Discipleship, Shared Life, and Mission
The early church folk were not limited by the need or mindset of buildings. They simply met as smaller groups in people’s houses! These small (perhaps tiny) gatherings were the ignition points of ministry and mission in the areas around them.
One of several examples is noted in 1 Corinthians chapter 16 verse 19, mentioning the church that meets in the house of Aquila and Priscilla. These are sprinkled in the letters almost totally incidentally. They do not need special attention, because they are the norm.
They were places where individuals, couples or a small number of families could come together – sharing life and their common purpose in following Jesus. In that way they nudged each other on in their discipleship. They could also support each other in their witnessing, and their initiative in sharing the good news of Jesus in their respective area.
At Countess Free Church we have been discovering something similar. We don’t know exactly what those early church gatherings entailed, but we are discovering that they can be simple and not complicated. Small little groupings, coming together as all ages for a short simple format that explores a theme, and allows a short part of scripture to speak for itself to each of those present.
Among the benefits of these gatherings is that they do not require complex preparation or any kind of ‘expert’ leadership. They also prove to be a place into which enquirers can easily be invited: small, friendly, and without the much bigger ‘hurdles of Christian sub-culture’ that newcomers have to tackle if they try attend a large church service. Since in the very small each person can contribute something, those of little or no faith find themselves that they too can be part of the journey – discovering faith along the way.
Discipleship, shared life and mission … can be done very effectively in the very small. A place where newcomers can experience the lived faith of others … and catch on for themselves, to embark on their own walk with Jesus.