What is the “Underground House Church in China” and is it Biblical to have churches meet in homes?
The “Underground House Church” (家庭教会, jiating jiaohiu) is a general term given to Chinese Christians that meet together without registering with the government.
The Chinese Communist Party has strict rules about where Christians are allowed to meet, what they are allowed to teach, and how they can conduct their services. Those rules are laid out and employed through the government sanctioned churches known as the 3-Self Patriotic Movement Churches.
The 3-Self Patriotic Movement Churches often employ things that many Christians in China do not agree with. For instance, there are many tenets of the Christian faith that the Communist Party are not comfortable with, like a virgin birth, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the second coming of Christ. If these tenets are removed from the Christian faith, then what is left?
There is also the issue of the Great Commission and preaching the Gospel in the most unreached areas until the return of Jesus, as He commanded in Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20. It is unlawful for Chinese citizens to participate in these activities of preaching the Gospel outside of sanctioned areas of the 3-Self Church.
Instead of adhering to these teachings, many Christians choose not to register with the government or attend their sanctioned churches. With no official church building to go to, many choose to meet in their homes, but is this Biblical?
According to the Bible and the activities of the early church, not only is the Church allowed to meet in homes, but it is in line with the earliest Christian traditions and teachings! The earliest Christians of the first century church were also persecuted like believers living in China today. To avoid persecution, early Christians met in their homes. They didn’t see the church as a building, but as a Body of believers (Hebrews 10:25).
Examples of Christians meeting in the home instead of in a ‘church’ building is found throughout the New Testament, so much so that one could conceivably make the argument that it is more Biblical to meet in a home than in a sanctioned building.
Acts 2:46 – “house to house”
Acts 5:42 – “house to house”
Acts 8:3 – “house after house”
Acts 10:22 – Cornelius’ house
Acts 12:12 – Mary’s house
Acts 16:32 – Jailer’s house
Acts 16:40 – Lydia’s house
Acts 18:7 – Titus Justus’ house
Acts 20:20 – House to House
Romans 16:5 – Prisca and Aquila’s house
1 Corinthians 16:9 – Prisca and Aquila’s house
Colossians 4:15 – Nympha’s house
Philemon 1:2 – Philemon’s house
Of course, the earliest records of Christians didn’t just meet in homes; they met in synagogues, fields, seaside beaches, on boats, and many other locations as well.
To learn more about the underground house church of China, its history and the current situation, click below and check out our book, THE UNDERGROUND CHURCH.