The gathered-church is (supposed to be) a banquet-supper: this was and is the picture God gives us of the church
I continue to find more and more, as I read my Bible and in my study and research, that the early gathered-church in houses throughout the Roman empire, “the meal” (better a banquet-supper composed of a meal and a symposium, where, after the meal, church teaching and discussion would take place) is the form that seemed to matter to God when he described the future of His people.
Also, the Lord's Supper, well, was actually a supper, both originally with the twelve (i.e., you know, the “last” one) and as the church had been gathering in the New Testament and unto about 300 AD. Also we have the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6ff.) as a picture of the gathered-church from all ages at the end of time (as we know it). Listen to how God through Isaiah the prophet (25:6-9) envisioned the future of His gathered-people:
We can recall that God in Daniel envisioned a multitude from from “all the peoples, nations and men of every language” were to be gathered into the Son of Man's indestructible and eternal kingdom that they “might serve Him” (Dan 7:14). This, combined with the vision of the gathered-church throughout the ages, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Rev 7:9). The pictures of Daniel, Isaiah, and John in his Revelation, along with the formation of the church in Acts and as the church spread house to house throughout the Roman Empire and beyond for 300 years, this table of peoples gathered for a meal to worship, receive instruction, and to fellowship as God's family was indeed the gathered-church.
These pictures demonstrate that to be church (i.e., the gathered-church) was both local and missional in nature. We need to reimagine church.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.