As we look into and study our early Church history we find believers meeting in houses for about the first 300 years of the existence of the Church. The Word of God reveals how believers were to meet together and function as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to His apostles and disciples how they were to go out by two’s and find a man of peace in whose house they could begin to meet (Matt. 10:5-15; Luke 10:1-12). Jesus set the supreme example as He sent His out disciples in two’s to start churches in houses with a third person and possibly their family. The church could have been as small as two or three believers meeting together or as large as could fit in a living room somewhere around twenty or so (Matt.18:20).
Jesus knew the importance of two disciples coming together in agreement in prayer and that their Father in heaven would hear and answer their prayers. Jesus also knew that a gathering of at least two or three disciples could usher in His presence into their midst (Matt. 18:19-20). Jesus would have told His apostles and disciples to go build buildings like those who built the Jewish synagogues if meeting in houses would have not been the best way for meeting together. Jesus our Lord knew “house church” would be the best way to meet due to the natural, normal, comfortable environment it provided for both intimacy and accountability. He knew His body or the Church meeting in houses would be more likely to provide intimate relationships among those who chose to meet together.
The intimacy that a “house church” meeting provides among those gathering together makes way for natural relational accountability in the discipleship process. This allows for growth and maturity in both character and in ministry instead of a manufactured accountability that is prevalent in the church. Meeting in houses as the early church allowed all believers to participate and function in ministry. The Lord never intended for His disciples to be passive pew warmers standing on the sidelines watching a one man show and the clock. His disciples were to be active in ministry ministering to one another. Disciples had a reason to stay in prayer, studying the Word of God, seeking to be and stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit in order to come prepared to a meeting to minister. The Lord use those who walk with Him listen for His voice and are sensitive to the Holy Spirit voice and promptings (1 Cor. 15:58; Eph.4:7; 5:15-21; Col.3:16-17; 1 Pet.2:5, 9-10; 4:10; Heb. 6:10; 10:24).
As we study out Hebrews 10:19-25, we will discover in vs.19 it is to the brethren and then the passage tells us in verses 22, 23, and 24, “let us”. It was the brethren who were to minister to one another and we can see this as we take a closer look at verses 24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Notice in verse 24 the word says “let us consider one another to stir up love and good works”. And verse 25 says, “but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The believers were to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works by exhorting one another. Meeting in houses puts the responsibility for the meeting upon every believer being prepared to minister to each other instead of depending upon a Clergy man to do it for us. The smaller number of those attending a house church meeting allows every believer equal opportunity to participate and function in their gifts and to be used by the Lord. Believers grow much faster due to their taking responsibility to hear from the Lord for themselves, study it out, apply it to their own lives, and be able to teach others.
There are also many benefits of meeting in the homes of believers. It is a cost effective way to meet with little overhead, saving believers’ money usually spent on land, development, buildings, electric bills, pastoral salaries, and maintenance. Giving would go to those in action planting churches and reaching the lost, for materials and training to help the Church reach the lost, and to meet the needs within the Church. Those who meet in today’s church buildings generally lack this intimacy and accountability. This is common in many seeker sensitive churches we have today. Although there are many benefits to meeting in houses they are not the key for what ails the body of Christ.
The key is for authentic disciples to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord and to maintain a right heart with Him. It is by learning to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth by maintaining a right heart before the Lord that His grace (the divine influence upon our hearts) is released upon our hearts. The key to receiving His grace is to walk in obedience to Him by maintaining right heart. There is nothing we can do to earn His grace, no going to church, reading our Bibles, praying, or ministry. There is no special place we can go, no building, no service we can attend to receive His grace. We must learn seek Him with integrity of heart and with all of our hearts and maintain a right heart with Him to receive His grace.
Jesus knew there was no need for His disciples to go to a special place or use a special building to meet to worship Him. Jesus said in John 4:23-24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” According to Jesus we are able to come together in small numbers to worship Him without the aid of a special place or building or a special service in a special building. According to the apostle Paul as Spirit filled disciples we can participate and function as the Church in small numbers in houses without the need of a special service and use of a special building.
Many have fallen into the trap of “going to church” to a service in a building, praying, reading their Bibles, and doing good works or ministry out of religious duty without maintaining a right heart. They have mistakenly or evenly knowing made the decision to attempt to earn the Lord’s favour while wilfully walking in disobedience (James 1:22). We cannot and will not ever deceive Him, yet many make useless attempts to try and pull the wool over the Lord’s eyes. The Lord always looks upon the condition of our hearts and knows what is in our hearts even when we do not (1 Sam.16:7; Jer.17:9). We as authentic disciples must learn to keep our hearts right with Him by worshiping Him in spirit and truth. Then and only then we will receive His grace and experience His abundant life in our lives.
Meeting as the church was endorsed by Jesus, the apostles, and the early church for 300 years. We have been doing church wrong for too long, and it’s time to return to the biblical way of meeting in houses allowing every believer to participate and function in ministry.