Over the past few months I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about the house church movement. I believe that the house church model is, after many years, gaining some traction in the United States. It’s very exciting to me, and I am looking forward to the House2House conference in Dallas later this month.
I have also noticed the rising interest by the mega-church in the house church movement. Their version of the house church, however, might be considered a whole new entity altogether. It is what I am beginning to call the “Sling Church.”
Larger churches want to use technology to project their teaching into house churches. Typically, that technology is either a DVD series, a live streaming feed, or more recently, using “Sling Boxes” to send a teaching feed from point A to point B (point B, of course, being your television set).
A Sling box is a small device into which you plug a camera or other video feed. Then, using your personal computer, you can pick up the feed from across the Internet. For about $200 bucks one can have a global presence via video. The Sling box compresses the feed and manages the communication process in a very cost effective, no-frills-it-just-works, kind of way. There are other ways, of course, to do this, but the Sling box is an easy and cheap method that most church staffs can handle setting up and operating.
So, with the Sling box in operation, you can enjoy your favorite mega-pastor while sitting in a semi-circle in your own home. You are, in fact, enjoying “Sling Church.”
I am sure that there is a “market” for Sling churches, but, are they house churches? I don’t think so. The big idea behind the house church isn’t that it meets in a house. It’s that the leadership is home-based and the group is small. It a local brew, not a product of a large scale bottling and distribution company. House churches are more about the community and less about the teaching. The Sling Church is really an extension of the mega-pastor’s influence. It is an extension of the “mega.”
One of the beautiful things about the church is that there are many forms. When it comes to the mega-church, I am “all good” – I have no need to criticize it just because “it is.” Something does rub me the wrong way, though, as there seems to be an insatiable desire to spread the mega-churches influence into bigger and bigger spheres of influence.
Are these mega-chruches “local churches?” Technology is forcing us to rethink the church. It used to be that one could refer to the “local church” or the “church universal.” Not so anymore. I cannot help but think of them in a sort of “Walmart-ish way.”
That’s why I don’t like calling these efforts, “house church.” The thing that makes the house church unique, though, somehow seems to be getting lost in this newly emerging model.
Let’s call it something different so that we can more readily identify what it is.
It’s the Sling Church.