We notice the pattern of large and small meetings in the book of Acts, mainly in Jerusalem and Ephesus. (Acts 2, 20) When examining these meetings, Dwell elders have concluded that the large meetings were not apparently worship services. Whether the meeting held at Solomon's portico, which was said to be characterized by "the apostles' teaching" or the one in the schoolroom of Tyrannus, which was also characterized as a teaching meeting, we doubt very much that either of these large public gatherings bore any similarity to today's church worship service. In fact, no precedent in the New Testament seems to fit what we accept as corporate worship today, according to most churches. We believe much of what American Christians think of as worship comes more from the Old Testament than from the New.
We find that the concept of worship, which was liturgical and formal in the Old Testament, is reinterpreted completely in the New. New Testament worship becomes serving God, whether by giving our whole lives to Him, giving our resources to Him, bringing others to Him through evangelism, or serving others with acts of love in His name. It can also be praising Him through prayer or song.
We do find corporate worship implied in the injunction found in 1 Corinthians 14:26 "What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." But this passage in context is speaking about a participative meeting held in the home — a home church meeting. The home church was also the venue for the first century "love feast" according to early church sources, which included communion and worship.
In a desire to imitate the early church therefore, Dwell has designated the home church as the main venue for corporate worship. Visitors are shocked at times to find that our central meetings are not worship services at all, but public preaching points where Christians are taught the Word of God and non-Christians are presented with the gospel.
Home churches in Dwell decide how to worship corporately. Some have a time of song and praise. Others worship in prayer. Some groups worship at their regular meetings, while others hold special meetings dedicated to prayer and worship. Communion is never shared at our large meetings. Home churches or cell groups are, we feel, much more appropriate for this intimate act of worship. By avoiding worship at the large meetings, we think we avoid making non-Christians feel obligated to sing songs of praise to a God in whom they don't believe. At the same time, Christians from other churches may be reluctant to transfer to Dwell because they expect and demand a worship service.