Aquila and Priscilla, a couple the Apostle Paul met during his second missionary journey, led a home fellowship (Romans 16:3, 5).
A man by the name of Nymphas, who lived in Laodicea, also hosted a home fellowship.
"Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house." (Colossians 4:15)
Philemon, from where we get the book of the same name, led a fellowship as well.
"To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer. . . and to the church in your house: . . ." (Philemon 2)
Why study in a group?
In Hebrews 3 we are told to exhort EACH OTHER daily or else we may find ourselves hardened through the deceitfulness of sin:
be careful that none of you have a heart so evil and unbelieving that you will turn away from the living God . . . you must help one another every day (Hebrews 3:12-13)
"But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men . . . For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged." (1Corinthians 14:3, 31)
Paul gave special instructions to his close friend and fellow evangelist Timothy that he must be an example to other believers with his words, conduct, faith, etc.
Needless to say, we cannot be an example to others by having Bible studies strictly on our own. We must give attention to what the Word teaches so that we can save not only ourselves but others, which assumes regular interaction with others in the faith.
but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity. (1Timothy 4:12)
The book of Hebrews says we should not give up on meeting together with other Christians for the purpose of worship and learning about God.
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Teaching methods in New Testament
How can we find out how early Christians conducted worship services? The book of 1Corinthians describes the worship services at Corinth:
"Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe . . .
"Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret . . . Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge . . . For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged . . . For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints . . . Let all things be done decently and in order." (1Corinthians 14:22, 26-27, 29, 31, 33, 40)
These important verses in the Bible were written to show how worship in the New Testament was conducted. The Church at Corinth was zealous but chaotic. Some wanted to teach, others spoke in other tongues, etc. etc. The Corinthians were admonished that worship in a group setting must a certain level of decorum and not confusion.
In Matthew 13 it says that the method Jesus used to teach was based on encouraging the asking of questions and of general discussion. Jesus asked his disciples questions to mae sure they understood what he meant (Matthew 16:5-8, 13-15).
When the apostle Paul visited a synagogue for services, the Bible says he reasoned concerning the gospel and what the Bible actually taught. Open discussions about God's word were allowed in such settings (Acts 17:1-2).
The Bereans were unique Christians. They didn't just accept what someone taught but checked the Bible to see if what he said was literally true.
and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)
The Bible's method of conveying and learning about the word of God, as well as how to have worship services, allowed for open discussions conducted in a respectful manner.
How to prepare and conduct studies
The person who will lead a meeting should first pray about choosing a subject which will not only instruct but also encourage believers. Prepare notes with Biblical references and whatever help you need from sources such as reference books. The Internet is an excellent way to get ideas and gather the information necessary to hold a successful discussion about the Bible. One method of many in leading a discussion is to have those attending the study to read a passage based on a particular topic. After the passage is read others can then offer their comments. The important thing to keep in mind is to think about how others can be helped by what is taught and discussed.
The Bible should ultimately speak for itself when conducting studies or hosting a home fellowship. The person or persons leading a discussion can stimulate a response from others through the asking of questions.
Tips for studies
Here are some tips for running a home fellowship or Bible studies:
No single person should dominate a service or study, or lead a discussion far away from its initial topic. One person speaking while all others listen, like attending a lecture, is NOT an effective way of teaching! Discussion helps clarify what is read and taught. Additionally, people should refrain from heating arguments. Such behavior can tear an otherwise fruitful meeting apart!
People who do NOT listen to others, whether they are the host of the meeting or one of the attendees, learn little if anything from the Bible and do not benefit others. Also, be aware of those who use meetings with God's people as a forum to push their own "pet doctrines."
Please be mindful that many people may have to work the day after visiting a study or home fellowship meeting to worship God. Keep what is conducted to a reasonable period of time.