A true church is a group of people who have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ and is not primarily defined by a building. The first Christians did not have church buildings, so they had to meet in people’s houses and there is clear evidence that this carried on into at least the 2nd century AD. There does seem to be something of a resurgence in the idea of house churches these days and certainly in some countries, for example China, where significant growth in the Christian church is happening through house churches.
Our intention is not simply to copy the early church, but we do like the informality of meeting in a house and believe that it is more suitable to the type of meetings that we have. We believe that Christians do not need special buildings to meet with God; He will speak to His people and bless and challenge them wherever and whenever they gather. More important to us is the community of the Church and how we engage with each other.
Our emphasis is on growing as Christians rather than maintaining a large building, and our energies and work are directed towards people knowing God personally rather than working to and maintaining church fabric.
It is difficult to clearly define what has constituted the ‘house church movement’ in modern times but it is generally considered to have emerged in the 60’s and 70s, when there was a growth of feeling that what God calls his Church had got lost in conformity of mere religion and a conviction that the traditional structures, particularly the distinction between clergy and laity, were not consistent with New Testament teaching on the church. People were seeking a deeper walk with God and a more committed fellowship with each other. This coincided with (but was different from) the growth of the Charismatic movement, and several distinct groups appeared, with individuals such as Gerald Coates, Terry Virgo, Bryn Jones and Arthur Wallis becoming prominent. This is sometimes referred to as the British New Church Movement and although some may have begun by meeting in houses, those groups that have survived and grown, such as Newfrontiers and Vineyard have no specific commitment to the idea of house churches and indeed operate on a scale that would make this impractical.
As a Church we are an independent body before God but we have informal links with a network of similar churches throughout the country with whom we share a common heritage, and we do gather together for conferences during the year for teaching and fellowship. This network of churches also first emerged in the late 60’s when a number of independent home groups around the country found common ground around the teachings and ministries of Norman Meeten and George W North. Norman Meeten is a former curate who God had led to leave the Anglican church and start a house church in central Liverpool; GW North was a very powerful preacher whose church in Bradford had been the centre of a remarkable revival and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 1950’s. The emphasis of their ministries and teaching was very much on biblical holiness and the necessity of a personal regeneration (or new birth experience) through the baptism in the Spirit. This network of churches was sometimes casually referred to by others as the ‘Northern Line’ but it has never had an official name, neither does it have any centralised structure or formal organisation.
You can read more about our own part in this history over on the About Us page.