19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 1 Corinthians 16:19-20
Priscilla and Aquila’s house church model is used extensively around the world today, especially in countries where the Gospel is forbidden. By design there’s nothing fancy about the model. People meet in a room or two, sing, pray, preach, share with each other. There may even be some food at the end. The setting is much more intimate than formal church settings we know today with large and expensive land and facilities. The house church concept is not entirely new to us. If we use the words “cell group” or “home group”, the concept is there.
In recent years I’ve visited a number of churches who are undergoing multi-million dollar expansions and rehabs. Even most church growth experts agree that the way to increase in numbers is to plant daughter churches. How do most churches start out? In the homes of one of the parishioners or in small unused buildings. Small and simple.
As mentioned earlier, many underground church to this day meet in house churches. We in the West will never know their names or where they live. Again, that’s by design. I had a friend who lived in one of those countries, and it was my job for a number of years to google his name to make sure he was not associated in any capacity with missionary work in those lands. If it had been known what he was doing there, the people he was in contact with would be at risk and he would be thrown out of the country. Another missionary friend asked that the sound booth stop recording his message because of what he was going to say. He didn’t want anything to leak out of the church he was preaching in.
Pick any country where the Gospel is openly forbidden: Iran, China, North Korea, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia, Sudan, to name a few. Pray for the lay leaders in those lands. They meet under dangerous conditions and are always at risk of being thrown into jail. Pray that God will continue to use these men and women of God to expand the Gospel and to encourage their parishioners. You don’t have to know their names or locations. Know that they exist and that God is wanting to bless them.