Christians, in the beginning of the church, used their homes. That continues today in some large churches. As people seek to return to the “ancient paths”, the New Testament becomes the source book. The restoration principle demands a careful examination of the ancient Christian faith for the purpose of restoration. As one looks to the New Testament in restoring the ancient church in this century setting, a consideration of the use of houses must be made.
While some have worshiped buildings and sanctuaries, the greater danger is that Christians are leaving their networks and neighborhoods to worship in a place away from their community. A large number of folks drive past many congregations to attend the largest or most popular one around.
In Randy Frazee’s book, “Making Room For Life”, he writes about trading chaotic lifestyles for connected relationships. He has written a chapter on “The First Church of the Neighborhood.” He reminded me to think about the need for Christians to have an impact on those who live in their neighborhood. I believe that is what Jesus wanted Christians to do in the first century . . . and today.
The fragmentation in our modern families can come from the chaotic nature of overfilled life. People no longer have relationships that support and encourage them on a personal level. If we are going to have an impact and help those in our neighborhoods that are hurting, we must take our Christianity, our spirituality, our faith, and our HEARTS to them. In turn, it will be a blessing to us.
Someone has said, “For churches to get larger, they must get smaller.” I believe that is true. It seems that is what the first churches did when they met in homes. We all need someone we can trust. We must know each other well, We must know they care about us. Who better than those in own neighborhoods? Those are the people who have kids in the same school as our own. We can develop connections that will help them as well as us.
We can continue to build relationships in our community and we are the bridges people need. We are the Christians who have opportunities to meet their needs.
Some Christians are doing this now. Those who have serious Bible studies, hobby groups, family fun activities, sports groups, etc. In those ways, we are becoming more like the first century Christians. We are the ones who should be and are making the first step in reaching out.
This article was written sometime during the 1990’s. Very thought provoking then and for us now. The author, Kevin Rayner, was at the time the preacher of the Church of Christ in Rochester, Minnesota.