the weblog of Alan Knox

A Megachurch in Jerusalem?

Posted by on Sep 21, 2009 in gathering, scripture | 34 comments

According to Luke, about 3000 people were added to the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). In the next few verses, Luke gives us a glimpse into the daily lives of these new believers. This is what he says:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)

In this post, I would like to focus on one verse in particular:

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts… (Acts 2:46 ESV)

There is an assumption that the followers of Jesus gathered together as a large group in the temple for “preaching and worship” (think Sunday morning worship service) while they gathered in their homes for fellowship (think Sunday School or Bible study). However, the grammar of this verse does not lend to this kind of distinction.

First, note that the main sentence is this: “they received their food with glad and generous hearts…” This is the main point that Luke is trying to get across. The clauses that begin this verse are subordinate clauses that help us understanding the main clause. So the clauses “day by day”, “attending the temple together”, and “breaking bread in their homes” help us understanding the main sentence and place it in context.

Thus, Luke’s main point in this verse is that the brothers and sisters who were added to the church that day began eating together (gladly and generously sharing with one another).

The three subordinate clauses help us understand more about their eating together. First, they ate together daily. Second, they ate together in the temple. Third, they ate together in their homes.

Now, as far as I can tell, it would have been logistically impossible (not to mention quite improbable) for 3000 people to eat together in either the temple (or temple courts) or in homes. Thus, the idea of “together” in this passage cannot mean “all at the same time and in the same place,” although it does include some idea of gathering. So, for Luke, it is possible for those believers to be “together” and have “all things in common” even though they were not all at the same place at the same time.

So, the common popular perception of 3000+ believers gathering together in Jerusalem for “preaching and worship” (the first megachurch) does not match with the scriptural evidence. Instead, Luke writes that the 3000+ believers ate together, whether they were in the temple or in their homes. Since 3000+ could not have assembled to eat together, he must have been talking about smaller groups.

However, even though these 3000+ believers could not have assembled together in the same place and at the same time, they still considered themselves (and Luke considered them) one church. At this point, it would probably be good for believers to stop trying to justify large gatherings, and start asking why we don’t put as much focus as Luke did on sharing meals together, and why we don’t consider multiple groups gathering together as one church.

(By the way, if you continue to study what the early believers did in the temple, you find that they went there to pray, and to announce (proclaim) Jesus as the Messiah and that resurrection is through him.)


34 Comments

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  1. 9-21-2009

    What are we to make of the feeding of the five thousand? Of the multiple mentions of large crowds following Jesus? Of the post-resurrection appearance to +500 at a time? Was God not glorified and the needs of the people not met by our Lord in these “large gatherings”? We do not need to justify large gatherings as it is God who justifies. The size of a meeting is irrelevant; the purpose, motive, and focus is what counts. One person eats only vegetables; one person eats all foods. The one who eats only vegetables and the one who eats all foods do so with thanksgiving to God for his provision. One believer is drawn to a house church and another to a mass gathering or to a traditional church setting. It makes no difference; God sees the heart and rewards those who diligently seek him. Let us not erect an artificial barrier between people of the same household; we are called to peace.

  2. 9-21-2009

    Tracey,

    I noticed that all of your examples happened in the Gospels before Pentecost. Do you have any examples of the church meeting in large groups? By the way, I’m also not concerned about the size of the group as long as “purpose, motive, and focus” are considered. I think these are usually lost (even in some small gatherings). My post tomorrow is about just that topic.

    -Alan

  3. 9-21-2009

    Alan,
    I specifically cited the gospels as my reference as we don’t know with any precision what the size of the post-Pentecost gatherings were, and Jesus’ example must carry a certain weight as pertains to the topic. The size of the audience did not matter to Jesus when he gave his message to the crowd, and healed them, and fed them, and answered his detractors. If Christians want to point to the size of the assembly, large or small, as justification for their existence they’ve completely missed the boat. My question is to myself: am I being useful to others and glorifying God, and am I motivated by love as part of the congregation? No one can answer that but me. I’ve witnessed the Spirit of God in action in house churches, mass gatherings, and traditional church services. I look forward to tomorrow’s post.

    -Tracey

  4. 9-21-2009

    Tracey,

    I appreciate your continued discussion on this topic. Like I said, I agree that many other factors are more important than size. The purpose for this particular post was to counter many who argue that Acts 2:46 demonstrates that the church in Jerusalem all met together. I do not think the sentence justifies that interpretation.

    As far as the examples from Jesus… do you think there is a difference between the church meeting together and the church proclaiming the gospel to unbelievers?

    -Alan

  5. 9-21-2009

    Alan: Impossible AND improbable? Well, then I doubly agree. ;-)

    Tracey: I don’t hear Alan saying “big bad, small good”. I hear him saying we read the verse and see what we’re already familiar with, but the truth is that what they did and what we (typically) do for “church” are very different. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (?)

    I do think the logistics of drawing large crowds works well for listening to a speaker and any time hundreds of christians need to focus on listening to *one* speaker, a large auditorium works just fine. I would like to see Alan work out more logistics on how the teaching of the apostles was disseminated through the temple and home groups, because it does sound like there was some teaching going on at the Temple, where it would certainly have been appropriate. (But sentence structure notwithstanding, eating there, Alan, really? Do you mean metaphorical eating?)

  6. 9-21-2009

    Alan,

    I recently heard this very megachurch argument (that they all met in one church) to support a man-made formal church membership system. They needed some way to keep track of all these new people, you know. It was a stretch to be sure.

  7. 9-21-2009

    Alan,

    You are correct to point out the text does not support the argument of some in favor of a large single gathering of believers. If we need a proof-text to justify group size we need a new reference, as the N.T. provides no such text. I am encountering some bias from house church practitioners against traditional church structure, so perhaps my initial reading of your post is colored by my own assumptions.And, yes, you are quite correct about our assumptions informing our interpretation of the text, any text. It is most unfortunate when our assumptions become a pretext for stereotyping or labeling other Christians who are expressing their freedom in Christ. So, forgive me if my assumptions clouded my judgment regarding your post.
    And yes, I do believe there is a difference between the church meeting together and evangelizing.

  8. 9-21-2009

    Stevem

    I have gotten that same example, that “were added that day” in Acts 2:41 means that they apparently put them into new member classes and added them to the membership rolls. It makes about as much sense as the lists of widows equating the traditional membership system.

  9. 9-21-2009

    With increasing hostility and ostracism from the Jewish community, Jewish converts had to resort to alternate forms of meeting besides synagogue. No stretch, really as they were already “breaking bread in their homes.” House churches, if we can call them that, were a necessity borne of persecution rather than foresight. The only “megachurch” I can even remotely imagine in the N.T. is in the book of Revelation. Now that is really stretching it. Still, the view of some that house churches and non-traditional gatherings are more “organic” and “authentic” is very real, but perhaps best reserved for another post.

  10. 9-21-2009

    Bill,

    Do you think Deuteronomy 14:22-29 may indicate that Jews ate (or were supposed to eat) in the temple?

    Steve and Arthur,

    I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has heard that argument.

    Tracey,

    Like I said, my post tomorrow will deal with some other issues related to church meetings. I think these issues are often ignored by both large and small groups of believers when they meet together.

    -Alan

  11. 9-21-2009

    Alan – IDK, but these instructions of Moses are for the Tabernacle, at least prior to Solomon, and I don’t think the entire camp crammed inside that little courtyard to have dinner together. “In the place where he chooses” certainly sounds like a reference to their ongoing mobility, again, at least prior to Solomon, so maybe that’s all it means, and I’d guess the implication is that they will eat while encamped around the tabernacle in whatever place it may be – Shiloh, for instance.

    Whether that’s what Luke means or not, I still want to hear your estimate for how many might have been eating in the Temple courts at once. And if eating, why not also listening to the Apostles? Maybe the twelve also distributed themselves night after night, going house to house, but they had to disseminate their teachings somehow… right?

  12. 9-21-2009

    Alan,

    Jumping in, I would read the Deuteronomy passage as at least hinting toward eating at the temple complex. Possible support for this comes from Nehemiah 8:13-18, where, in response to the reading of the law and the realization that the feast of booths had been improperly kept (as in, not at all), some of the people put up booths in the temple courtyard (v16 esv): “So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim.”

    At the very least, feasting in the temple courtyard was not outside their thinking.

  13. 9-21-2009

    The issue really isn’t size, or style… The common denominator between all the large gatherings described in the NT, and all the small, in-house ones, is that they were all FREE! No one reserved, rented or purchased any large “venue” to hear Jesus, or any of the apostles, preach. Whether in large settings, or small ones, the fact is that no one endeavored to construct or organize some special meeting place, they merely used what was available, whether it was a hilltop, a boat close to the shore, Solomon’s porch, or a home. Never did Jesus take a collection to fund his ministry. Neither did the apostles teach disciples to take offerings for building funds, or regular salaries for people. Those underlying financial realities are the “demarcation line” for so many of these conversations. We can talk all day about big vs. small, or “organic” vs. conventional, but in the end, I care more about how you propose to pay for it. If a Christian inherited some big massive warehouse, and wanted to have huge meetings in it, then fine. Fill it up. But don’t start charging people to come and be edified by the Body, or passing the plate to buy new chairs, or instruments, or anything else, because once we start charging “admission” (regardless of how we package it…) then we have wandered down a path that is of this world, and not the Kingdom of Heaven.

  14. 9-21-2009

    Not to mention, that in all the little narratives about Christians meeting in the temple end up with someone getting arrested, beaten, put in prison or garnering more disfavor with the Jewish religious leaders. The temple was not the designated place for Christians to worship, but a perfect place for them to announce Jesus as the fulfilment of all things.

  15. 9-21-2009

    Alan,

    Thanks again for a good article. It must be, because it expresses my own thoughts :) which I’ve held for several decades. Hope that doesn’t sound smug! I simply appreciate your scholarship.

  16. 9-21-2009

    Hi Alan, interesting assertion based on your interpretation of the Greek. You wrote, “Now, as far as I can tell, it would have been logistically impossible (not to mention quite improbable) for 3000 people to eat together in either the temple (or temple courts) or in homes.”

    I will have to look into this. In the meantime, here are my questions.

    Your conclusion is based on two assumptions, first, you rightly understand the Greek where others have not. Second, you trust your logic and reason and conclude that meeting together was “impossible”. the second assertion is not based on the Greek, but on your own reasoning.

    Not saying you are wrong here, just saying these are the elements I will look into.

    Blessings brother.

    PS
    I never get any notifications from your blog on new pots… not sure why. Just letting you know that is why I sometimes forget to check back.

  17. 9-21-2009

    Bill,

    I don’t know if its possible to estimate how many could have eaten in the temple courts together. I think it would have been easier if more people ate in the temple area. I have not looked into this. Yes, I think the apostles taught. I think others taught as well.

    Laura,

    Thanks for the Nehemiah reference. I’ll look into that as well. Most of my research has concerned the synagogues. Several authors suggest that the Jews regularly met as part of their synagogue meetings as well.

    Daniel,

    I agree that size is not the issue. I’m going to deal with some of the issues that you mentioned in my post tomorrow.

    Stephen,

    Yes. It seems that by Acts 5 alot of Christians were staying away from the temple and only the apostles were continuing to proclaim the gospel there.

    Aussie John,

    And I appreciate your comment and continued encouragement!

    Joe (JR),

    I don’t think I’m the only person to suggest that 3000 Christians could not have gathered together in the temple courts.

    Have you subscribed to my feedburner feed (http://feeds2.feedburner.com/assembling)? I’m not sure why you’re not getting notifications.

    -Alan

  18. 9-21-2009

    Hi Alan, didn’t mean to suggest you were alone, but even supported by a host of commentators it does not matter. I was just that these two points predicate your conclusion and before I buy what you are selling, so to speak, I prefer to do my own investigation, research and study of the Word.

    I don’t really like subscribing to comment feeds and prefer the email from ones I subscribe too. Oh well.

    Daniel,
    You wrote, ” The common denominator between all the large gatherings described in the NT, and all the small, in-house ones, is that they were all FREE! ”
    Really, cost is meeting space is the common denominator to all the NT gatherings?

    Funny, because I would kinda’ think like the work of the Holy Spirit, teaching of the Apostles, and a few others might be the common denominator. But given our consumer culture and anti-consumer backlash, I am not surprised that money is all you see that marks off the NT church.

    Hey Alan, you better stop renting the building where your church meets.

  19. 9-21-2009

    Oh, real quick Alan. Any suggestions on resources (books, Journal Articles, etc.) that you like on this topic?

  20. 9-21-2009

    Alan,

    I admire your patience, grace, and humility. You are a better man than me. My tongue is being firmly bitten for the moment. -Jeff

  21. 9-21-2009

    J.R…

    Your sarcastic response seems to miss the obvious point I was trying to make. Of course, what makes the Church “the Church”, is the presence of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts. It is simply those who belong to Jesus, and it is that faith which defines the Body. What I was talking about specifically was the manner in which they gathered in the NT. Whether in large groups or small, nobody was paying to “get in”.

    The conversation as a whole seemed be focusing on the question of whether or not the Early Church ever gathered in large numbers, so that’s what I was responding to. And no matter what stance we take on verses like Acts chapter 2, it’s clear that in some instances, they did gather in some big numbers. But still it was a far cry from how we conduct and rationalize our large gatherings today.

    We can scoff at the idea that how we use money matters to God, and blow it all off as some knee-jerk “anti-consumeristic” reaction. That’s fine. I happen to think that God does care, a lot, when we tell congregations that they are supposed to put money in the plate as it gets passed around, so we can pay for all the stuff we “need” to be the Church.

    In fact, it’s kind of ironic that you said, “I am not surprised that money is all you see that marks off the NT church”, because I’d have to say that “money is all I see that marks off the modern church”! Money is how the conventional church measures everything! It has completely swallowed the consumeristic culture of our day. Things like the Holy Spirit and sound teaching may very well be present in a group, but if a church’s balance sheet doesn’t reflect “growth”, then in eyes of a church’s board, they may as well not be. Show me a modern day church plant that is employing some sort of staff and somehow paying for facilities, and then tell me how long it would last if people stopped writing checks. If we are going to say that the Church is defined by the Living Spirit of God, then it must also be dependant on the Living Spirit of God alone, and not on any type of revenue stream…

    Once a “gathering” becomes an entity with programs and a budget, that gathering of believers has sadly been reduced to a self-preserving machine which then has to operate according to the realities of running a business. To me, that is the line that we should take every effort not to cross, because once we do, it’s hard not get caught in the riptide…

  22. 9-21-2009

    Joe (JR),

    Actually, my conclusion is based on the grammar in the text (Your point #1). The text does not say that all 3000 met together in the temple courts. There are a few books here and there, but nothing that I can think of that covers this topic in detail. I haven’t used the email feature, and I didn’t realize that was the part that wasn’t working. I’ll look into it! Thanks!

    Jeff,

    Honestly, I enjoy the discussion, and don’t mind when someone pushes back.

    Daniel,

    Believe it or not, our group of believers has become less institutional in the last few years. It is possible.

    -Alan

  23. 9-24-2009

    Alan,
    Fair enough, you are a far superior grammarian, I just wanted to do some Greek study on my own using your post as a starting point.

    Daniel,
    You wrote, “We can scoff at the idea that how we use money matters to God, and blow it all off as some knee-jerk “anti-consumeristic” reaction. That’s fine. ”
    Ah, my sarcasm bad… your sarcasm good… Is that really how it works? LOL Personally, I love Paul’s use of sarcasm. Anyway, my sarcasm didn’t miss the point you were making, it was poking fun of the errant point you were making.

    You wrote, “In fact, it’s kind of ironic that you said, “I am not surprised that money is all you see that marks off the NT church”, because I’d have to say that “money is all I see that marks off the modern church”! Money is how the conventional church measures everything!”
    Yes, I noted the irony myself. But this is what happens when a person develops a reactionary theology instead of one that is responsive to the Spirit. We see error (and there is certainly error in the modern church and you are right about their fixation on money) and in our zeal to distance ourselves from the error, we swing the pendulum wide and create more errors. This is what you have done.

    This is also why I enjoy exchanges with Alan. We are not 100% on all things, but I think he comes to his theology in a thoughtful manner and is responsive not reactionary.

    So Daniel, I know guys who are planting churches in apartment complexes in the inner city. These are people who live in 700-1000 sqft apartments. Often their tactic is to meet in a common area usually owned by the apartment complex. Sometimes they can get these rooms free, but sometimes they have to rent. So according to your OBVIOUS NT “principle” that prohibits meeting anywhere that costs money, are the guys renting these rooms wrong?

    But hey, why deal with people you don’t know. If you still think I am wrong about churches renting, let’s ask Alan since you like his posts. Alan, is it wrong for a church to rent a building? Why does your own church rent a building if it is so clear, to Daniel, from the NT that using money to rent buildings is OBVIOUSLY wrong?

    You wrote, “What I was talking about specifically was the manner in which they gathered in the NT. Whether in large groups or small, nobody was paying to “get in”.”
    Paying to get in? I know the old Methodists used to charge to reserve pew seats and thus the Free Methodists were born, but I was not aware of anyone today “paying” to get in. However, if your phrasings is supposed to be some kind of crass reference to churches renting or buying buildings, I think your point is totally irrelevant to the anything written in the NT. There are a lot of things never mentioned in the NT… that does not make them bad or wrong, just not mentioned. But if you want to create your own legalistic conclusion based on the superficial and artificial idea that all churches who rent or buy a building are wrong, I would prefer to read something from Paul the Apostle, not Daniel the blog commenter.

    Our difference my brother comes down to 1 major thing; I don’t assume silence of the Scripture = unbibilical.

    To me, your point is just as silly as those who say, “Jesus never mentioned gay sex as wrong, therefore, it is okay.”

    Or the holiness folks who say women who wear makeup are going to hell (I know, one told me my wife was going to hell because she wore pants and makeup.)

    The problem here is that each of you operates from the same basic hermeneutic that make inference from silence or culture that is rooted in your own feelings. That is not my approach to Scripture.

    One last thought regarding your question about the church plant. You write, “Show me a modern day church plant that is employing some sort of staff and somehow paying for facilities, and then tell me how long it would last if people stopped writing checks.”
    Okay, so if I show you one, will that change your mind or is this just a false question you are hiding behind? Lets find out.

    I am a church planter Daniel. We actually have two guys, me and one other Elder, who are paid… sort of. My original goal in planting was to draw a full salary from this plant. The economy and circumstances have changed our plans. Our church for the first 3 years ministered to mostly single moms and families who were getting laid off and people, like you, who were burned out on church and did not want to give a dime. We had no real income. We never took a public offering in those first 3 years. In the last year things got tighter. Our church barely takes in enough to rent the building we now use.

    The solution, I raise some outside support (like Paul) and I am now working two jobs outside my church so that we can continue the ministry to the community AND so that I will not be a burden on our congregation. Our other Elder (church planter) is doing the same thing.

    If we loose the resources to rent, we will move back into my house (assuming I don’t loose my house to the bank which is a real possibility right now). It would be super crowded, but we will do it.

    So we have run 3 years with very few people writing checks.

    BTW, I gave up a job paying 6 figures to be a paid pastor 10 years ago and I gave up a full salary and benefits to be a bi-vocatinal planter (and yes I would still prefer to be doing ministry without the second job). Right now, my kids are without insurance because we don’t have the finances to do it. But I have never given up on my church family. So since you are into judging people Daniel by how much they spend supporting a church planter or renting a building… How much have you given up to plant a church or take the Gospel to an unreached people group? Or is your main job just judging those men and women are faithful to the Gospel, but chose to manage their fiances differently than you?

    So has my church lasted long enough to past your “biblical test” of virtue? What is your point? I am really interested to hear how you judge me and the people in our church family?

    Do I know churches who are all about $$$. Yeah, pick up a copy of Outreach Magazine, and I can show you a lot. Those are the ones who tend to get the press. But more importantly, I know several churches personally in the city where I minister who are money driven.. I left the staff of a church for that very reason and had no income or job.. but i left because it was right. So I base my opinion on experience, not platitudinous questions.

    Now,iif you are really open to hearing the truth Daniel, I personally know more guys doing church planting for the right reasons than I know guys doing it for the $$$. Maybe the reason you don’t know them, is that you have surrounded yourself with the wrong people.

  24. 9-30-2009

    Alan, got a question for you as I am analyzing this passage.

    First, you write, “However, even though these 3000+ believers could not have assembled together in the same place and at the same time, they still considered themselves (and Luke considered them) one church. At this point, it would probably be good for believers to stop trying to justify large gatherings, and start asking why we don’t put as much focus as Luke did on sharing meals together, and why we don’t consider multiple groups gathering together as one church.”

    Since it was impossible for all 3,000 to meet together, would you agree then that the size of the gathering was determined by the limitations of meeting space? In other words, do you see anything prohibitive of larger gatherings in the text itself? If they were really “one church” as you say, then do you think they would have gathered together in one place if they could have?

  25. 9-30-2009

    Joe (JR),

    I’m not as concerned with the size of the church meeting as I am concerned about what happens when the church meets. Can 3000 people meet together in the manner that we see the church meeting in the New Testament? Sure, there are no set rules that specify exactly what the church meeting should look like, but there are certainly some guiding principles and paradigms.

    By the way, I think its good for Christians to gather together in large groups occasionally. But, if this is the primary way that Christians are gathering together, then I think that becomes problematic and a hindrance to spiritual growth of the church and the individual believer.

    -Alan

  26. 10-1-2009

    Thanks Alan, I know that is how you felt, but I as just wanting to get your insight into how you saw this specific passage regarding size. I appreciate your answer and agree brother.

  27. 7-22-2011

    The point is that the church scattered in groups also gathered publicly. Let’s not over analyze this. Jesus had a public ministry with public gatherings. After Pentecost we see the same pattern. The church is the church whether in a small group, a large gathering, going together as a missional community, etc. Let’s not force our form on the church. Jesus’ church takes many forms. The primary unit is the small gathering but the church is also expressed in other forms.

  28. 11-2-2011

    Not to mention that the temple probably more refers to the temple courts which was more of a market place than a place of worship which is a big reason Jesus went all buck wild on the people there

    Also even if they did go in the temple it was to pray maybe and to evangelize their jewish brethren since the majority of the believers were jews at the time

    Yup

  29. 5-21-2012

    Alan.
    If there were, and still can be mega churches, then according to the glaring absence of scripture on the subject, they seemed to have operated with great success, without pastors, programs or committees.
    The first time I read about any such micro management is when the Greeks complained their widows were neglected and the church created deacons.
    And boy, have we ever milked that cow.
    Though Iv’e rarely been in a church, and never been in a mega church, I suspect that if 3000 lovers of Jesus were to get together every day, preach, teach and share their lives together, they could go for years without serious incident or the need to have top down control. I think this because numbers dont seem to matter when it comes to fruit and unity; whether there are 3, 30 or 300. When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, His presence is what unites and leads us, and when His presence is missing or over ruled, even 3 family members cant get along.
    Form follows function naturally , but when form dictates function, that function is artificial, and meaningless.
    I’m so relieved that God didn’t put in the details of how, how often and how big or small, because if He had, Christians would argue over it just as we do its absence.
    While both are wrong, one is far worse because if those details had been recorded, I fear we would have made them into legal codes for everyone to follow, and the scripture police, courts and prisons would be doing a booming business.
    As many know, the Reformers practiced capital punishment for being re-baptized, among other things, and disagreement over nebulous scripture was the catalyst.
    Somehow we have got to steer the focus away from what we don’t, and never will know, toward what and whom we do know. Leaders must use their talents and ministry to rebuild the temple of His body up in love, demonstrating by teaching and example how the pieces fit together and how all the weight and stress of our lives as lively stones rests on the chief corner stone, and not scripture or church.
    We can’t ever hope to have unity on scriptural understanding, especially when they are unclear about so much, but we could quickly obtain (non ecumenical)unity in spite of denominational and theological borders.
    If we resist the temptation to strain gnats from scripture and instead, encourage one another to good works, doing the 40 plus ‘daily one another’s’ that the scriptures are clear on, I can tell you from experience, we’ll quickly see those borders evaporate like fog in the sunlight.
    Mega church or house church and everything between can be lamp stands, as Revelation describes true churches, if we will hand the steering wheel over to Jesus and let Him drive.
    I don’t think we have much time before deep darkness covers our world, and if we don’t show our kids how to be one body, that darkness will add to their woes instead of drive them to Christ and one another.
    Jesus said to build during the day because the night comes when no man can build.
    That’s something we might agree upon, and build on.
    blessings
    Greg

  30. 5-21-2012

    Greg,

    Thanks for continuing to comment, especially continuing discussions on these older posts. One of the problems that I’ve noticed is when “3000 lovers of Jesus” get together, they do not “preach, teach and share their lives together.” When I’ve asked why, I’ve been told that they all can’t encourage, help, serve, teach, etc. one another because there are too many to do it efficiently. Like I said, this is a problem, and if it’s really caused by the numbers (i.e. 3000), then I think it would be better to gather with less numbers to see more mutual edification.

    -Alan

  31. 5-22-2012

    Wow, that’s amazing. Ive had the same response, in reverse, when I have thru the years encouraged disillusioned church goers to try living out their christian lives in small groups like ours. So it seems neither scripture or existing church models of any kind are sufficient for many, who appear to want to be a believer, but on their terms.
    And again it emerges that folks either belong to churches that have little meaningful personal interaction between everyone and/or they cant imagine church an muchT more than meetings and missions.
    So, Ive been thinking about something and would like your thoughts, and it may in fact be something you would like to take on.
    First, let me pre-empt my suggestion with a few prema facia points.
    1. Language is of course the medium by which we understand and project meaning and intent in speech, and it evolves thru time.
    Frank Viola wrote an excellent blog post on how we probably agree more than disagree, but our different language styles are not recognized by each other, and defenses go up when something isn’t phrased our way.
    2. The scriptures are written in two of the most expressive languages available and lent well to translation, but there is little or no commentary about original intent or context and our attempts to make fill in those blanks has resulted in some serious mistakes.
    3. Scripture is fully self contained as to the revelation of God and His will and plan, but a full treatise of those themes must be compiled from different parts of scripture, and once again, we cant agree upon them either.
    4. Finally, a few years ago, I challenged myself to begin the practice of using only scripture to explain, speak and write about my thoughts, understanding, prayer and experience of God, the kingdom and church.
    Limiting my vocabulary and phraseology to what I can find in scripture proved to be an pleasure, and a difficulty, because as soon as I found a word or phrase I liked, I would look it up and find it meant something different than how I used it.
    I did this exercise for a while because all the verbage and babble that we all employ to explain stuff is really subjective, incomplete, off context et al and it begs the need less talk and more listening.
    So, to that end, here is my suggestion.
    Do you think that a biblical language lexicon based upon the Wikipedia model might be developed?
    The method and content would be developed by consensus input, which is as I understand it, how the early church came to agreement upon matters unclear in scripture and revelation.
    The content would necessarily contain only words and phrases from canon scripture, and material directly related to unpacking their intent, meaning and context.
    Doctrines, traditions, creeds, theology, eschatology etc might be referenced but not taught.
    I see this as a compilation of bible translations, church history, bible dictionary, concordance, lexicons, etymology etc from which students may draw data but which does not draw conclusions.
    Imagine if such a source existed now.
    Our blogs, tweets, sermons, aricles et al would all be able to be critiqued by the newest believer, or someone like myself who gets about an hour a week quality study time, at most.

    Of course, the ultimate objective of such a project is to reduce the cacophony of different and differing voices all trying to push their own view by allowing only the above generally accepted and used material.
    I dream of eliminating 90% of the babbling that passes for teaching and preaching, and that makes it possible to turn a sincere young mind off like a light switch when they listen to two educated teachers argue about non essentials.
    We might even be able to eventually develop an consensus framework of terms, criteria and context from which opposing views might agree to search the scriptures and the will of God with respect to how to be the church.
    Sorry for the longwinded explanation.
    Its late, Im tired and had to get it off my chest.
    Appreciate your input.
    blessings
    Greg

  32. 5-24-2012

    Greg,

    I’ve heard of one or two online projects that are similar to what you are describing, but I don’t have any specific information about them.

    -Alan

  33. 1-7-2013

    And when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD that left the homes as the primary venue for the meetings of the early Christians. I think meeting in homes is so advantageous for the church because it facilitates 1 Cor 14:26- “each one has.” Of course large gatherings of the church have benefits too, but I also understand a primary function in home gatherings in this passage in Acts 2.

  34. 1-7-2013

    Kyle,

    Yes, the church definitely met primarily in homes. However, there are examples in the New Testament of believers gathering in other locations, even outside of Jerusalem. Of course, I think the purpose of those gatherings was the same as the gatherings in homes.

    -Alan

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