The first church building was built around 323 by Constantinople. So where were followers of Jesus meeting for almost 300 years? The book of Acts gives a pretty good picture of what the people were doing and how they operated in the early years of “The Way”. Basically, followers of Jesus were meeting in homes with others and inviting other families to join them. Acts 2:42 gives the framework, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
As I read the New Testament, what I see followers of Jesus doing is not about attending a worship service or building. They are focused on loving God and loving one another, along with inviting others into a Kingdom lifestyle. Gathering with others believers on Sunday’s to worship the Lord is a great privilege and one I personally relish. It is a wonderful addition to what the first followers of Jesus were doing, but it was never intended to be the primary way followers of Jesus identify themselves. Jesus’ “primary” instructions to his first disciples (and to us for that matter) is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We can do this every day of the week!
God’s invitation is for us to “be the church”. Paul makes clear what the church is in 2 Cor 2:15, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”. Do you see what Paul’s emphasis is here? We are to reek of Jesus. And with that glorious stank all over us, we are to be in ceaseless community with those who are “being saved” (following Jesus) and those whose are “perishing” (not following Jesus). What a great picture of what in means to “be the church”.