As the apostles proceeded to carry out the Great Commission (Matt 28:18–20), they utilized a two-fold approach of meeting in the temple courts for large-group meetings and in the homes for more intimate small-group encounters. Very quickly, the house church became the definitive expression of church in the early Christian movement. In the wake of the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, numerous churches sprang up and virtually all of the New Testament churches mentioned in the letters of Paul were in private homes. The house church remained the most significant context for early church worship, fellowship, and Christian education up to the early part of the fourth century, when Constantine legitimized Christianity. At that point in history, basilicas replaced the house church along with the small-group style of worship, ministry, and teaching. This article will explore the early house church as a model of small-group meetings and how these gatherings served as the context for the ongoing life of the early church.
KeyWords: house church, small group, cell group