Tony rightly observes 'Surely what you did over lunch was also 'church' and probably more accessible than a formal service' (see the previous post). I agree with everything in that sentence except the use of the word 'also'.
I am increasingly feeling that what we did over lunch is church, whereas what we did earlier is something else. As I read Paul in the context of the world of workshops and struggling to make a living in which he lived, I am more and more persuaded that sharing a meal with friends and talking about Jesus was church for him. There wasn't anything else.
This morning I was asked how we can be sure that people would have picked up Paul's allusions to and echoes of the Old Testament (as well as his direct quotes).
It seems to me that part of the answer is that in an oral culture people retain more of the information that we hide away in books and on laptops. But another part of the answer is that the context in which Paul's letters were heard was a conversational one. Someone - probably the letter carrier would read (maybe he was the only person who could read it) - and everyone else would talk about it, asking questions, making suggestions about what it meant. In a conversation, everyone gets to contribute something to the understanding of the whole group.
I wonder what our churches would be like if this is what happened in them...