Sometimes I need to remind myself... it's not about big churches, little churches, mega-church, house church, or even having the "right" definition or understanding of church. It's all about Jesus.
It's not about how we worship, who we worship with, what kind of service we have or don't have, or who is qualified to lead what. It's just all about Jesus.
Really, this is more than a cliche. I really think we have difficulty understanding clearly a "Scriptural" definition of church... because it really is not that important--from a Scriptural point of view. The early church was just a gang of people living all-out for Jesus. Period. Nothing more. Church gatherings happened secondarily as a simple outcome of these Jesus-followers gathering to support and encourage each other. The logistics and structure that developed (i.e. servants to help serve widows) were simply practical accommodations to the needs of this gang of Jesus-followers.
Yes, I know, there were apostles... sent ones... who were often given the task of taking the church into new territories. But guess what? Early on (Acts 8) the church was spread out all over the world without any apostles. Why? Apostles weren't the point. Having the right people in a service was not the point. Who gathered where with whom just wasn't that important in God's economy. Jesus is the important One--people living the Jesus life is the point--the rest was expected to take care of itself. The "set up" of church was simply not that critical.
Oh, but, didn't Paul appoint elders? So, now, we can begin to grasp exactly how church is to be organized. Yes, he did appoint elders... later on... when mature believers could be identified... in order to provide fathers and mothers in the faith. But, again, guess what? The churches were going along just fine being the church before Paul appointed elders. The elders were not the essential! They were a natural and helpful support to encourage mature followers to care for those who are less mature.
The point is, Jesus was the point. It was and is all about Jesus. Everything about how we "do" church or how the church is defined really must be placed in a less-important category. It just is not that big of a deal. In other words, love Jesus, serve Jesus, live for Jesus, give your life for Jesus, live in Jesus, live with Jesus, follow Jesus... and then wherever you, and others that believe, go and gather... the "church" is going and gathering. That part will happen just fine (and will take place quite naturally in homes, in cities, in wherever) when we get the first part truly in place. If city elders are needed, God will raise up people who will fill that role (not position) and they will communicate a vision that others will see and follow. If a small community elder/shepherd is needed, God will give that community a mature person who will serve and love them. When we realize that we are meant to be interdependent with other Christians and live in community and learn from those who are more mature, then we will do just that because we are putting Jesus first and following Him. We just don't need to be all that concerned about how it's all going to be put together. If putting it all together just right was so critical, wouldn't Scripture put a little more emphasis on it?
Jesus is the emphasis. Living in Jesus is the focus. Following and walking with Jesus, our Beloved, is what most, if not all, of our instruction is about. It seems to me that if we really, truly get first things first, that secondary things will take care of themselves (i.e God will take care of them) as we follow the primary love of our life.
No, I mean really. We give lip-service to putting Jesus first as though it's obvious and therefore obviously something we are already doing. The reality is, we don't do it and end up, instead, trying to wrangle our minds around things like how church is supposed to look or what's the best way to do this or that or a thousand other things that are truly, truly secondary to the point.
He really is the point! Can we just get back (I'm preaching here to myself) to simply, utterly, completely, only Jesus?