The early church didn’t meet in homes because it was more en vogue than meeting at the temple. Nor did they do it because they were sick of institutionalized religion.
I was thinking recently about some friends of mine I used to have who swore off meeting in church buildings, because they felt it was of the spirit of Babylon or something. They felt that it was unbiblical and since the early church didn’t do it, it’s not necessarily appropriate for us to meet in such buildings either.
As I stated in my article, “5 Things The House Church Movement Is Getting Wrong“,
Merely moving from one large building to a smaller one does not necessarily change anything but the atmosphere and quantity of people that can be comfortably accommodated. We’ll always need a location to have our meetings, so this point is inescapable. However, nothing is changed, just the location and its size. Neither location [house or church building] is inherently more spiritual than the other.
In the New Testament we see Jesus, and his disciples–and the early church for that matter–continuing to meet in temples (remember that on the way in, Peter and John saw a crippled man and healed him in Acts 3?), but they ALSO met in homes out of necessity in that they were regularly spending time together and with each other.
I’m willing to believe that the first century church didn’t meet in houses specifically to buck the trend of meeting in temples. They weren’t likely doing it because it was some trendy thing to do, and the enlightened rebelled against the established institution, per se. They probably did it out of necessity and having no other suitable location in which they weren’t facing persecution.
Think about this; if they had accepted Christ as Messiah and kept going to the temple to worship with people who didn’t also worship Christ as Messiah, then it would have been more likely to be there as a witness. Maybe outright evangelism more than building each other up. It’s made clear in Acts 3 when Peter and John healed the lame man, somewhere along the way meeting in temples eventually no longer was feasible.
So, if you and other people in your new-found faith are going to meet somewhere else as an alternative, where will you do it? The place you already are spending a lot of time together–in each other’s homes, probably.
— Steve Bremner (@FieryCanadian) October 15, 2012
In our Oikos community here in Peru, we have had the majority of our meetings taking place in our homes, and when doing a larger event of some kind, we have rented suitable spaces that could accommodate upwards of 100 people. None of us live in houses large enough to comfortably accommodate 100 people, so this is part of the reason. A matter of convenience and availability, not some kind of decision that “no, we will not meet in a church building” because we’re cooler than that or something.
The early church wasn’t an event trying to persuade people in a consumer-driven culture to attend a weekly gathering at their location instead of in another place. People knew each other. As I mentioned in a previous post, Paul more than likely started the church in Philippi with two families. They may or may not have been acquainted with each other prior to their conversion, but I submit to you that they probably met in their homes at that stage because they had little other alternative and it was something they were already naturally doing based on their relationships with one another.
Not because they were anti-temple.