Posted by: Terry | June 1, 2009

Home groups are nothing new

“To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home:” (Philemon 1:2 NIV)

To hear some talk about it you would think that Home Groups, Small Groups, or whatever other name is in vogue are something new. Actually they are as old as the church itself.

Ownership of real property by a church was legally uncertain before Constantine. The earliest “church building” we can confirm is from around 240BC. It was near the Euphrates River in Syria, and was a two room house that had a wall removed to make one larger room. The city was destroyed in 256 so it was short lived. Specialized structures for meeting as a church would not flourish until after 313BC.

The congregations in many cities numbered in the thousands so most of the meetings took place in public locations, temples, or even warehouses in Rome. There was a bishop over the church but the real meetings took place in homes. Such was the church at Colossae; there were many members and a number of home churches, one of which met in the home of Philemon.

The resurgent interest in small groups is a response to the increasing attendance of many churches. A pastor may be able to tend to the needs of 60-100 people, but as the membership grows fellowship and community become difficult.

Fellowship and community have been an integral part of the church from the beginning. Jesus prayed that there would be unity and mutual support. He taught it and he demonstrated it. When God blesses with increase it is practical that we as believers connect with other believers in more intimate settings while continuing the larger gathering, just as they did 2000 years ago.

God never intended for us to slip into the back of a 1,000 seat auditorium, sing a few songs, and listen to a great sermon then leave, calling it good for the week. Spiritual growth happens when the teaching of the word and worship are mixed with fellowship and service. The result is maturity, outreach; disciples are made and the mission entrusted by Jesus to his followers is fulfilled.





  1. Amen!

  2. thanks Lisa, good to hear from you

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