Jared thanks for tankig the time to respond. What I was trying to get at in terms of the experience of the average christian and the relationship of converts to elders, is that the average 1st century new convert never met anybody who actually knew Jesus.Sure, Paul certainly thought out his theology to a fairly large degree. The people he directly mentored were probably fairly well-trained. However, if you grew up in a suburb of Cairo and became a Christian in the year 60, would you have ever met any of those people? What percentage of Christians ever met an apostle, or heard a letter from one of them read to them in their lifetime?I think that when we read the Bible there is a natural tendency to think that the people who wrote it and read it were typical Christians. However, I suspect that this may not have been the case. Additionally, the Bible really gives the clearest picture of those who were discipled by Paul or his close followers. I'm not trying to imply that the NT isn't representative of Christianity or anything like that. I just think that many of the things we most value in modern Christianity may not have been as highly valued in the first century. I'm sure the NT would have been highly valued if it existed for most believers, but many Christians managed to get by without having access to much of it.As far as modern services go I tend to agree with you that it is hard to break with tradition. I've tried to think of how church could work differently, although I think one difficulty I run into is that my picture of an ideal church service might be enjoyed by about 0.001% of the christian population. Sometimes I envision a choose your own service kind of setting where you have a few rooms with various types of worship going on for the full duration of the service, various rooms with various kinds of fellowship activities, various rooms with various kinds of teaching activities (from lecture/sermon-style presentations to small interactive clrear endrooms), etc. Then people could essentially build their own service by walking into and out of various rooms. For this to work you'd probably need a really large church that could support all these redundant activities. You would also need lots of small/medium rooms and less of the big/large room that you find in a typical church. However, you would still want to have church-wide gatherings at times. You would also want to try to promote fellowship across the body as much as possible. I'm not sure how well it would actually work. If nothing else I could see endless battles between spouses about which parts of the service to attend.