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Muslim Questions Is Jesus really the only way to Heaven? How does God judge those who were raised in non-Christian cultures and have been taught their entire life that their own religion is correct, and Christianity is wrong?
What is the difference between religion and spirituality?
Usually unaffiliated, house churches — also called “organic” or “simple” churches — might be as minimal as three people sitting at a kitchen table or as large as 50 overflowing a living room.
Hierarchies tend to be frowned upon, even though ordained ministers, like Don Graves of East Oak Lane, can be found among the faithful.
“But in Meeting House, it’s a family setting, and they met me where I was.” The Meeting House is one of dozens of home-based churches in the Philadelphia area that have been opening their screen doors to Christians who want to shed the trappings, if not also some of the underpinnings, of institutional religion.
They come to re-imagine worship, to practice their faith unencumbered by traditional liturgies — not to mention the burdens of building maintenance, budgets, and programming.
Music might be a ditty composed on the spot by a congregant.
Even mainline denominations are examining the model as they grapple with declining memberships.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church recently accepted two house churches as affiliates to explore new ways of worship that might broaden the base.
“The most grassroots groups can really just make it up,” said Nancy Ammerman, a professor of sociology of religion and an associate dean at Boston University.
“They draw on patterns of study, preaching, liturgy that they already know, but won’t be constrained by any particular denomination or authority that tells them that you can do this or you can’t. They have freedom to innovate.” Because most house churches operate under the radar, their numbers are difficult to estimate.