Then it is answered with; We believe He did. Since I believe that I am the church, and every one who chooses to follow Jesus is as well, I don't have to do it. I am it, so no matter what I am doing I am church. Now that compels me to do things that God would approve of, or at least it should motivate me, admittedly I fail from time to time.
Anyway the idea that God left some kind of commands about meeting together just doesn't sit well with me. Which brings me to the other difference between the writers of this book and myself, and that would be how we view the Bible. They seem to view the Bible as a collection of rules, laws, or traditions that we must follow, and if we don't God is not pleased with us. Whereas I view the Bible as a story that I must find my place in. I see the Bible as inspired, but not inerrant. I look to the Bible for comfort, direction, and a starting place for knowing my God, not as the ultimate answer to everything.
This difference in thinking doesn't bother me all that much, but I get the feeling that it would bother the authors of this book. I could easily fellowship with these brothers, but I am not convinced that they could easily fellowship with someone who thinks so differently then they do.
Thanks Steve, and other guys, for sending me the book. Despite my differing approach I get the feeling that we are striving for the same thing, to follow God with all our hearts and please him with our lives.
Missionary to Nakuru, Kenya. Co-founder of A Future and a Hope, a home for girls.