Why We Meet in Homes
"The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered." (Augsburg Confession, Article VII)
The New Testament Scriptures say nothing about where Christians should or should not meet. Therefore it is important that the church maintains its liberty on this issue. Until around A.D. 300, Christians seem to have met predominantly in homes. Some churches may have good reasons for owning land and buildings, but it is also legitimate for a group of believers to carefully consider whether they need or want to spend money in this way. Consider the following:
- When the church meets in homes, it eliminates expenses related to the purchasing of land, erecting buildings, paying mortgages, and maintaining facilities. Owning land and buildings absorbs much of the money given by the church—money that could be used to fund missionary work and provide care for the abandoned, unwanted, and needy people of our communities and world.
- When a church meets in a home, the size of that particular gathering is limited to the number of persons who can fit into that house, but that need not limit the growth of the church. When a church grows beyond the capacity of a single house, it expands to a second home, and then to a third, and so on. The goal of keeping the church simple and inexpensive is maintained while the network expands throughout a city or community.
- When the church meets in homes, it is more difficult to sit on the sidelines as a spectator. The traditional expectation that the gatherings of believers should be pastor-to-pew “services” is minimized. Everyone gets to know each other and all are encouraged to participate in a way that edifies the entire fellowship.
- When the church meets in homes, it encourages the practice and opportunity for hospitality. Depending on a church's situation, it may choose to meet regularly in one home or rotate among several homes. Opening one’s home to the gathering of believers, especially on a regular basis, involves a clear demonstration of gracious hospitality.
- When the church meets in homes, it limits the tendency to refer to or regard a building as the church. The NT makes it very clear that the church consists of the people of God and that God has chosen to dwell in them, not in a building. Part of the problem with the church erecting buildings is that both the people of God and the community at large begin to think of the building as the church or temple. Sadly, many Christians seem more attached to their church building than they are to Christ.
- When the church meets in homes, it does not limit the size of the Body of Christ. Rather, the Body of Christ simply chooses to meet in many more neighborhoods of the city or community. For example, if an institutional or traditional church with 80-100 participants becomes a half-dozen or more NT-style churches meeting in houses (with 12-20 persons in each), the Body of Christ is not in any way diminished. While we tend to think there is greater power and effectiveness if we gather in larger numbers, God's Word shows us that the church's power is found only in Him, not in the size of our group.
See more Frequently Asked Questions here.