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Houses That Change the World: The Return of the House Churches [Paperback]

Wolfgang Simson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2001
Millions of Christians around the world are becoming aware of an imminent reformation of global proportions within the church. God is changing this revered institution and is making a new collective awareness of an age-old revelation, a corporate spiritual echo that reflects God's desire for the church. In this book, Simson brings to light what God is saying to Christians everywhere. Researched across the globe, he presents the case for the reformation of the church's existence. In a world where the church is being ignored, it is time to bring the church to the people and not the people to the church. Whether it is what we know as church from the last five years or the last five hundred years, no one has truly been able to break free from the structures of the past. Many may see this book as radical, many may see it as a reforming of old ideals but all who read it will be challenged and their priorities refocused in a life-changing way.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Authentic Lifestyle (1 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185078356X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850783565
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 13.9 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overstated but Provocative 15 Jan 2004
Whatever one concludes about Simpson's book, one thing is sure: it will be influential.

For the growing number of Christians looking for a simpler more relational expression of church life, as well as those concerned about effective church planting in secular western cities, this book is a must read, even though its detailed analysis and conclusions may fall short in certain areas.

Simpson's basic thesis is not complex: he argues that the new testament church met predominantly in houses for fellowship, prayer, teaching and the exercise of gifts of the Spirit. These "house churches" in a particular city or region together formed the church in that locality (whether or not they met together with any regularity), were lead by local elders who served as spiritual fathers and were overseen and connected with apostles and prophets who travelled between the churches to teach, care for, and expand the churches' mission into the world.
This pattern, Simpson argues, is normative for today and is in fact being rediscovered around the world.

Negatively, Simpson overstates three main areas. Firstly, he seems to have virtually nothing positive to say about what he describes as congregational style churches, and in fact creates the impression that absolutely nothing of worth has ever come from any of them. A striking conclusion!

Secondly, he states that house churches in the new testament were 12-15 in size and that therefore present day ones should be the same size. In fact, there is frustratingly little hard evidence to indicate the size of such churches in the C1. Perhaps we are not intended to know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A PIONEERING WORK 1 May 2011
Wolfgang Simson's book "Houses that Change the World" is considered a classic by many and probably is the best known book globally on the topic. This may be, in part, because Simson travels frequently and extensively around the world speaking and casting a vision for the house church movement. It has several strengths. First, it gives a whirlwind tour of how the church went from being a grassroots "house church" movement to a bureaucratic institutional "cathedral church." Second, the author has a way of putting words together that catches your off guard and makes you take new notice of things you thought you already understood well. Third, it provides solid philosophical and practical tips on how to start multiplying movements of house churches no matter where you live. Fourth, the 15 theses offered near the start of the book challenge the very framework that many consider to be bedrock truth and challenge us all to get back to the original blueprint of what the church was meant to be - simple, strategic, and scriptural! My main concern with this book, however, is that its biblical analysis was not thorough enough for my liking. Although scriptures are given to argue for a New Testament-style house churches, the scriptures are not assessed closely enough to give anything like a "theology of house churches" or to provide a practical nuts and bolts understanding of what the first-century church was actually like. Footnotes are completely lacking. And it could have been much shorter and made the same, if not greater, impact. Overall, however, this is a very worthy addition to the library of anyone wanting to be a part of what God has done in the past, what he is doing today, and what he is surely doing in the days ahead! Well done Mr. Simson!

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerous book for Pharisees 8 Nov 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I don't often recommend books so highly, but I read this through once and then immediately turned back to the beginning and read it again. And again. I kept waiting to find the fly in the ointment (a few typos was the best I could manage), but this is simply one of the best books written on the subject of the house church. Thankfully, the author repeatedly states, "I'm not here to provide a model for the house church. That's not the point of this book. I simply want to present the theology and value of the house church as a model for true community."
My own admitted bias is strongly against "church as usual," so Simpson's book is of particular significance for me. He goes through some lengths to not judge the church structure, per se, but is firm in his evaluation of where such a structure has led us (and indeed the world) since the 3rd Century.
Ministers and church leaders who are dyed-in-the-wool conservative in their respective dogmas and doctrines will condemn this work outright as a threat to the very church. They will be profoundly wrong in doing so. Simpson presents what many believe is the salvation and survival of the church.
Perhaps this book resonates so strongly with me because I had just finished reading John Eldridge's "Waking the Dead." His chapter on his small group made me weep. That's what I'm looking for. That sense of vulnerability in a safe place, honest encouragement and support, and a place where my own gifts can be recognized, nurtured and called out. Simpson merely reaffirmed that desire in greater dimension and detail.
If you are satisfied with church as usual and simply going through the motions of what looks like Christianity, if you value form over substance, if you value the image of community more than community itself, stay away from this book. Just go to church on Sunday and clutch your coffee and doughnut, do the grip-and-grin and convince yourself everything's just fine. But if you long for something more, something real, something lasting, read this book. Then go do what it says you can do.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Work on House Churches 13 Sep 2004
By Seeking Disciple - Published on
Wolfgang Simson is to be commended for his excellent work on house churches in his book HOUSES THAT CHANGE THE WORLD. The book deals with nearly every facet of house churches. His chapters include:

-The Reinvention of the Church

-House Churches in History

-The Nature of House Churches

-The Fivefold Ministry

-House Church or Cell Church?

-Developing a Persecution-Proof Structure

-No Progress Without Change

-All Change is Practical

And much more! The book is a complete resource for those looking for information on house churches without the radical feel or condemnation usually aimed at traditional churches from house church leaders. Simson writes with grace, clear exegesis of Scripture, and a heart to touch the nations with the gospel.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book!!! 17 Dec 2002
By Paul L. Hudson, Jr. - Published on
Wolfgang Simson presents a vision for planting house churches. 'House church' is the terminology used to describe a return to a more primitive, New Testament type of gathering. These house churches generally have meetings in which believers in the congregation use their gifts to edify one another per I Cor. 14:26 and Hebrews 10:24-25. Many in this movement desire to have strong relationships with one another, rather than a superficial handshake once a week at church meetings.
Wolfgang Simson gives readers a vision of how house churches can be planted, and how these home meetings are a good tool for evangelism. The book describes practical ways in which believers can build one another up in the Lord. His explanation of house churches in church history was very interesting. The book was an exciting read for me.
I got the impression that Wolfgang Simson's view of church government was a bit more like a cell church system put into house church packaging. For example, he presented the idea that a 'pastor' is responsible for many house churches--with the house churches having elders. Many house church advocates see the elevation the role of the one-man pastorate as not scriptural. Wolfgang's view of an apostle as someone who gives others a vision, etc. seems a bit atypical when compared to the views of many house church people in the US. Some see Acts 13 as a model for apostles--with apostles being sent out on evangelistic missions to plant churches. The views presented of five-fold ministries seem similar to institutional cell church views of these roles in the Charismatic movement. The book 'felt' a little like something coming from the Third Wave of Charismatic movement to me.
Another concern of mine is the brief re-hashing of the teaching that 'Nicolaitan' refers to clergy, which shows up in a quote from Watchman Nee. This idea is often repeated in house church circles in the US, but, imo, doesn't fit well with the text in Revelation.
I think Wolfgang's book can serve as a paradigm-shifting book which is especially suited for Charismatics who emphasize the role of five-fold ministry.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It's a good read for those who are interested in such things. I think this book is especially good for Christians who are planning on doing traditional church planting or missions, or a church leader or 'lay person' who wonders why they are unfufilled in a traditional church setting.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best I've read on church 30 July 2001
By John White - Published on
I have several shelves of books on the subject of church and I would rate Wolfgang's book as the best. He combines solid biblical foundations, worldwide research, and practical application to paint a picture of the kind of church that many in the U.S. are hungering for.
I've given out dozens of copies to people who are feeling that there should be something more to church without knowing what it is. I've also used the book to train leaders for house church planting (we've actually planted four so far in Denver).
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! 4 Dec 2002
By atraininmaine - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the most enlightening look at how we are to view church that I've read. For those of you who are sincere Christians but who have questioned the mode in which we typically worship on Sunday mornings these days, this book may help you understand why. Many of the questions and misgivings that I thought that only I was having in recent years about the way that we operate in the local church were mirrored in Wolfgang's book, offering hope that we can get back to a simpler, more meaningful mode of Christian living. As many churches have grown in size, the tendency of church leadership in recent years has been to implement organizational rules and structures made popular in the military or corporate arena, thus establishing better "control" over its members, but unfortunately stifling the work of the Spirit and the personal relationships that are intended to exist between believers in the local church. Wolfgang correctly identifies the root causes of these tendencies to make the church of today operate like a profit-driven business, and suggests not a quick fix that leaves the source of these problems in place, but rather a complete change in the way that we view the weekly gathering of Christians known as church.
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