Houses come in different shapes and sizes, of course, and are very different from land to land and culture to culture. I was almost non-plussed, however, to have my horizons majorly expanded, last November, as to what a 'house church' might have looked like in 'Bible times' - as the church expanded from Jerusalem and throughout Samaria, Judea - and to the ends of the earth.
On main street 'Ephesus' (in ruins to be sure, but still remarkably suggestive of what things must have been like when the city was more 'intact'), I was able to visit several large houses likely very much similar to those in which St. Paul may have met with Ephesus' first believers and where he left his colleague and son in the faith, Timothy, to pastor, teach and build up the Church there. Here are no small bungalow prayer meeting places but houses - homes with huge rooms, courtyards, sloping and terraced 'condos' which in many cases could easily have accomodated scores of people. Mural and fresco-covered rooms, celings and flooers . . . wise passageways and easy, climbing still vibrant mosaics - and inside and outside running water, hidden sewage and large pipes, indoor lavatories - so much. And we think we are so wise and gifted - the first to discover, plan and house such luxuries.
It's amazing to me too how very soon, relatively speaking, in the life of the early Church they appear to have moved from homes like these (again, even though many of them are so very large) to the architecture of special holy places, to church buildings with unique architecture and art, no doubt because even these many large houses with their expansive rooms no longer contained enough space for those gathering, for the many who were newly coming to faith and wanting to join into the community of faith to share in worship, fellowship and practical instruction.