Now I can expand on the thought that drove me to write about this issue in the first place. Those of us in our gatherings can truly enjoy our time together because we know how our group fits into the bigger picture of the Orthodox Christian life and the communal nature of the Church. [See Update at the end for more....]
Even more important is that, because of the context within which our meetings occur, we know exactly what their limitations are. In other words we know that what we do isn't "church" in the fullest sense of the word.
The frustration and unmet needs especially in regards to discipleship, and teaching frequently expressed by postmodern Christians is due, in part, to the fact that they are expecting their group (whether it be "home church" or what have you) to be what it isn't: The Church.
One of the principle problems with "home churches" is their sense of identity and self-understanding does not have an ecclesial or time-tested spiritual foundation from which to draw from and ground itself. While their intent is good they are not "catholic" in the patristic sense of the word; i.e. they do not live out the faith "according to the whole" has it has been preserved by the Church. In other words, they are trying to create by their own human power that which God already preserved.
This is not to say that there is nothing good going on in them because there certainly is. The Holy Spirit moves where He wills. As I've made clear on this blog, I'm certainly one of the more hopeful observers of the Em-church movement.
But much of the postmodern "home church" movement is man-made, unstable, and prone to excesses. Worst of all it is liable to see itself as having the power to "make up the rules" as it goes along, totally unaware of or sometimes in total defiance to the reality of the historic Church.
It is this point that truly distinguishes our Orthdox home gathering from the postmodern "home church." By submitting ourselves to the incarnate, historic, God-preserved apostolic Church, we are able to be that much more of an expression of the Church.
Of course we should never rush to "criticize cripples taking their first baby steps in physical therapy for not running" but neither should we congratulate cripples who refuse to complete their therapy and then complain when those who have found the true Hospital try and show them what they are missing.
The only thing worse than a group that has ceased to care about the true faith is one who is half-way there and calls it good.