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About HOUSE CHURCH CENTRAL

The reader of these pages will quickly discover an emphasis on the small, local "church" that conforms to the first century model. To other Christians, it might be a "cell" church, a "small group," or even a small assembly of believers that meets in a special building once every Sunday morning. But, where its constituents gather to build relationships and work corporately toward God's agenda, they are regarded as "churches" here--the "two or three gathered in Jesus' name" (Mt. 18:20). Paul liked to encourage each such small fellowship to look upon itself as a Body of Christ, containing all the members necessary to function in an independent and self-sufficient way. But that self-sufficiency did not mean that the house churches were not to communicate with one other, as Robert Banks says:

On the contrary, Paul both initiated and encouraged fellowship between them in a variety of ways. But he sought to build up enduring relationships of an organic, or only loosely organized, rather than institutional, character. This took place through the exchange of letters from their apostle (Col. 4:16), the visits of individuals from one group to another (e.g., Rom. 16:1), the sending of financial aid during time of need (e.g., 2 Cor. 8:11-13), the burden of prayer on each other's behalf (e.g., 2 Cor. 8:14), and the passing of greetings and news through intermediaries... (Paul's Idea of Community, Revised Ed., (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 42).

You might View the HCC as a way to facilitate those personal relationships through the technology of the World Wide Web. This site is not intended to be a "church." It is not intended to be a rule over faith. It's purpose is simply to foster, encourage, and to facilitate house churches by offering resources that can be used among them.

I decided to start HCC at the beginning of 1997 in the hope that God might use it to further the development of house churches at a time when the institutional church appears to be in a period of decline. While conventional wisdom suggests that the techniques developed by the "church growth" movement are the answer to this problem, articles such as Kenneson's "Selling [Out] the Church in the Marketplace of Desire" (Modern Theology 4 (Oct, 1993), 319-348), have caused me and many others to doubt whether the heavy emphasis on marketing methods within that discipline are nearly as theologically neutral as we were led to believe. Furthermore, I have done much research in the house church theology field (the academic world calls it "believers' church theology") and feel that there is a great body of good theology that is simply not getting out to practicing house churches. Since most Christian publishers have an institutional bias, little of this material reaches the house churches along ordinary channels, and this web site is intended to bypass that log jam.

You will notice an occasional advertisement on some of the pages of this site to help defer some of the costs. Care has been taken to use the advertiser of Christian resources, and hopefully you will not find these ads too distracting.

Who writes the material on the HCC site?
While House Church Central started with my own material, I have been working hard to obtain contributions from other House Church writers. These appear on the Resource page, where some of the writings of Professors Stanley A. Nelson, Del Birkey, and Vernard Eller (among others) are now available. Articles, books, and essays for the house church are solicted. Obviously, there are no royalties, and all material added to this site must be considered a gift to the house church community rather than as a revenue opportunity.
What are my goals for HCC?
Someone once said, "Do you want to see God laugh? Tell him your plans!" Alas, what are my plans for HCC? Well, this may seem strange coming from someone with a masters degree in business administration, but there are none. It is simply a ministry to the house churches. At the time of this writing, I am its sole sponsor. So I would hope to continue developing it as long as God gives me the resources and ability as I heed the advice of Eccl. 11:6, "...let not your hands be idle."

What are my qualifications for tackling such a task?
Very few, and I am sure to stumble many times. It is my hope that others will come to my aid and help with the burden. Before I list my credentials, let me give a very bare testimony.

I spent time in Presbyterian and Episcopal congregations in my youth, and continue to have a great love and respect for those traditions even though, in my case, the timing was wrong and they did not really bring me to the heart of God. Perhaps I was too centered on an engineering career to take God seriously. But many years later when, as a practicing engineer in my forties, I re-entered church life under the auspices of a Baptist church simply for the reason that some youth workers from that church had reached out to my daughters at a very critical time of my life. It was there that a hunger for God's word brought me to a strong faith and, eventually, into five years of seminary and two theological degrees. I co-pastored, a full-fledged Baptist church for six years--one with with few enough members to qualify as a house church nevertheless and I continue to work as a free-lance engineer. I am convinced that Christians are to act in the manner of Mt. 25:31-46--even as house churches--and continue participating in that church's outreach to the disabled and disadvantaged.

Most Baptists tend to be evangelistic, but hardly ecumenical. But I greatly enjoy worshipping with my brothers and sisters in other denominations. House church theology did not originate among Baptists, but rather has been the beneficiary of contributions from people from a wide range of Christian backgrounds. There are people who are aligned with a great number of denominations who are present day advocates, so it is my plea that my Baptist training will not be a stumbling block. I pledge here to avoid topics that are divisive unless I feel that they are absolutely essential to house church theology. In those cases, I will try to tread with sensitivity and am always open to discussion with those with opposing views. The HCDL discussion list is one way this may be done, but e-mail is always welcome. You may address snail mail to me at 40 Pikes Peak Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903.

Here is a brief statement of my academic history:

I edited and published A Believers' Church Theology, by Dr. S. A. Nelson, now in its second edition. Dr. Nelson was a popular professor at Golden Gate for many years until his recent retirement, and has been a mentor to me. Many of my own contributions to this site are based on the many classes that I have had with him as a teacher.

Herb Drake, House Church Central.

Acknowledgments

I am greatly indebted to those who have contributed material to the HCC site, especially Dr. Vernard Eller, Dr. Stan Nelson, and Dr. Del Birkey. But others need mention as well: