A new kind of gathering; well, an old kind with new elements

A new kind of gathering; well, an old kind with new elements

In the early church, most gatherings were in houses. Church buildings didn’t become common until after the conversion of Constantine in the 300s. This means that when Paul wrote to churches in Ephesians, for example, this probably meant the collection of churches in the city of Ephesus that met in a variety of homes.

We are so used to church that looks a certain way: a formal building that we meet in as a large gathering on Sundays and use for larger meetings and outreach during the week. The virus has meant that our larger gatherings are banned for the moment. We are forced into smaller gatherings. We are now, by necessity, more like the church of the first few centuries.

Yes, we will grieve the Sunday service. There is something very special about singing with many Christians of how great God is. Greeting old friends and new is often a highlight for all of us, and a shot in the arm after a difficult week in the world with few Christians.

But let’s not only grieve. Let’s look for opportunities to gather and encourage in different ways.

Gatherings are not all banned yet; only larger ones. You can meet someone for coffee, or perhaps arrange to meet another family in a nearby park. Fellowship is of critical importance for us and we need to find ways to be together if this is possible.

Usually, we meet people and have opportunities to encourage them because we see them at church services. With that missing, we need to be more proactive. Why not send a Whatsapp to someone to see how they are? Maybe call up those you know are self-isolating for some reason to see if they need anything. Meet one to one with someone to read the Bible; invite another family over for a meal with just a smaller group.

Church is a family. We don’t stop being church because we cannot all gather together at once. Act like a healthy family; keep in touch, gather as you can, pray for one another, work hard to encourage all you can.