The growth of Christianity in the Roman empire, apparently, was made possible thanks to the continuous birth of new small, almost insignificant groups which gathered together in the name of Jesus to learn together to be animated by his spirit and follow in his footsteps.
Undoubtedly, the involvement of Paul, Peter, and Barnabas and other missionaries and prophets played an important part, as well as the letters and writings that were circulated around various regions. The decisive factor, however, was the simple faith of believers whose names we don’t know, who gathered together to remember Jesus, hear his message, and celebrate the supper of the Lord.
We have not to think of large communities but of groups of neighbors, relatives and friends gathered at the home of one of them. Matthew, the evangelist, has them in mind when he recalls these words of Jesus: “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Many theologians think that the future of Christianity in the West will depend greatly on the birth and vigor of small groups of believers who, attracted to Jesus, gather centered on the Gospel to experience the real power that Jesus has to attract new followers.
The Christian faith will not be able to be sustained by the socio-cultural environment. Territorial structures that support the faith of those who have not abandoned the Church will be overwhelmed by the lifestyle of modern society, social mobility, the pervasion of virtual culture, and the way week-ends are spent.
The most enlightened sectors of Christianity will continue to concentrate on the Gospel as the stronghold or the decisive force to engender faith. Vatican Council II has already made it clear: “The Gospel… is for the Church the principle of life for its entire duration.” In any age and in any society, it is not we but the Gospel that engenders and founds the Church.
No one can predict the future. No one has prescriptions to guarantee anything. Many of the initiatives that flourish today will quickly run their course for they will not resist the power of a secular, plural, and indifferent society. Within a few years we will be engaged only in essentials.
Jesus, perhaps, will burst upon this skeptical, complacent society with unsuspected force through the power of small groups of simple Christians, attracted by his message of a loving God, open to the suffering of people, and ready to work for a more humane life. With Jesus, everything is possible. We have to be very alert to his calls. up paths to Jesus