Fellowship: Part 2

Two weeks ago, I shared the first in a series of four articles devoted to unpacking the scriptural example of small groups (like our fellowship groups). This is the second article in that series by Dr. Dan Williams, a long time minister and expert on small group ministries in the churches of Christ.  – Brian Small groups were a practice that was a part of the church from the very beginning of New Testament Christianity.  When small groups are done right there is nothing more scriptural, for four reasons. This week we will look at the second reason: Second, the New Testament contains frequent references to home-based church gatherings:

  • Romans 16:4 “the church that meets at their house”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19 “The church that meets at their house”
  • Colossians 4:15 “The church in her house”
  • Philemon 2 “the church that meets in your home”

In fact, historians tell us there is no evidence that there were ANY buildings dedicated exclusively to Christian worship in the first 300 years of Christianity – that is, there were no structures that corresponded to what we know as “church buildings” today.  How, then, did they “do church”?  The New Testament tells us – they met in homes! This practice of home-based church meetings explains the frequent references to the importance of “hospitality” in the New Testament (1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:1-2; 3 John 5-8; Romans 12:13). This means that when we read the exhortation in Hebrews 10:25 to “meet together” we will be making a mistake if we picture a large worship assembly sitting in pews in a church building with a pulpit at the front.   To do so would be to take the practices WE are most familiar with in 21st Century America and mistakenly impose them on First Century Judea. (continued next week)

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