Related to my previous post, here’s a recent article from Turkey regarding the discovery of a first century Laodicean house, in which certain rooms were customized for Christian worship. Depending on the findings from this archeological site, this could actually prove to be the earliest church meeting space yet discovered.
Though there aren’t many verified spaces of Christian worship from the first two centuries, it makes sense that more would emerge as archaeology continues to dig up ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean communities. After all, many of the first-generation Christians – whether Jews, proselytes, or God-fearers – were coming out of the synagogue model. As such, it makes sense that they would naturally seek out creating physical spaces that echoed the synagogue, even as the early Christian liturgy did. Rather than an intentional missiological strategy, I have come to think that the house church was much more likely a practical necessity. This would be due to the particular needs of weekly celebrating the Lord’s supper, persecution realities, a lack of official recognition, the precedence of Roman civil associations that met in larger homes, etc.
Either way, I will not be surprised at all if further discoveries push the scholarship in the direction of, “Wow, they had designated worship spaces much earlier than we previously thought.”
The article says:
‘Şimşek stated that the house, which is estimated to be about 2,000 years old and built on an area of 2,000 square meters, is located in a very interesting place.
“Here, we know that the house was used as of the first century A.D. and that the main planning system of the Roman Empire period continued intact until the seventh century A.D. We obtained interesting results in our works in the house. We saw in the house the fault lines of the earthquakes that destroyed Laodicea over the years. We are working here by protecting these fault lines.”
Şimşek explained that with the spread of Christianity, the first believers had secretly transformed some parts of this large house into a place of worship.’