Does the house church have a pastor?
It is our conviction that there does not need to be any paid staff members in a church. While we do not see a paid staff member/pastor, as always sinful, we see it as almost always unnecessary in the United States and other prosperous nations. In the US we have ample ability to work 40 hour work weeks and also have plenty of time to serve and study God’s Word. The Apostle Paul gives us a unique example in 1 Thessalonians 2:9; he worked as a tentmaker so he would not be a burden to them. Imagine if the average American pastor was a tentmaker so he did not have to be a burden on his church. Imagine if they took that money and sent a missionary to an unreached people group. Our beliefs of everyone serving also makes it unnecessary for any paid staff member.
What does the leadership of the house church look like?
When you first come into a house church, you probably won't know who the deacons or elders are unless you ask. Leaders are supposed to be servant-leaders rather than having badges, dressing up a bit more than everyone else, or introducing themselves as the pastor.
Is the house church elder-led?
Yes, most house churches are elder-led. When we look in the bible the terms elder, bishop, and overseer are used interchangeably. The term pastor is used rarely, or never, depending on the translation. When the term pastor is used, it means 'shepherd'. When the term elder (or bishop or overseer) is used, it is always plural. There is never an instance in the New Testament where one person is over a body of believers, even if there is a board or group that the one person answers to. An elder-led church offers a commaraderie of leaders that offers mutual encouragement and council. In fact, the whole church should be so close-knit that they demonstrate the great qualities of the trinity. “Consequently, the DNA of the church is marked by the very traits that we find in the triune God. Particularly, mutual love, mutual fellowship, mutual dependence, mutual honor, mutual submission, mutual dwelling, and authentic community.” (Frank Viola - Reimagining Church, 35) (More on Biblical Eldership)
Does the house church have a regional leader?
There are no single leaders. There are no regional leaders.
What is the difference between pastor, bishop, overseer, and elder?
These terms are used interchangeably to some extent. "Not only does the New Testament record the existence of elders in numerous churches, it also gives instruction about elders and to elders. In fact, the New Testament offers more instruction regarding elders than it does regarding such important church subjects as the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Day, baptism, and spiritual gifts." (More Here)
"The system of fathers of the world church, the clergy system of the state church, and the pastoral system of independent churches are all the same in nature...In the Bible there are only brothers. There is the gift of pastor, but no system of pastors. The pastoral system is man's tradition. If the children of God are not willing to return to the position of that in the beginning, no matter what they do, it will not be right." Watchman Nee
In one sense, we have many pastors (shepherds) but none are paid. There are only a couple passages in scripture that people use to defend the position to pay the pastor. "In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:14) First, Paul is primarily defending his right to be taken care of. Regular forms of monetary payment is not mentioned here. We are not being commanded here to pay pastors. Second, Paul is primarily a missionary, not a pastor. Paul is overseeing many churches that he planted, not staying for 10 years with one congregation. If anything, this passage should affirm support for missionaries.
The other popular passage is 1 Timothy 5:17-18, "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,' and, 'The laborer deserves his wages.'" Here Paul gives us two principles. First, we should be more generous with some than others (the elders who rule well). Second, take care of the one who is working. Neither place gives us a command to pay a pastor monetarily and/or systematically.
We do not take the position that it is wrong to pay the pastor. However, many have connected this to buildings, budgets, full-time positions, and hierarchy, none of which can be found in the new testament.