"Early Christian Ecclesiology and 'The Property Question' [part 3]" (Andy Alexis-Baker, Jesus Radicals / October 11, 2010)
For, once there were no church buildings. People normally worshiped out doors. In the Hebrew Scriptures, for example, Abraham met God under an oak tree, and most early Hebrew worship occurred outside of human built structures. And while Jesus certainly visited the temple and synagogues, many of his most memorable stories come from encounters in nature: the temptations in the wilderness, the sermon on the mount, the transfiguration, walking on water, etc. Paul, speaking to those in Athens with their grand temples said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:24–25). While in biblical times encountering God in nature was normal, in the modern western world, such things are extremely rare: we worship in enclosed spaces of our own making. Our buildings reinforce notions that God, Christianity, and holiness are not only compartmentalized from nature but quite possibly contrary to one another.Alexis-Baker goes on to cite examples from the early Christian movement, including the accounts of The Acts of Judas Thomas the Apostle in India to the archaeological evidence of early Celtic Christian practice.
This is well worth reading, as are the early installments, part 1 and part 2.