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A house church or home church is a label used to describe a group of Christians who regularly gather for worship in private homes. The group may be part of a larger Christian body, such as a parish, but some have been independent groups that see the house church as the primary form of Christian community. Sometimes these groups meet because the membership is small, and a home is the most appropriate place to assemble, as in the beginning phase of the British New Church Movement.
Sometimes this meeting style is advantageous because the group is a member of a Christian congregation which is otherwise banned from meeting as is the case in China. Some recent Christian writers have supported the view that the Christian Church should meet in houses, and have based the operation of their communities around multiple small home meetings. Other Christian groups choose to meet in houses when they are in the early phases of church growth because a house is the most affordable option for the small group to meet until the number of people attending the group is sufficient to warrant moving to a commercial location such as a church building.
House church organizations claim that this approach is preferable to public meetings in dedicated buildings because it is a more effective way of building community and personal relationships, and it helps the group to engage in outreach more naturally. Some believe small churches were a deliberate apostolic pattern in the first century, and they were intended by Christ. Christians who meet together in homes have often done so because of a desire to return to early Church style meetings as found in the New Testament. The New Testament shows that the Early Christian church exhibited a richness of fellowship and interactive practice that is typically not the case in conventional denominations.
They believe that Christians walked closely with each other and shared their lives in Christ together. Others believe that the early church met in houses due to persecution, and home meetings were the most viable option to the early adopters of Christianity. Several passages in the Bible specifically mention churches meeting in houses.