the weblog of Alan Knox

Truly Local Church

Posted by on Oct 24, 2008 in blog links, community | 12 comments

In reality, what is commonly called “local church” today is not really local. Rarely do you find a neighborhood or local church where the people who meet together also live in the neighborhood or the locality.

Jake at “café de soirée” has written a post about “local church” called “More Considerations on the Local Church and Community“. In this post, Jake refers to another blog posts, where the blogger asks the question, “How many have taught, and more importantly lived, vocation as living out your faith literally where you are located?”

Jake lists these suggestions for what we would perhaps see if our churches radically recaptured this notion of the local church:

  • Churches would be smaller.
  • No need for parking lots, or just very small ones.
  • Denominationalism would die… faster.
  • The church would embody a counter-cultural practice that highlighted holistic living.
  • The church would embody a counter-church-culture practice of environmental stewardship.
  • Community would be formed.
  • Mission would become local again.
  • Taxes would go down.
  • Youth and children would not be bound by their ability to find a ride to church.

What do you think of these suggestions? What do you think prevents many Christians from being part of a truly “local church”?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-24-2008


    There are many we can add.

    1. We would open ourselves up to be bothered by a Christian neighbor because I would actually know you.

    2. Gossip will dwindle in the neighborhood.

    3. Neighbors wouldn’t be so ugly towards one another.

    4. We wouldn’t need small group ministries because we really know each other.

    5. No need for satelite churches!

    6. The pastor would be force to get to know his congregation because he lives in walking distance. Relationship will be unavoidable.

    I think what prevents this is:

    1. Denominationalism

    2. Consumer driven Christianity (and churches catering to this consumer mentality to grow numbers)

    3. Celeberity Churches in which either/both the pastor is a celebrity or celebrties go there and enorse it.

    4. Many people want to go where their familes are, but they have moved but are committed to the “family church”

    5. Maybe they want to go where the person who led them to Christ goes and that is pretty far and they win disciples and the cycle perpetuates.

  2. 10-24-2008

    You asked:
    Q. “What do you think of these suggestions?”
    A. Great start.

    Q. “What do you think prevents many Christians from being part of a truly “local church”?”
    A. “Those in their neighborhood would realise they are not living the life they claim to possess”.

    Does that sound cynical? Depends on how realistic we choose to be.
    The “club”(building) is where the game of Pretend is played and folk do their “Christian duty”, and those who see them in their daily life cannot observe the game.

    Maybe I did get out of bed on the wrong side?

  3. 10-24-2008

    Aussie John is not being cynical- He is being sadly realistic.

  4. 10-24-2008

    I’d like to put a spin on your question by addressing a spiritual metaphor of “local”. What I have personally experienced since we started weekly gatherings in our home is that many people just simply don’t desire relationships where all is laid bare for all to see.

    Despite people that have, word for word, told us that they’re “dying for real community and a people that truly love them”, they’re seemingly not willing to trade in their anonymity for vulnerability. Local, by definition means “in close proximity” and I think it represents much more than one’s geographical location.

    I believe intimacy scares people (it sure did me). We must continue to abandon programs and expectations and those that are ready to take the plunge, by the leading of the LORD, will come and find what they are, in fact, longing for.

  5. 10-24-2008

    I like the intimacy and the accountability it would create, living and worshiping in much closer proximity than we do now.

    A question I have is how big becomes big enough to have to split out another church?

  6. 10-24-2008

    When my church was meeting in our home this past summer, we got complaints and the president of our association told me we were not allowed to meet with that many people in our home on a regular basis.

    the point being, the answers to your many questions depend, I think, upon the culture of the community you live in.

  7. 10-24-2008

    Joel, we have had that experience as well with some of the folks in our church plant.

  8. 10-24-2008


    I would complain on behalf of the community, if, as we have witnessed, a group seemed to believe it had a divine right to fill the street with cars, assume that “worship” must be accompanied by as much noise as they pleased, allowing children to run riot while the parents met.

    I have strong convictions that local congregation meetings in homes ARE the right way to go, but, as members of a secular community we must bend over backwards to show love and consideration towards them.

    I personally think 10 is as large as any group needs to grow before looking at extending themselves into a new group. Multiplication of groups rather than additions to one group.

    Again, we have found over a period of 10 years of no complaints, that regardless of the make-up of the community, respect for others, good manners and moderation in all behavior are well regarded.

    J esus first
    O thers second
    Y ourself last

  9. 10-24-2008

    I am part of such a local fellowship for about 4 yrs., where most of the people have bought homes in a modest neighborhood over the last 35 years.I would say most probably had the same grand notions stated on this thread, and most have happened to some extent. But then after about a year reality and the flesh began to set in. Then twenty years later the kids grow to be teenagers, who may be members of the community, but not true members of the church. Then a few get their feelings hurt when the whole church isn’t invited over when a few have a birthday party. Some may think over 100 people should not fit in a house. Others may want to divide into smaller meetings Others may want to get a building to facilitate staying together. And still others may consider getting a building a curse. And each has searched the scriptures and has strong conviction. But perhaps the strongest conviction is that unity is not uniformity as an older brother here likes to say, and that this kind of love and perseverance requires a greater vision than any one of us is singly capable of. After your brother has rescued you out of the fire, you’ll be reluctant to throw in the towel when he offends you, or when you find yourself the only one with true doctrine. So in regards to “neighborhood”, perhaps the stall needs sweeping as much with 100 horses who live in that stall, as it does with 1000 who use their stall infrequently. Maybe as another brother has said: ” There are some things for which forgiveness is the only answer.”
    This kind of life is beyond “housechurch” or “open meetings”. The form must give way to the life. And the life is in the death, which we may choose or ignore, on a daily basis. But not without cost to ourselves or our brothers.
    When only one or two brothers have a vision, combined with gift and talent, he or they can coerce things for a while, but eventually the life is sucked out, the oxygen depleted. But give brothers the space to fail miserably-Romans 14 freedom(Christ- a servant of the circumcision), and respect the priesthood of each, and you will see a rare thing on this earth.

  10. 10-25-2008


    Some home churhces would never get any complaints because they do not actually have any impact on their community and no one even knows they are exist. Some hide in their homes and hide their faith thinking their cloister “safe” from the world and afraid to proclaim the Gospel for fear that they might hurt their neighbors feelings.

  11. 10-25-2008


    j.r. is so right!

  12. 10-25-2008

    Great discussion, everyone! Thank you!

    If you didn’t see it already, notice Hal’s comment: “The form must give way to the life. And the life is in the death, which we may choose or ignore, on a daily basis. But not without cost to ourselves or our brothers.” I think this statement summarizes much of what my blog is about.


    Thanks for you additions and comments. I’m glad that others are thinking about this.

    Aussie John,

    If we’re not being good neighbors, then we’re not being the church.


    I think you’re right.


    You’re right. When the rubber hits the road, we find that many are not interesting in real community. Of course, its easy to hide this when you drive 30 miles to meet with a large number of people. Its harder to hide this when you meet with a smaller group of neighbors.

    Andy C,

    Yes, I think there is a great chance of intimacy when you live with the people that you meet with. How big is big enough? I think it depends on the group.

    Joe (JR),

    Thanks for adding from your experiences. Like I said to Aussie John, being the church means being good neighbors. The answer is not “meeting in homes”, though. Like you said, sometimes culture doesn’t warrant this.

    Like I said to Joel, it is easier for individuals to hide in a larger group. But, you’re right, its also easier for a small group to hide from their neighbors. Why would we want to hide, either as individuals or a group? I simply don’t understand.


    Thanks for the comment that I quoted above. You are spot on! Its not about the meeting place or agenda, but about the life that we share in Christ. Of course, some meeting places and agendas facilitate that life better than others, but we must never lose our focus on the life.