“In this way an architectural problem turned into a doctrinal problem. The priesthood of the believer was lost.
“The Bible was taken from the hands of the layman and given to the priest. If you are not allowed to decide what it means, why bother to read it?”
THE ROAD TO RUIN
“What really went wrong? As I said, the church got so big and popular that it could erect its own buildings.
“Unfortunately, this solved a long-standing ‘problem’ that should have been left standing: Whenever a healthy house church got too big for its living room, it had to split — into two living rooms. New leadership was thus always being thrust upward through the ranks.
“But when church buildings began to sprout up everywhere, congregations no longer had to face that ‘problem’. No longer was there the awkward anguish of who got to stay with the favorite elders, and who had to split off with the less popular ones. Everybody stayed with everybody.
“The trouble was, sharing and intimacy were tricky in a crowd of 500. The big crowds put much importance on excellent speaking. Therefore, the stuttering new converts started to stay hidden ‘in their shells.’
“Being unknown by one another replaced fellowship. Communication during meetings began to be dominated by the few who had books and could read. In the end, that meant the priests.
“The laity (or non-priests) were citizens of a long-crumbling Roman Empire. They were turned into spiritual ‘eunuchs.’ They lost the strength the Empire needed so desperately at that time.
“By 476, Rome fell for the final time. Then the Church led the way into the Dark Ages.”
THE PROPER USE OF BUILDINGS
We are not suggesting that buildings have no place in the expansion of the Kingdom of God. The Lord will surely give us wisdom and direction as to how to make use of buildings of all sorts in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
However, we must never fall into an unhealthy and unscriptural attitude as to the importance of a building when planting and nurturing churches.
Churches can surely function without the aid of specially constructed buildings. This has been proven in church history throughout the ages. In fact, history shows that the church will actually grow faster and be healthier without church buildings than with them.
The house church movement is only a part of the move of God back to simplicity. God is moving on many fronts to bring His Church into holiness and purity. This has always been His will and design.
It is not as if God suddenly woke up one day to the Church’s need and started a movement to meet it. It is just that finally there are more and more people hearing what the Lord has been saying all the time: “GIVE ME BACK MY CHURCH!!!”
I am convinced that the attitude of the Church should be, “Lord, unless you specifically tell us to build, buy or rent buildings, we are going to plant and multiply churches without them.”