House Churches – Are They Real Churches?

House Churches
Are they real churches?

Is a House Church a “real” church? I’ve been invited to one in our neighborhood and wonder if going there would be considered “going to church” by my Christian friends.


The Underground M.O.

My guess is that most Americans would not consider house churches to be “real” churches. That’s unfortunate, too.

Just ask those in the Chinese underground home churches if their meetings consist of the “real” church. Ask those Christians who meet in homes in Darfur or in Pakistan, Iraq, or Iran. In most of the world for the past two thousand years house churches have been the only means for Christians to meet without detection or severe persecution.

House Church Stats

According to Barna research the average size of a house church in America is about 20 people and includes seven children under age 18. Many have been involved in houses churches for less than a year. But, house churches are growing in popularity in the United States.

U.S. House Churches growing in Popularity

Why would there be house churches in the U.S.? Many are older baby boomers who seek a deeper commitment than that typically offered by traditional churches. The other reasons are younger adults who have no interest in traditional churches.

Acts 2 Churches

Acts 2:38-46 provides a good model of a “real” church. In this section we find that the early church admitted people who had repented of their sins and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit (v.38). They devoted themselves “to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (v.42).

“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (v.46).

In this early Jerusalem church they also sold their properties and possessions and shared them with everyone as they had need (v.45).

Summary of Acts Church

To sum up, a “real” church baptizes believers, studies the Word of God and listens to gifted teachers’ bible studies, engages in communion and prayer, and shares with those who have needs.

Definition of a Church

A church is the “body of Christ” (Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:24) composed of all believers from the time of Pentecost to the rapture. It is an assembly of believers in whom Christ dwells and in whom the Holy Spirit resides. It must carry out the Great Commission. And its credibility is seen through the manifestation of spiritual gifts.


Martin, Allie. Christian researcher Barna studies growing popularity of house churches in U.S.

Ryrie Study Bible, NASB. 1996. Chicago: Moody.

Towns, Elmer. 2003. Bible answers for almost all your questions. Nashville, TN: Nelson.