The minister’s house has historically been much more than a place for the man of God to hang his hat. It was a base for mission, a fountainhead of mercy, a refuge for strangers.
Private residences of course played a major part in the growth of Christianity in the early church. “Greet the church that meets in their house.” This strategic utilization of private brick and mortar passed into the practice of successive generations and particularly the Reformers and their successors. As I understand it, ministers often resided in large manses (‘parsonages’ in America) precisely because they were to be used as tools for doing Christian good in the community. Just look at Solomon Stoddard’s home in Northampton, Massachusetts (right).
Here, I think, is one major strategy we can glean from the past in our witness to modern day communities. Let Christians use their homes as tools – and especially ministers. May they become once again channels of Christian mercy to God’s people and catalysts for recreating Christian communities from our socially atomized neighborhoods. Our home can be an oasis in the spiritual desert of those who reside near us. From the living waters God has put in our home, let us irrigate the streets, lanes, and drives nearby. And may God give us the increase.