"This letter is to you and to the church that meets in your home." (Philemon 2)
Like most things, church history shows that some things tend to cycle. Bill Easum and Bill Tenny-Brittian have noted in their upcoming book, Under the Radar: Expression of the American Emerging Church:
"Before Constantine's proclamation in 312 A.D., there is no evidence that the church had a single building. According to scriptures, people met in houses, though for a time they would show up at the Temple or in the synagogues, but that was pretty short-lived. There are some who have suggested that Paul rented a community building for worship, but as the Roman persecution of Christians increased, any sort of Christian gathering was outlawed and it became too risky to set aside a building for a church. Thus, for over two-hundred years the church had no physical location. And we might add that the Christian movement did quite well during that time.
But after Constantine pronounced Christianity as the state religion, the cathedrals, church buildings and chapels began to emerge through the Empire. The image and understanding of "church" began to change as the years went by. Seventeen hundred years later, when we hear the word church, we immediately visualize a building with a steeple where we go to practice our Christianity."
With that mind-set, we have tried to make our church building and church campuses places of hospitality. We have worship service "hosts," parking lot attendants and guest welcome centers. All these are potentially effective ministries, but to what level can we show true hospitality in these settings?
Today there seems to be a shift toward the church coming back to homes and other nontraditional church-type buildings. In many places ...