Why House Churches or Small Groups?
What’s so important about Small Groups to the life of the Church? The answer is that Small Groups is very biblical:
First of all, Jesus modeled Small Groups. Five chapters in the Book of John (Chapters 13-17) were taught in an upper room where they were eating together around a table. Jesus also modeled groups when He ate with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, visiting with Levi or Matthew at his house, at the home of Zacchaeus, Simon the Leper, as well as Peter’s house. In fact, when Christ sent out the 12 disciples on a practice run, His strategy was for them to look for a home in a town and teach, pray and minister in the home, and not to move around:
11Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12As you enter the home, give it your greeting.13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet (Matthew 10:11-14).
The early church met in large gatherings, the temple courts, but they also met often in house churches or Small Groups:
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 5:42).
But Saul [later to become the apostle Paul] began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison (Acts 8:3).
Why was Saul, or Paul, going from house to house in search of Christians to drag off to jail? Because that’s where they were meeting—in Small Groups, studying, discussing, worshiping and praying for one another.
You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20).
The early church met in homes and enjoyed close relationships that kept them in the hard times of persecution from the Jewish religious leadership.
After Paul the apostle became a Christian, he went from one house church or small group to another as a traveling Bible teacher, coaching and strengthening the small group leaders, teaching and ministering to the people in the small groups or house churches. His task was one of modeling and equipping the church for growth by training the leaders. Let’s look together at where these early meetings were held:
When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us (Acts 16:15).
30For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! (Acts 28:30-31).
Paul wrote to the church at Rome sending greetings to those in the house church of Priscilla and Aquila:
3Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5Greet also the church that meets at their house (Romans 16:3-5).
Paul wrote further about normal Christianity in the early church. Three times he told us that the church met in homes.
The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house (Colossians 4:15).
…also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home (Philemon 1:2).
After looking at these scriptures, we can all see that leading groups in one’s home is very biblical.
How Does a Person Use these Studies?
These Bible studies are designed with group interaction in mind. Our desire is to help people explore God’s Word by using questions that focus on the text. There are three kinds of questions used in the studies:
Observation Questions. These questions ask, “What does the passage say?”
Interpretation Questions. What did the writer intend for us to understand?
Application Questions. How should we apply what we've learned to our daily lives?
Some of the studies that you find on this website are just composed of questions (inductive studies), while others are written to also answer some of the questions, i.e. the Book of John and the Book of Luke Bible studies and the topical studies. These studies are written for groups but also for the person who has no group but yet would still like to understand the Gospel of John and Luke by reading the commentary and think about the questions.