Barefoot in the Church

In doing my work for Elevate Detroit, Mike gave me a couple books to read up on that were inspirational in the formation and work of Elevate.  Several of them I had read before, which should be no surprise since Mike and I have very similar feelings about the poverty, community that the Christian response to those things.

One of the books however is a book called Barefoot in the Church.  You probably haven’t heard of it, and as of this writing if you google it, you will only find one link on the first pages that has anything to do with this book at all.

Barefoot was written by Donald R. Allen.  It is the story of a house church that started in the late 1950s, written nostalgically from 1972.  Allen not only examines this specific community, but discusses aspects of many intentional communities and house churches that he visited across the country while researching this book.

His community, Trinity, was started by a local established church in hopes that a new expression of church would draw in people who were otherwise uncomfortable with established churches, and it seems to have worked.  Barefoot speaks to the need to have a variety of church styles to reach a variety of people.  This means we need big church, small church, old church, young church, seeker church, scholar church, house church, organized church spontaneous church, etc to reach people who respond best to those genres of community.

This is, of course, at odds with most “house church” movements I have seen or been involved in.  Typically they are much less interested in reaching new people and just more interested in coming over to a friends house in their pajamas to bitch about church and think they are cool because they call it church.  Real house churches don’t see themselves at odds with larger churches, they see themselves as a different expression of the same reality.

I will leave you with one of the early quotes from the book about the unique challenges of house churches today”

“Ancient house churches sought to grow in virgin soil, the house church of today must rediscover roots in an overworked ground.”


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About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: Flickr:

One response to “Barefoot in the Church”

  1. Moses Kimani says :

    Hi Cole! My name is Moses Kimani from Nairobi, Kenya. Interestingly, I bought Barefoot in the Church about 10 years ago. I chose not to read it then, based on its date of publishing, thinking that it would sound old. How wrong I was! 5 years ago, I was involved in an experimental house church. I’m now thinking of going back that way. Now as I read the book, I’m surprised at how ‘relevant’ Barefoot is. Donald Allen might have been a minister ahead of his time, I think. And I agree with you that he brings a mature perspective that needs to be listened to by those ‘doing’ house church today. I hope to be done reading it by end of week.

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