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House Church vs Institutional Church


Dear Dr. Usher, 

I used to go to traditional church services, but I was told by a friend that traditional church is not Biblical and that I should attend a home church like the Christians did in the Book of Acts. So I switched to attending a home church. The pastor from the traditional church called and rebuked me for not going to a traditional church, and  he said that home churches are a cult and unbiblical. I am so confused. Who is right?


I would like to take this time to explain what the Bible teaches about what is the church, and the Biblical expression of church in scripture and throughout time.

First, we have to lay down the hermeneutical facts. Our English word “church” is the Greek word “Ekklesia” which literally means, “individuals who are call out of their homes into a public assembly.” This literally means that the “church” are the people, and NOT an institution or building. 

The biggest issue that westernized Christianity faces today is the intentional false teaching by the clergy that the church is an institution (denomination) or building. I believe institutions (denominations) propagate this lie simply for financial gain and dominance. Institutions benefit from this teaching because it teachings people to be reliant upon an institution, and not upon each other. Remember, the Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 that we as Christians are to be reliant upon each other, and not upon an institution.

Now I want to say that I do not personally have a vendetta against church institutions (denominations). I believe God can use it for His Glory. As a matter of fact, He has used it in the past, and He is using it now. After all, God is absolutely Sovereign and He can do whatever He pleases, and use whoever, or whatever He pleases.

I also want to state that I am not promoting the home church movement either. Remember, the word Ekklesia means “individuals who are called out of their homes…” so If we are to stay true to the hermeneutical meaning, then that would nullify our current understanding of home churches.

This leads into my second point, which is the Biblical expression of church. The Bible does not dictate one specific way to assemble as a church. There is no specific liturgy, or order of service. The only thing that the Bible clearly states is that we assemble. The location of where we assemble as the church is irrelevant. 

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