Here lies one of the great secrets of church growth. History, romance – and the Bible - are all interwoven in the use that God has made of the homes of his people down the centuries. The evangelist John Wesley knew of the secret back in the eighteenth century, in his remarkable development of the Methodist ‘societies’ or ‘class meetings’ that he established under chosen leaders, as he rode around the towns and villages of England, Ireland, Scotland and
Wales. But of course the pattern of devolved leadership was established as far back as the time of Moses. Overwhelmed by sheer numbers as he led the people of Israel out of Egyptian oppression, Moses received wise advice from Jethro, his father-in-law. Ministry was never meant to be a one-man show! “Select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them….” (Exodus 18:21).
Naturally the sub-divisions had to be related to the larger body; no group was to exist in its own right. So it has always been throughout spiritual history. The Gospel comes to Europe – and takes root through someone’s home – Lydia’s…. the town jailor’s…. Jason’s…. Aquila’s and Priscilla’s…. Crispus’…. Paul’s rented house…. (Acts 16:15, 34; 17:7; 18:3, 8; 28:30,31) – and apparently even in the household of Caesar himself (Philippians 4:22). But always these house fellowships are related to the wider work of the apostles, to the church at large.
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