House Church Formation – Part 1 – When And Why Did The Institutional Church Begin?
In this series we will be looking at the House Church model, its Biblical basis, and hopefully cast a compelling vision for embracing House Churches as a viable and effective way of meeting as the church, as well as extending the Kingdom of God in our communities.
First, let’s look at the early history of House Churches, and their transition into the institution church.
30 AD to 380 AD – Churches met primarily in homes.
Jesus rose from the dead in 30 AD, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to earth to indwell believers on the day of Pentecost. On that day the church was born. For the next 350 years, the church met primarily in homes. They also met for the next year also in the temple in Jerusalem for public proclamation of the gospel, since the early believers were also Jews who believed that the Messiah had come, and so were still allowed in the temple.
31 AD – The great persecution against Christians began (Acts 8:1).
Only a year later, according to Acts 8:1, a great persecution against Christians began, and Christians were barred from the temple. From that point on, they met only in community homes.
313 AD – Roman Emperor Constantine I decriminalized Christianity.
In 313 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine I signed the “Edict of Milan”, which decriminalized Christianity. Christians were still considered the fringe of society, but at least they were no longer considered criminals.
313 AD – First church buildings began to be constructed.
According to archaeological findings and historical documents, a few buildings began to be constructed for Christians to assembly in, but they were very small in number.
380 AD – Christianity declared by Emperor Theodosius I to be the religion of the Roman Empire.
In 380 AD the Roman Emperor Theodosius I signed the “Edict of Thessalonica”, which made Christianity to be the religion of the Roman Empire. All Romans were expected to “convert” to Christianity.
380 AD – Christianity became a religious system.
Church hierarchy was modeled around the Roman political system, and church meetings were modeled around Synagogue and pagan temple meetings (both un-Biblical models leading to secularization). Christianity degraded from a living relationship with a risen Lord, to a religious system of form and works.
380 AD – House churches banned by the Roman Church.
Why were house churches banned by the newly formed Roman Church? Because House Churches cannot be controlled by political systems, governments, or religions.
380 AD – Secularization of the church began.
Because Christianity became the state religion, people declared themselves to be Christians for personal gain, and without an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. As a result, the secularization of the church began.
476 AD to 1300 AD – Collapse of the Roman Empire, and entrance into the Dark Ages.
Less than 100 years after House Churches were outlawed and the Christian Church secularized, the Roman Empire collapsed, the Christian Church became a religion of superstition and control, and Europe fell into the Dark Ages.