Private Church

When old churches and chapels are converted to homes after a period of redundancy, slate house-name signs are often affixed to them, polite nods to their ecclesiastical past, such as Chapel House, Church House, the Old Chapel and the like. At Criccieth in North Wales, one converted chapel owner has dispensed with the pleasantries, and had written on his slate sign: PRIVATE HOUSE. Perhaps too many were turning up each Lord’s Day and expecting a hymn, a sermon and a free cup of strong tea with accompanying digestive.

Yet some chapels were private houses before they closed their doors for good; perhaps some still are. Even those for which the pastor is not the legal proprietor can be dominated by one individual or one family. Suspicious of strangers and hostile to new blood, they better value their own petty power and position than God’s glory and reaching out to the lost. Well might such chapels close. Well might such churches become private houses- it is what they were all along.

Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7, NKJV