By Steve Simms
"Ecclesiology" is a big word that has a very big sounding definition: "theology as applied to the nature and structure of the Christian Church." However, Christianity began, not as formal church (needing an intellectual course of study), programmed and structured like churches are today.
Early Christianity met mainly in people's homes for the first 300 years. Through out the New Testament you see numerous references to Christians meeting in private houses, but not one reference to church buildings.
Why? The first Christian gatherings were so free, spontaneous, and Spirit-led that they didn't require fancy, institutionalized structures or religious organizations to function. Instead, those early Christian assemblies were gatherings where people learned to hear and obey the risen Jesus and then to minister to one another as He directed them. People had the freedom to open up and to really get to know what others were thinking and experiencing.
Jesus and others in the New Testament called those first-three-century Christian meetings, ekklesias, which is best translated as "assemblies," not as "churches." Ekklesia was also the name of the city council in ancient Greek city/states.
So what happened? Ekklesia (the Spirit-led, Christian assembly) gradually morphed into the institutional church (IC). Eventually the concept of prechurch ekklesia was mostly forgotten, and much of the amazing power of early, prechurch Christianity was lost!
Would you like to get that early Christian power back in your life? And in worldwide Christianity? The book: ONE: Unfolding God's Eternal Purpose From House To House shows how. It's a step by step, practical "ecclesiology" of how Christ-followers can experience Jesus like never before, by going beyond formal church and beginning to assemble in home meetings led by the living Jesus.