Planting a new church can be done in so many ways. Some start from scratch, others start with a few hundred on opening day. The variety of meeting places is in the thousands. They all meet a purpose for a season. Some stay as just one church, others reproduce themselves, still others multiply themselves. The church-planting our family did in Kenya continues to reproduce by addition. The work our church supports in India is a church-planting movement by multiplication.
Next week, four of us from Connection Pointe are going to Panama to spend time with Jose Rodriguez and his family to learn of the new church they are planting in Panama City. We will also visit his longer standing work with the indigenous people in the mountains. Jose asked me to speak on the topic of churches meeting in houses. That was very common in the book of Acts as the church was spreading.
As I scanned the book of Acts, I found these other meeting places:
- The Temple – 2:46
- Synagogues – 9:20
- Public square – 17:17
- Lecture hall – 19:9-10
- Prison – 16:25
- Riverbank – 16:13
- Villages – 8:25
- In crowds – 13:44-45
- Town to town – 20:2
- Wherever they went – 8:4
The early believers met wherever it made sense for the opportunity at hand. Whatever the local culture could accept as a meeting place then people would gather as the gospel was preached and worship took place. As Paul said in Acts 17:24, God “doesn’t live in manmade temples.” He can be proclaimed and worshiped anywhere.
The same is true today. Churches meet in schools, shopping centers, parks, homes, their own buildings and online. When we lived in the bush of Kenya, the Maasai churches met initially under a tree (where all important meetings took place), in the local school or a cattle enclosure. In India I’ve seen worship on the veranda of church ruins, an apartment, and a simple church building. Indochina worship meetings I attended were in a karaoke room, wedding event center, a restaurant side room.
Even Connection Pointe has a history of meeting in different places. From our website:
Connection Pointe was founded in 1837. The first congregation met in homes around Brownsburg and eventually in the town’s first schoolhouse. Our first minister, Thomas Lockhart, helped construct the first church building, which was made entirely of logs. In the next 100 years the church would not only grow through many building projects, but also in its outreach to the community and world.
Each meeting place seemed right at the time for the culture and environment. Interestingly, all of the above meeting places had three things in common that contributed to their growth:
- Favor with the local officials
- Meeting of unmet needs
- Intentionality of sharing Christ
The place is important, the people more important, but of utmost importance is the love and grace of Christ lived out and taught. While church meeting places vary, He is the same Lord we worship everywhere.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
We leave for Panama next Wednesday. Pray for our team as we take time to worship and teach in the meeting places of Panama.
Til next week, Dan