As people become dissatisfied with the organized religion of our day, often they come out of it, hungering and thirsting for more of the reality and presence of the Spirit of God. In this time, there seems to be a strong movement toward the "house church." The house church is usually a small group coming out of the religious system around us, desiring to come together and know the freedom of the Holy Spirit. As we read about these groups, and as we talk with some who are involved, we sense that overall, there is a lack of revelation in the hearts of men who are laboring to see the purpose of God worked in these small house churches. Many seem to have set aside God's order, and are more or less having a "free spirit" to do what they feel is edifying. But when we come out of what man is doing, we need to come back to God and see what He is doing.
We know that people today are hungry and thirsty for God. That is why we are seeing this movement. It is not confined to America, but is happening in many places all over the world. In China, the persecuted church has met in secret for decades, and perhaps this is where the term "house church" originated. Many of our terms have been copied from what happened in China, and many today look to the teachings of spiritual leaders raised up in China. But what we need most of all is the same Holy Spirit that began to build on the Day of Pentecost, building in and through our lives today. We cannot follow man. We can only follow the Lord.
The "house church movement" has been going on for quite some time. There are many needs within it, and we realize that only God can make the difference. For instance, the church in China is lacking in many ways. Yet there is utter dependence upon the Lord, and His miraculous power works and meets needs in believers' lives. There is a need for gifts of God--teachers and prophets that will come and minister, to build up as God has designed. There is a great weakness in this respect, but only God can meet this need. As God hears His children cry out, men must answer to the call--men that God has prepared, men that are filled with the Spirit and know His working. If this is not so, all we will see is another move of man.
Many movements have sprung up, and they come and go with a cycle of about 20 years, but what God is doing is eternal. If people are hungry, coming out of the organized church of our day, they will now need to have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit working in and through their lives. Only then can they know God's true working, and enter in to know the fullness of what God has prepared for us.
When sincere believers begin to look for a true expression of God's purpose here on earth, these are some of the first questions they encounter:
- What is the church?
- How can I recognize the true church?
- What are the boundaries of the church?