Wolfgang Simson's 15 thesis

In his book, 'Houses That Changed The World,' Wolfgang Simson argues the case for a return to house churches as the only biblical form of Church:

1.    Christianity is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings: before they were called Christians, followers of Jesus were called ‘The Way.'  Christianity was 24/7 - it was a total way of life.

2.    It’s time to change the ‘cathegogue’ system: after Constantine the Church adopted a religious system based on two elements: a Christian version of the Old Testament temple – which translated into the cathedral – and a worship pattern styled after the Jewish synagogue – hence the term the ‘cathegogue’ (cathedral/synagogue).  This became the blueprint for Christian meetings and worship, and has continued right up to this day.  Baptised as it was in Greek pagan philosophy, it separated the sacred from the secular.

3.    It’s time for a third reformation: in rediscovering the Gospel of salvation by faith, Luther initiated the first reformation - a reformation of theology.  In the 18th century, through movements like the Moravians, there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality – this was the second reformation.  Simson argues that God is now calling for a reformation of the ‘structure’ (the wine skin) – and this will be the third reformation.

4.    We need to move from ‘church houses’ to ‘house churches’: the early Church didn’t build ‘a house for God.'  It cost Stephen his life when he said: ‘God doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.'  The Church is the people of God, and home is where the people of God share their lives.

5.    The Church has to become small in order to grow big: most churches today are simply too big to provide real fellowship – they’ve become ‘fellowships without fellowship.'  The New Testament Church by comparison was made up of many small congregations, of between 10 and 15 people, which divided to form more churches when the group reached around 20, according to Simson.  Many congregations today get stuck around the 200 barrier.  Church growth consultants tell us that it’s difficult to grow beyond this number because of three problems - poor quality fellowship, the need for larger halls to meet in, and the finance to make the latter possible.  House churches on the other hand are small enough to permit deep fellowship, and because they keep dividing, there’s no problem with size or the need to purchase buildings.

6.    Churches were never meant to be led by a pastor alone: no expression of the New Testament Church is ever led by just one professional ‘holy man’ doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding passive consumers.  The New Testament Church was led by an eldership and was networked into a movement led by apostles and prophets who, the Bible tells us, circulated from house to house.

7.    Although we have all the right pieces to do Church, we’ve fitted them together in the wrong way: because of fear, tradition, religious jealousy and a power and control mentality we've created lone ranger ministries, independent churches, and little meaningful accountability and interaction between ministries and churches even in the same locality.

8.    We must encourage the priesthood of all believers: the Church after Constantine divided the people into clergy and laity.

9.    We must develop organic rather than organised forms of Christianity: the Body of Christ should be an organic entity, not an organisational one.  Church should consist of many spiritual families, organically networked to one another.  What has become a maximum of organisation with a minimum of organism, has to be changed into a minimum of organisation to allow a maximum of organism.

10.   We should turn from worshipping our worship, to worshipping God: our worship meetings can quickly develop into rigid traditions which are resource hungry, yet produce little fruit in terms of discipling people, or can become focussed on the worship itself.

11.   We must give more consideration to taking the Church to where the people are: the Church must change from a ‘come’ structure to a ‘go’ structure.

12.   We must rediscover the Lord’s supper as a real supper with real food: the ‘Lord’s supper’ was a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, rather than what we’ve made it - a symbolic meal with a substantial meaning.

13.   We must move from denominations to City wide celebrations: Jesus called a universal movement, but what we have today is a divided body competing with each other, and no longer speaking with one voice to the world.  Jesus never asked his people to organise themselves into denominations or streams.  The early Church was organised according to geography and relationship.  The Church in any region was made up of all the believers living in that area.  We’re to build Church in the locality, not local Church.

14.   House churches are the best option/vehicle when persecution comes: John Noble (Spirit Connect) says: ‘There will come a time when we’ll move to house churches either by choice or through persecution.'  If we live radically for Jesus, persecution will be the natural reaction of the world.  In today's world we need a persecution-proof structure.

15.   The church must come home: where is the most difficult and yet meaningful place for someone to be spiritual?  The answer is at home in the family where everything we do is seen and hypocrisy can be spotted and genuine faith encouraged.  In AD 380 house churches were effectively banned, although from that time to this there have always been those who’ve met in houses - the Priscillan movement in the fourth century: the Celts; the Anabaptists in the sixteenth century; Labadie in the seventeenth century; Spener; John Wesley’s cells in the eighteenth century; the Claphamites, and the early Charismatics in the early 1970’s, to name but a few!  Simson argues that God is in the business of turning the Church back to its roots, to where it came from.  The Church literally coming home.

In his book, 'Houses That Changed The World,' Wolfgang Simson argues the case for a return to house churches as the only biblical form of Church . . .

website designed and maintained by adept