In the assemblies of the early church, the Scriptures were read to the congregation by a lector, or reader. This practice was modeled on that of the synagogue, wherein the Old Testament Scriptures were read aloud every Sabbath by a reader appointed from the congregation. The practice of the synagogue, in turn, had developed from the ancient concept of a literary document as something recited, rather than something read silently from a manuscript.
At the local level, the New Testament church was a house church; Christians met for worship in small groups in the homes of those members who might be wealthier or have larger houses. In a larger city, the church might meet in a number of house churches. In the New Testament, the word church may refer to the universal church, the church in a particular city, or the individual house church, which was part of the larger congregation.