Commentary by Ingrid Schlueter

The woman on the other end of the line with me was distraught. She and her husband were without a church in their area, and they didn’t know what to do. There were plenty of churches, she said, but the choices within an hour of their home were the following: Roman Catholic, a Purpose-Driven circus church of over 2,000, oneness Pentecostal, ELCA Lutheran with a woman pastor, a dried-up Reformed church that had dwindled down to about 15 elderly folks, a United Methodist church that held “Halloween” services, an independent Baptist church that met in a trailer house after a vicious church split, and a Disciples of Christ church with a rainbow flag on their church sign.

“We’re down to listening to sermons online on Sundays,” she said. “If we want to take communion, we have to go to the United Methodist church because they take anyone. Do you think that’s right?”

Some parts of the country are like barren wastelands when it comes to churches. As a result, some have no choice but to worship at home. Most who do this are well aware that things are not as they should be, but they make do, all the while mourning the absence of real fellowship. Many more are in churches that they can barely tolerate for an hour on Sunday. Somewhere between the youth group dance troop doing “worship moves”, the eardrum destroying band on “stage” and the sermon series on sex with the celebrity pastor, they lost the desire to attend “services.” But they go because after all, the kids should go to church.

Many Christian families with children are increasingly concerned about the negative influence of church youth groups that take their cues from the secular culture. These families stay home because they don’t like their children being under the authority of a 24-year-old youth pastor with 26 body piercings and several tattoos. They have a different vision for their daughters and sons than that of their church. In fact, they teach in opposition to what the church teaches. They have no choice but to home church, because finding a family-integrated church is like finding hen’s teeth these days. So they gather at home, maybe with other families of like mind.

A group of baptist leaders recently criticized the move towards home churching. They raised points about the insufficiency of home churches when it comes to church discipline, the right administration of the sacraments, and “well-prepared” sermons. The fact that many churches fail completely on those three points is not mentioned. While I understand why these men are concerned, it’s not enough to be against home churching as a practice. It isn’t enough to tell families to go find a biblical church. You can’t find what is not there in many places.

Our family lived in Greenville, South Carolina for a year. The city had more conservative churches than any area I know of. There were three good ones within half a mile of our home. Several solid churches in the area were tearing down their beautiful buildings to build bigger ones because they were outgrowing their facilities. Meanwhile, in many other parts of the country, there is a spiritual famine. I called one of the pastors of one of the jumbo churches in Greenville one day. I asked him why it was that churches could manage to send missionaries to Paupau, New Guinea, but they couldn’t manage to start a church up in the Milwaukee area. I did not get a satisfactory response. It appears that going to an area dominated by mainline churches is more daunting than traveling 7,000 miles to start churches with pagan tribes.

Until and unless God raises up more Bible-preaching, biblically faithful churches, home churching will continue to pick up steam. We are not in normal times. Exceptional times call for unusual measures, and one of those includes worshiping at home for some Christians who simply have no other choice.(source)

  1. Dear David:

    This is an interesting post from Ingrid. I’m privileged to be one of the pastors of a house church network (six home congregations currently) which was not started for pragmatic reasons, but because we see it as a biblical way to function as a local church. We take the gospel seriously, we have elders who seek to be careful with Scripture, we seek to have a regenerate membership, and we practice church discipline. We love all churches who have the gospel including those who meet in buildings for their main meetings, and we have a great relationship with several of those types of churches in Kansas City.

    In our now seven years of existence, we have heard many misinformed statements about house churches (such as the idea that ALL house churches are family-integrated [which we are not], or that ALL who are part of house churches are angry at the institutional church [we are not]). We are actually hopeful that the starting of house churches WILL “pick up steam” if and only if they are “Bible preaching, biblically faithful churches.” Your readers may be interested to learn more about us at

    Steve Burchett

  2. David J Horn says:


    Thank you for posting this link to your home church network.

    In Christ,

    David J Horn

  3. Tammy Wood says:

    This leaves some points to ponder. I am the wife of a Southern Baptist pastor. When I first read the caption, I felt on the defense because I just returned from church camp where our camp missionary has been on the field in Panama and he talked of there being dozens of church starts in homes. In my mind I think of this as a means to an end, hoping that some of them will grow to the point of needing a building. I realize there are several reasons for home churches….the one I mentioned above and sometimes I think people start home churches because they want to escape all of the bureauracracy, e.i. rules and regulations that are not necessarily Biblical or on the other hand, extreme liberalism. Also, a family who has been hurt in the church may want to start a church. But I feel that if you get very many people involved in a church, most likely some conflicts will arise, even in a home church, because we have an enemy who wants to oppose God’s work. I did like the point the writer made about churches managing to send someone overseas, but not to a local inner city. That is a point well taken.

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