This portfolio and thesis explore questions regarding house churches, especially in Poland. The portfolio begins with a review of literature about the 'global house church movement'. Significant sources prior to 1989 are reviewed. Literature that appeared after the fall of communism in Poland in 1989 is synthesized to develop a definition and description of a house church. The portfolio continues with an article on the early Christian transition from house churches to purpose-built buildings for churches. The article uses Roger Gehring's 'House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity' (2004) and Edward Adams' 'Earliest Christian Meeting Places: Almost Exclusively Houses?' (2013) as dialogue partners to examine claims that the early church met 'almost exclusively in houses,' as stated by house church proponents. Other examples of church buildings before the legalisation of Christianity are presented. The article concludes with implications for the church if the consensus opinion of the early church existing exclusively as a house church is incorrect. The portfolio then presents an article regarding the concept of 'sacred space' in relation to house churches. The article examines whether a house church may be perceived as sacred space, especially in Europe. A theology of sacred space is developed briefly, and tools for cultural exegesis are presented to aid in understanding the majority culture perception of sacred space and identify the likelihood of a house church being a viable option. The portfolio concludes with a chapter on methodology of research for a qualitative interview approach to studying house churches. The thesis presents a theological method for using the qualitative interviews to develop ecclesiology. An exploration of various methods is developed, with a synthesized approach using Nicholas Healy's 'practical-prophetic' ecclesiology. This method begins with the question 'what is going on' and seeks to answer that question by presenting sixteen interviews from thirteen house churches in Poland. The thesis continues the theological method by attempting to answer the question 'why is it going on' and presents a thematic analysis from the qualitative interviews that includes input from sociological research done in Poland. The thesis concludes by using Scriptural and academic sources in conversation with house church interviews from the interviews and global house church literature to present four primary conclusions in a practical-prophetic ecclesiology.
|Date of Award||31 Dec 2020|
- The University of Manchester
|Supervisor||Benjamin Pugh (Supervisor)|
- house church
- sacred space