DALLAS (AP) — To get to church on a recent Sunday morning, the Yeldell family walked no farther than their own living room to greet fellow worshippers.
The members of this “house church” are part of what experts say is a fundamental shift in the way U.S. Christians think about church. Skip the sermons, costly church buildings and large, faceless crowds, they say. House church is about relationships forged in small faith communities.
In general, house churches consist of 12 to 15 people who share what’s going on in their lives, often turning to Scriptures for guidance. They rely on the Holy Spirit or spontaneity to lead the direction of their weekly gatherings.
“I think part of the appeal for some in the house church movement is the desire to return to a simpler expression of church,” said Ed Stetzer, a seminary professor and president of Lifeway Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. “For many, church has become too much (like a) business while they just want to live like the Bible.”
House church proponents claim their small groups are sort of a throwback to the early Christian church in that they have no clergy and everyone is expected to contribute to the teaching, singing and praying.