A growing number of jesus christ gospel of love – Catholics and Evangelicals alike – are talking about the down-sizing of the established Church as we know it. The rise of House Churches, Simple Churches, Organic Churches, Cell Churches, Open Churches and Church-planting Movements indicate the growing level of discontent with Church-As-Usual. This is true among Church leaders as well as the Christian populace. As one Blogger wrote: “The era of spectator Christianity is now ending because the urgency of our present cultural crisis in America and abroad simply won’t permit it!”
While Christianity seems to be flourishing in Africa, Asia and Latin America, many believe it is dying in the U.S. and is wheezing on its deathbed in Europe and Canada. As America enters what many refer to as the “Post Christian Era” (I prefer the phrase Post Edifice Era), with Islam on the rise and the level of sin in our culture soaring out of control, an alarm seems to be going off deep within the hearts of many followers of Christ.
As was already mentioned, House Churches are NOT exclusively an Evangelical notion. Not only is House Church extremely common among Catholics in China as well as Cuba, but small groups are alive and well in the American Catholic Church, too. House Churches ARE within the tradition of Catholicism and a recent study identified 37,000 small faith communities, and some estimates place the number at 45,000 to 50,000. Like the rest of us, the Roman Catholic Church appears to have recognized the need for laity leadership and a more intimate level of fellowship as a stop-gap to rapidly decreasing numbers in their own ranks. In 1988, Father Art Baranowski published Creating Small Faith Communities: A Plan for Restructuring the Parish and Renewing Catholic Life. His book was a blueprint for establishing small church communities of faith and prayer. (SOURCE: U.S. Catholic, Jan 2002 (Vol 67, No 1). Pages 18-23).
We’ve all seen and heard the reports of the rise and success of America’s Home Schooling movement. The victory of a homeschooled 13-year-old girl in the National Spelling Bee in May of ’97 called attention to the growing popularity and success of homeschooling. Today, estimates of the number of homeschooled children vary greatly with some estimating that there may be as many as 1.23 million kids homeschooled in the United States alone!