Over on Gunner Q., I asked why American Christians didn’t simply start home churches. The author replied:
This response is notable, because whenever I ask this question, (as I have, many times) I get precisely this sort of response. It finally dawned on me, this morning, that I’m failing to communicate what I mean.
I will correct myself immediately by defining ‘home church’.
I don’t mean investing tons of money in expensive pulpits, stained glass or lighting.
I don’t mean registering an LLC, or applying for the 501(c) tax exemption.
I don’t mean advertising in print or digital media.
I don’t mean paying some con-artist to “ordain” you as a priest.
Many imagine that priests are required to have special training to lead religious services. This is a depressing illustration of just how illiterate many Americans are.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
This is your certificate of ordination. Congratulations! You are now fully qualified to preach, perform marriage, blessing, baptism and funeral rites, and to give the holy eucharist.
Despite the fancy suit, she is no more qualified than you are.
While the first amendment guarantees that anyone of any religion can legally lead his congregation in America, Protestants have a unique advantage, in that their religious texts and their church fathers have long held up the ideal of an autonomous community of believers.
Christian philosopher Martin Luther declared that every believer is a priest.
St. Paul, the author of the Holy Bible, agrees with Martin Luther.
Jesus, the original Christian prophet, wants you to start a home church.
So, why hasn’t the author of this article started a home church, already? His first excuse is the lack of antifeminist men in California. It is somewhat hard for me to believe that a state with Ronald Reagan’s no-fault divorce legislation (including legendarily punitive lifetime alimony laws) isn’t full of men (of all religions) which have complaints about feminism. Even so, here’s what I’d do:
- Have some very simple business cards printed up with your name, your phone numbers, and your email address. Buy the minimum quantity, but don’t use the cheapest paper or typesetting.
- Don’t call it a home church. Call it a study group.
- Train yourself to look for men who might be a good fit for your bible study, and casually mention it when you find a promising candidate.
- Move toward disruption. If one of your acquaintances is going through a death, a divorce, or having problems with custody, support that man and invite him over.
- Become the alternative to the status quo.
The Status Quo: Priests Blessing an Abortion Clinic
The author’s second excuse includes some criticism of his immediate circle of friends, who don’t want to risk catching SARS or having trouble with the authorities. There’s really no reason why a serious man couldn’t get an account at YouTube during the quarantine, and livestreaming some bible verses, prayer and commentary.
Most confrontations with the pigs happen because of obvious problems that are easy to fix. Imagine two cars, speeding through a red light. The pig on duty has to choose between the Mazda with a broken mirror, and a well maintained four-door sedan. We all know who is getting the ticket. Keeping your lawn mowed, your house neat, and your neighbors untroubled will keep you flying safely under the radar.
If you do get a visit from the cops, it is important to be totally honest and forthcoming. You don’t need to boast about holding organized religious services. You’re just meeting up with your brothers informally.
Social atomization is a very real problem, and it will only be fixed by building the infrastructure of a new society, on the decaying carcass of this one. Starting a home church is the antidote to atomization, not a victim of it.
The concept of the home church is uniquely suited both as a source of strength for vulnerable men, and as a source of social criticism. The home church movement in China has been very popular for decades, and despite constant surveillance, there isn’t shit the government there can do about it.
There has never been a better time…