The first Christians didn’t spread the faith by building churches, or cathedrals or even small chapels. These beautiful buildings only started to be built in the 4th century. The Roman Emperor Constantine had a supposed conversion, and he decided to make Christianity the official religion to unite the Roman Empire. This move compromised the gospel with secular power, and we have been living with the consequences ever since. The first Christians were Jewish believers. Initially they continued to be associated with the Temple worship, but they also made much use of their homes for their meetings. God worked in families and in people’s homes in amazing ways.
On the Jewish festival of Pentecost God baptised the disciples in the Holy Spirit in a home. The disciples, who had been instructed by Jesus to stay in Jerusalem and to wait for the gift my Father has promised (Acts 1:4), were gathered together in a house. Then, suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2)
It is not absolutely certain where this happened, but it is widely believed to be the same upper room where the disciples were staying in Jerusalem (Acts 1:13). This was a large upper room and most probably the same upper room where the Last Supper was held (Luke 22:12, Mark 14:14-15). Tradition and Scripture at least indicate it was the upper level of the home of Mary the mother of John Mark. In Acts 12:12 Peter, after he was released from prison by an angel, went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
This good woman Mary had opened the doors not only of her home but also her heart, for the saints to meet there. If we are joining the dots correctly, this was the home Jesus celebrated His last Passover meal, the place where the Spirit was given in power, and the place where many believers frequently gathered together in prayer. It was clearly a significant centre of spiritual renewal in Jerusalem. Yet it was a family home, where many involved were family members or extended family. This Mary was the mother of John Mark, who was converted and discipled by Peter (1Peter 5:13), who also wrote the third gospel. She was also the sister of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), who was a great man and well known. And we know Jesus’ biological family were part of this group (Acts 1:14).
The church (the ecclesia) started in a home. God can work in homes and families in amazing ways.
I believe as we enter a new era in these endtimes the home will become much more significant for sustaining and nurturing the faith of believers, for meetings, prayer and Bible study, and for outreach.