“House church, Home Church, Cell Church, Small group, simple church, it has gone by many names; some mentioned here and some not; Actually, I just call it “church”. It is the way God created His people to be; a community. It doesn’t really matter where you meet as much as how you live.”
House to House
Together as a Congregation…
There are numerous references all through the Old Testament that clearly indicate God’s people have always lived in close community.
.…They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Even from Europe, Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) teachings had a great impact on the early American church. M. Luther said “Those, however, who are desirous of being Christians in earnest, and are ready to profess the Gospel with hand and mouth, should register their names and assemble by themselves in some house to pray, to read, to baptize and to receive the sacrament and practise other Christian works. In this Order, those whose conduct was not such as befits Christians could be recognized, reproved, reformed, rejected, or excommunicated, according to the rule of Christ in Matt. xviii. Here, too, a general giving of alms could be imposed on Christians, to be willingly given and divided among the poor, after the example of St. Paul in 2 Cor. ix. Here there would not be need of much fine singing. Here we could have baptism and the sacrament in short and simple fashion: and direct everything towards the Word and prayer and love. Here we should have a good short Catechism about the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. In one word, if we only had people who longed to be Christians in earnest, Form and Order would soon shape itself.”In 1651 Obadiah Holmes was a Baptist Pastor who was in the American Colony of Newport Rhode Island. “Holmes became associated with John Clarke, John Crandall, and the Newport church. An elderly member of their congregation named William Witter, who was living in Lynn, Massachusetts, was too infirm to come to Newport, so the three men (Holmes, Clarke and Crandall) visited Witter on 21 July. While Mr. Clarke was preaching to Witter and a small group assembled at his house…” Excerpted from Wikipedia
Frontier Preachers and Circuit Riders
Not long after the War for American Independence the Lewis and Clark expedition began in 1804. As the Westward expansion progressed along with the Lewis and Clark Expedition the need and opportunity to “…go into all the world…”(Mt. 28:18-20) became greater and greater.
The trails West were first established by the “Mountain Men” but almost literally, right on their heals, were the brave and fearless “Frontier Preachers” / “Circuit Riders” preaching the “good news” to a wild frontier.
Frontier Preachers / Circuit Riders ventured into the wilderness to encounter Mountain Men, Indians, settlers, tradesman, individuals, families and all they could find to spread the good news. They were called Circuit Riders because they rode a “circuit” that would take them around to families and small Christian groups that were scattered abroad. Circuit Riders on horseback were commonplace in America up into the 1860’s.
Where did these circuit riders go? They went around to individuals, homes, families, groups and occasional large gatherings.
So, Christians should never meet in large, commercial buildings?
No I am certainly not saying that Christians in early America, or anywhere else, never have met or should never meet in large buildings.
The reality is, as long as Biblical relationships are maintained, it really doesn’t matter where we meet. But now the problem is that Americans have become so far removed from our Biblical roots that it is nearly impossible for most to grasp the simplistic lifestyle that Yahweh God designed, Jesus / Yeshua encouraged and America enjoyed up until recent history.
Today, here in America, those who follow God’s design for life are the unusual ones. But it didn’t used to be that way. In fact, this lifestyle is still very typical in much of the world today.
Hopefully God’s ways will once again be accepted as being right in America.
Meanwhile, I’ll see you out in the field,