Citing concern for both the subject matter and the general environment of the public school systems, many parents over the past few decades have chosen to educate their children via home schooling.
In the spiritual realm, the popularity of home study groups in addition to or in place of corporate worship in traditional Church settings has also grown in recent years.
Many have a spiritual appetite that is not being satisfied by the subject matter or environment of mainstream Christianity of our day (1). Many Congregations hear about how one is to be moral and religious, but are suffering from spiritual malnutrition (2).
Many home groups gather together to discuss spiritual issues amongst themselves that are apparently too controversial, sensitive, divisive, or considered politically incorrect to be addressed by pastors behind the pulpit.
Some home groups are members of an extended congregation that gather together to hear a message provided by ministries through the various means of communication available today. Some include the celebration of the Lord’s Supper or Communion as part of their agenda.
The home group concept has drawn the praise of some and the criticism of others within the Christian Community questioning the validity of such activity, especially when it goes beyond the casual discussion scenario to the level of a worship service that includes the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
In the beginning of the Church Age, many of the ancient “churches” started out this way (3). As the groups expanded, the need for larger gathering facilities became a practical necessity.
Pastor-teachers (not priests) were men (4), ordained by existing pastor teachers (5), when they met the Scriptural requirements for the position. Their primary function is to study and teach the Word of God (6).
Congregations celebrated the Lord’s Supper, following the procedure demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ and reiterated by Paul (7). The Lord’s Supper, as Scripture teaches, is for the purpose of bringing into remembrance, not to reproduce, the Person and the Works of the Lord Jesus Christ.
During periods of persecution, past and present, small groups congregated in many diverse settings and environments, concealing the true nature of their meetings from government officials.
Many of the elegant cathedrals of Europe were constructed with funds that were raised by offering salvation and services for money, or from taxes that were received as a result of collaboration with secular authorities during some of the darkest periods of Church history.
What does the Bible have to say about the home group concept?
As far as location, Jesus taught that He is present wherever two or three gather together in His name (8). As far as the altar, the last altar that God acknowledged was the horizontal bar of the Lord’s cross. No other altar was authorized or necessary for the Church. As far as authority, the primary authority and accompanying responsibility is with the pastor-teacher of each (9) local church, who may delegate authority to deacons. As far as formality, there is to be order (10) in the Church with only one male (11) person speaking at a time. The building is not a matter of the physical structure that believers gather in, but the sum of all the individual bodies of the believers (12). There is only one “high priest” of the Church, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ (13). All others “priests” consist of every born again believer (14) in the sense that they, in their position as believers, represent themselves before God. As far as rituals, the ONLY ritual that we are commanded to follow on a regular basis is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, via the procedure and purpose set forth in Scripture. As far as teaching, it must be substantiated by Scripture (15). All true spiritual activity requires the filling of God the Holy Spirit (16).
When Scripture is honored, be it in a cave, home group, or in the most elegant cathedral that Man can construct, we will be the type of worshipers that the Father desires (17).
(1) John 21: 15 (2) Amos 8:11 (3) Romans 16:5/ Col.4: 15/Acts 8:3 (4) 1Tim.2: 12/1Cor. 14: 34, 35 (5) 2Tim.2: 2 (6) Acts 6: 2, 3/John 21: 15/1Tim.4: 13/2Tim. 2: 15 (7) 1Cor. 11: 23-25 (8) Matt. 18: 20 (9) Acts 14: 23/Rom.14: 4 (10) 1Cor. 14: 40 (11) 1Cor.14: 34, 35 (12) 1Cor. 6: 19 (13) Hebrews 2: 17/1Tim.2: 5 (14) 1Pet.2: 9 (15) Prov.30: 6 (16) John 15: 5 (17 John 4: 23
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