Crowded House core values

I’ve just been reading the Core Values of Crowded House…

1. The priority of the gospel
2. Mission through community
3. Home as the primary location of church
4. Sharing our lives as extended family
5. Inclusive communities
6. Working for city renewal
7. Growing by starting churches and church planting networks
8. Prayer as a missionary activity
9. Everyone exercising gospel ministry
10. Shaped by the Bible

I agree with and like all these except this one…

3. Home as the primary location of church
We want a reproducible model of church without any trappings that might impede freedom and flexibility. We are committed to homes as a context for all or most of church life with home shaping the ethos of church. When congregations use other buildings, those buildings will not be viewed as the main focus of mission.

I’m chewing over it…
I’m not convinced of it yet….
I’m not disagreeing with it yet…
For guys who say they don’t like to use the word ‘church’ it is strange to have it in their core values, and maybe that’s what confuses me. Are they saying:

Home as the primary location of mission? OR
Home as the primary location of fellowship/encouragement/teaching? OR
Home as the primary place of belonging?
Home as the primary location of all of the above?

I guess it doesn’t matter that they think but more importantly what do I think.

At DPC we have small church – small groups – as the primary location of care and personal encouragement but big church – Sunday meetings – as primary for all-together teaching, encouragement and singing and praise. We have mission as central to both of them. I think we could move the missional primary focus to small church, but I thing if we moved everything to small church we’d lose something and not gain anything in doing so.


  1. I like it actually. It’s a good corrective to the problem that plagues Christian communities (and Christian ministers) where the Sunday service is the main door to the faith.

    Yes I want my non-christian friends to come to church. But the reality is that most of them won’t. So my home becomes the missional centre of my weekly existence. There they see me live the gospel life, imperfectly. And they see that Christianity works, notwithstanding my sinfulness. I “preach” on my couch or around the bbq.

    I go to a building on Sunday to meet with all my christian friends. And I think of it as a bit like a weekly ministers conference. It is terrifically encouraging. Yes, when I preach there I preach as though there were non-believers present. Some of them may have been coming along for years. Some of them might be there for the first time. But I don’t think that putting the majority of my evangelistic energies or hope into the sunday service is the best use of my energy.

  2. Hi, Wayne,

    I can’t speak for The Crowded House (TCH), but my guess of what’s going on here is the idea that if following Jesus together is our normal life, then it must take place where our normal life takes place — more in homes than in church buildings.

    Having said this, some branches of TCH have big gatherings as well, which look like most Australian evangelical gatherings I’ve attended — 150 people, singing, prayer, 20–40-minute preaching, even sometimes in church buildings. So it’s perhaps a question of emphasis.

    For TCH, The main business of discipleship and mission happens in ‘gospel communities’ (groups of 10–30 adults who endeavour to share lives and together show and tell about Jesus to those who don’t know him). If you took away the big Sunday gathering, you would’ve lost something, but you wouldn’t have lost your church (whereas I think for many of us, if we lost our Sunday gathering, we might also lose our church).

    Another way of looking at it might be to think about the ‘base unit’ of church. Most churches I’ve been in here in Australia, the base unit is the Sunday gathering, and a subset of that gathering might be part of some other structure. So people will say, “80% of our church are in small groups.”

    For TCH, the base unit is the gospel community: you can’t be part of the church if you’re not part of the gospel community. The Sunday gathering is a gathering of gospel communities, so you might say, “We had 110% of our church at our Sunday gathering last week.”

  3. Thanks Stuart – now I’m back at chewing over it…

    I’m sold on seeing our mission and discipleship in our homes and following Jesus as part of everyday life, I’m also wanting to hold on to the sunday gathering…

    So for me I thing it’s big church AND little church and both are primary.
    not primary and secondary church with one losing out.

  4. I should say, I’m not 100% with the TCH guys, but I’ve learnt a lot from them.

    On this question, one thing I would want to say is that church is a community to belong to, not just an event to attend. It’s not something which exists from week to week, but continuously, day to day.

    Seeing some kind of opposition (in the abstract) between ‘big church’ and ‘small church’ might suggest an event-based mindset. Rather, I’d want to say, “We’re a church (that is, a group of people following Jesus and presenting him to the world). What structures do we need to live effectively as his disciples?”

    In some contexts, this will lead us to have big Sunday gatherings. In others, it won’t. I’m not sure there’s something intrinsically necessary to the big Sunday gathering (see, for example, the early church, the church today in China or India, and so on). But it might be a good thing to do. (For a range of reasons, I think Sunday gatherings are generally good things in rural NSW, for example.) The error is to imagine that Sunday can achieve everything that a church should do or might want to do.

    Having dealt with the abstract, though, it’s possible to see how in the concrete, ‘big church’ and ‘small church’ can be in conflict. That is, if there are lots of tasks and rosters and centralized programmes to fulfil, it can sap time and effort which would otherwise be devoted to relational discipleship and mission. From what you’ve said in the Total Church thread, sounds like you’re on-board with this stuff 🙂

  5. Stuart, I’m finding myself on the opposite side of the argument that I want to be on here!… But in defence of Sunday meetings, realistically, apart from my sermon preparation, outside of the Sunday meeting we have about 6 man hours of cleaning, 4 hours of mowing, 10 hours of music practice, add that up, spread it over 150 people, it’s 8 minutes a week per person. I don’t buy the argument that the Sunday meeting saps time and effort.

    So I’m thinking the reason we’re not good at the missional community stuff (in Dubbo) is not that we’re too busy, it’s more that we haven’t thought about it too much or haven’t had it modelled to us, so we are too scared to or don’t really know how to pop in on someone for dinner or how to open the Bible with them over a meal? I’m optimistic that we can get it going pretty naturally as an outworking of who we are to.

  6. I’m not against Sunday gatherings in principle. I just think it’s a context-by-context question what shape they should take in practice. (For this, we need to be able to describe not just what should be the case, but what actually is the case. Who really is on the rosters? How long does it take? How much time/effort/money does it cost? Could they be spent better elsewhere? What are the real benefits of the gathering? And so on.)

    If you have a lean gathering and 150 people, it’s not a problem. My experience in a number of church plants, however, has been widespread roster fatigue. When there are 50 of you and you’re trying to do a sermon, set-up/pack-up, food, children, music (+ sound and projector), and so on, you can easily be on a roster, say, 7 weeks out of 8. The effort involved doesn’t seem to pay adequate dividends in terms of discipleship and mission. You could get better outcomes by different means. And it can come to define and dominate your church’s raison d’être — people don’t feel like doing much else for discipleship and mission during the week, because their ‘church time-track’ is taken up.

    On the other hand, Sunday gatherings can be excellent if you’re in a larger group, and you’re in a context where your gathering is a key front door for mission, and it leads to excellent relational time (e.g. everyone goes off to eat with one another afterwards). There can still be a job to do, however, to ensure people don’t think that the only (or even principle) place of discipleship and mission is the Sunday gathering.

  7. I believe church should be primarily a social and interactional event, as it is only through social sharing and interacting that messages can be truly internalised and discipleship – the model set by christ – can occur. This means that if we must meet in the BIG house every sunday along with the rest of the ‘football crowd’ and their social butterflying, we MUST at least attend a home group during the week where there is a premium on social interaction, and that means putting social sharing first and not tacking it on very late after the study.

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