Many of us have been spending more time than usual within the walls of our houses. We’ve been spending more time with the people we actually live with. I don’t doubt that you’ve experienced both the joys and the challenges of this. If the government models are correct, we are going to have the opportunity to explore these joys and challenges for another month or two.
It’s with this in mind that I was thinking of how the early Christian community was formed in houses. Acts 2:46 tells us they were attending the temple each day. It was there that large crowds gathered to hear the preaching of the apostles. However, those early Christians are also described as daily breaking bread in their homes. While the large, corporate gathering took place within the confines of the Jewish tradition, the Christian faith began to form its unique rhythms of fellowship and worship within the private homes of the members of the church.
Houses were vital for early Christians. This is confirmed by Acts 8:3, where Saul is described as ravaging the church by “entering house after house” and dragging men and women to prison. In light of this, it was a bold believer who offered their house as a gathering place for brothers and sisters in the faith. After coming to Christ, Paul himself wrote to the church at Rome, asking for greetings to be shared with Prisca and Aquila and the church in their house (see Romans 16:5).
Our church loves to gather in large groups and small groups. We are experiencing significant disruption to that desire during this pandemic. However, this disruption gives us the opportunity to reflect on how the rhythms of our life and worship at home are formative to our faith.
We are naturally drawn together within our households for meals. We often watch Netflix or play cards. When one member of our household is sick everyone is affected. In this season, let’s also reflect on how we gather as households to read scripture, pray together, express worship, and use spiritual gifts.
Now, I know that we generally mash these elements together in what we call a “worship service.” This allows us to come together and model what it means to live as the church, all within an hour or so once a week.
However, these elements weave together throughout our weeks in a way that is much less consolidated, but just as vital and life-giving. For example, when I ask the Father to share his love with me, I am communing with him and he fortifies me to better love my family. When we read a chapter from the Bible after dinner, our family can discuss who God is and what he has done. When my wife shares an experience of the Lord’s faithfulness, my children hear a testimony of the Lord’s character and the Lord is magnified. When we pray for our friends and neighbors, we believe the Lord works to meet their needs. In all these things, the Lord gifts us to build each other up in our faith.
In this way we are cultivating the church at home, hopeful for what the Lord is doing in us. I encourage you to consider practical ways you can begin to weave these elements into your household routines. Our life as the church can form rhythms in our lives even as we are at home.