Sometimes when I talk to house church folks, they look at me sideways when I tell them that I work closely with traditional churches. I served as pastor of one for nearly four years, even as I con- tinued as a house church rebel—came out of that a bit bruised and more grateful than ever for my simple church leanings. In short, I survived—I also work with a Baptist congregation in the area, pray regularly with pastors and attend prayer summits with pastors of “real churches”—wink, wink.
Because of all that, some house churchers act as though I am consorting with the enemy.
I don’t buy that attitude. I mean, really, do we need yet another splinter of the church called “housechurch?” We’re not in competition, here. Let’s face it, there are some folks who aren’t going to do simple church—can’t see why, but it’s true. Could it be that there are people in the world that will respond to the gospel in the traditional church as well as the house church? I’m betting that’s so.
It’s my opinion that preserving the unity in the bond of peace is a top priority. For that reason, I encourage house churches to encourage traditional churches. The Summit network has, in the past, helped a struggling small-town congregation financially. We’ve sent encouraging notes to congregations and visited local churches as a group to encourage them (that nearly backfired when the church we visited thought we might all be potential new members. Oops.) Most recently, it was the privilege of one of the fellowships to use some of their pooled funds to help a local pastor with a scholarship to the annual Prayer Summit.
In spite of the fact that we have grave doubts about the paradigm we call “the traditional church,” that shouldn’t keep us from being supportive of our brethren who labor within it. There is much work to be done on behalf of the kingdom. We can do it more effectively if we build bridges for the task rather than burn them.