How did early church meet together?

If we lived 2,000 years ago, what would a church service look like? How did they meet? And, why couldn’t it work like that today?

1 Corinthians 14:26 Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together,

  • one will sing,
  • another will teach,
  • another will tell some special revelation God has given,
  • one will speak in tongues,
  • and another will interpret what is said.
  • But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.

Colossians 3:12-17 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,

  • you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
  • Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
  • Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
  • Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
  • Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
  • Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
  • And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

That doesn’t sound much like a typical church service does it.  How would it work? Where would they meet? No schedule. No building. No offices. No bureaucracy. No hired servants. No church (as we know it today). Just Christians, who meet together, holding each other personally responsible to serve the Lord, and building one another up. Wow!

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I have seen this happen in homes, at coffee shops, at libraries, at schools, and anywhere Christians happen to meet each other. This seems to be the most efficient and effective way of working out our salvation.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:22-25)

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. (Philippians 2:12-18)

We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. (Hebrews 13:10-16)

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4 Replies to “How did early church meet together?”

  1. You, when speaking about “hired servants” are neglecting 1 Corinthians 9, specifically verses 13 and 14. You are also cherry picking and doing it from an incomplete account. The Bible doesn’t go in depth into what happened when a body of believers grew. The typical house only held a few people in those days. What we consider a small one bedroom house was quite opulent at the time so expecting house churches to work for more than 10 or so people is rather ignorant. The same is true when speaking of structure. While the Bible doesn’t specifically describe a particular structure, it alludes that there was and reading letters from people describing Christians, such as Pliney (the younger) you find that the was indeed scheduling, service structure, and meetings outside of the home in areas where it was forbidden. In fact, early Christians quite often meet and taught in synagogues. This is referenced to in acts and several of Paul’s letters. It wasn’t until persecution that Christians started hiding meetings in their homes and abondoning schedules. This was to avoid being killed, however, not because that was how it was meant to be.

  2. I ran across the book and website below and thought you might find both interesting.

    Custom and Command — Encouragement from the scriptures for an unusual new breed of Christians — with some answers for those who might feel critical of them

  3. There was teaching, there was singing, there was praying, there was exhortation in the Christian church, but preaching in the church, or to the church is not once mentioned in the Christian scriptures!
    Paul once, in his first letter to the church in Corinth, said he would declare to the Corinthians that gospel which he had preached to them, which also they had received and wherein they stood. We preach, or report, or proclaim news. But who teaches news? Who exhorts news? We preach the gospel to unbelievers, to aliens, but never to Christians, or those who have received it (by Alexander Campbell in Millennial Harbinger, April, 1862)

    Is this true?

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