Oikos has always supported house churches or simple churches as they are more commonly known today.
Simple churches are not defined by simply meeting in homes as they can also gather in various places – cafes, community centers, sports centers, etc. While location does influence the nature of the gathering simple churches are defined more by following some core biblical principles and practices.
The Apostle Paul urged the Corinthian believers to “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ”. (1 Cor 11:1)
Paul goes on to praise them for ”remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions (or “teachings” NIV) just as I passed them onto you ( 1Cor 11:2 NASV) .
He further writes on the subject of order in churches that “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice - nor do the churches of God" (1Cor 11:16).
It seems that there were some core principles and practices that characterized new churches according to Paul.
In second Thessalonians 2:15, he again urges the church to stand firm and to hold to the “traditions” which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us” (see also 2 Thes 3:6-7, 1 Cor 14:33b, & 14;36 et al.) The point is that there are certain principles and practices that should be part of faith communities.
This is not an exhaustive list but one to prompt our thinking and investigation of the New Testament church.
- The focus is on Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and experiencing his life in our lives and gatherings. This is the basis of fellowship. (1 john 1:1-7)
- Preaching the gospel of the kingdom. (Math 24:14)
- Equipping and training disciples to be disciples and to make other disciples as a core activity of the church. This includes teaching people how to hear the voice of God and to become mature disciples who can equip others. (Matt 28:18-20, John 14:27, Heb 6:1-3, 10-12)
- Interactive participatory gatherings. (1Cor 14:26)
- A highly relational connection: A focus on loving each with regular interaction and community - even daily fellowship wherever possible. (Acts 2:42-47, John 15:12-17)
- Mutual edification, encouragement, and fellowship as the goals of gathering together (Acts 2:42 etc)
- The Lords supper as a meal. (1Cor 11:17-34)
- The Baptism of believers. (Math 28:19-20)
- Church government by consensus. Non-hierarchical elder led, rather than elder ruled (1 Peter 5:1-4).
- Equipping through the ministry of apostles, evangelists, prophets pastor-teachers (Eph 4:11-13)
NB “Church” should be simple enough for each believer to do and to reproduce without needing to have a seminary education. (see Acts 11:19 24).
- Atkerson, Steve (ed) Ekklesia To the Roots of Biblical House church Life. Atlanta Georgia: NTRF, 2005:18