The early Christians taught the gospel in private homes as well as in larger assemblies (Acts 5:42 and 20:20).
In some towns, private homes served as meeting places for smaller churches (Romans 16:5,1Corinthians 16:19, Philemon 1:2).
At times, however, when Christians arranged a meeting in a private home, it was not a church, or even "a church within a church". It was simply a private gathering of neighbours, relatives, and friends.
The most famous such "cottage meeting" was the one arranged by Cornelius at which Peter the Apostle was invited to speak (Acts 10:22-24).
1 Homes Provide Opportunity
Homes are a resource blessing enabling small churches, and Christian households in larger churches, to reach and teach.
By holding Bible study and prayer meetings in your home, inviting brethren, neighbours, friends, relatives, associates, community leaders, denominational people, and so forth, you will be following a scriptural pattern and successful plan for bringing God's word to people and bringing people to God.
2 Co-operating with the church
This point probably goes without saying. Cottage meetings should not compete and interfere with an established church, or worse still become a sort of subversive underground cell, promoting heresy or stealing sheep.
Obviously a "cottage meeting" should mesh with the program of the church proper, and have the blessing (and if necessary the guidance) of the church elders.
3 Advantages of Cottage Meetings
The advantages of "cottage meetings" are many. For example...
Cottage Meetings Potential
(1) New converts can be made for Christ. A private home is a less formidable place than a church hall to introduce seekers to the gospel and to local Christians.
The meeting can be tailored to suit the special needs of contacts. This is a way of "Making the most of the opportunity"(Colossians 4:5).
(2) Members of the church can be edified. Cottage meetings can supplement the teaching and feeding of the church, and may concentrate on the needs of individual members. (Ephesians 4:15-16).
(3) Teachers can be trained. The cottage meeting is a less public circumstance in which people who are training to teach can be given some experience (2Timothy 2:2).
(4) Evangelists and pastors can be given opportunities. By arranging a cottage meeting where your evangelists or pastors can speak to a group, you may create useful opportunities for them to fulfill their ministries.
A cottage meeting gave Peter the Apostle an opportunity to convert Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:22).
(5) Published ministry can be made use of. Cottage meetings can be successful using recorded lessons such as on video or in books. This enables people to continue to study even when there is an absence of someone to teach in person. (1Timothy 3:14-15, 4:13).
Published ministry also means teachers don't have to keep "reinventing the wheel". Lessons presented in permanent media allow teachers to repeatedly teach without having to be present every time.
Furthermore, church members who cannot put lessons together themselves can still conduct classes using the published work of others. Cottage classes make an ideal vehicle for such ministry.
(6) Fellowship and brotherhood is enhanced. Cottage meetings are an excellent opportunity for brothers and sisters in Christ to get to know each other and praise God together from house to house"(Acts 2:46-47).
(7) Bible reading, prayer, and singing can be encouraged. Very effective cottage meetings can consist simply of prayers, Bible readings, and songs (2Timothy 3:16-17,Philippians 4:6,Ephesians 5:19-20).