I went to seminary (Fuller) with John Piper and generally I find him to do a good job of interpreting Scripture and drawing appropriate conclusions. In this case, he has missed the boat, at least to some degree. I submit that his paradigm of church (shaped by his own experience) is preventing him from seeing what Scripture and history teach us.
I'll work through his six observations with my comments (might take several postings).
1. John: "Church is about people not places. In the NT, church is never referred to as a building or a place." Then, John goes on to largely refute his first observation with his second observation. There he lists all of the references to church that are linked to a house. For instance, "Greet also the church that meets at their (Priscilla and Aquila's) house" Rom 16:5.
I contend that every church mentioned in the NT met in a home and functioned like a small spiritual family. And, that this practice continued until the time of Constantine (early 300s). Consider...
*Scripture is our authoritative guide for faith and practice. The common practice of church in the NT was meeting in homes.
*Up to Acts 10, all churches were made up of Jews. "Foundational to all theory on the biblical concept of family is the Jewish teaching that the home is more important than the synagogue. In Jewish tradition, the center of religious life has always been the home. The Church has yet to grapple seriously with this crucial concept." Wilson, Our Father Abraham, p. 214.
*"Since 1980 we have seen a flood of popular and scholarly publications on the subject. Here again it appears most scholars are in agreement: the fact that early Christian communities met in homes is of great sociohistorical, ecclesiological, and missional significance.” P. 1" Gehring, House Church and Mission, p. 1. In other words, meeting in homes was not just a matter of convenience. It has major theological significance.
*“Of fundamental importance is Elliott’s insight that ‘households thus constituted the focus, locus and nucleus of the ministry and mission of the Christian movement.’” Gehring, P. 6
*“For Verner this concept of church as the ‘household of God’ (1 Tim. 3:15) incorporates two aspects: (a) the house or family is the fundamental unit of the church, and (b) the church is a social structure patterned after the household.” Gehring, P. 7
*"On the basis of our exegesis, we can go even one step further: in Christ, mediator of creation, neither Paul nor the churches in Colossae and in Ephesus had the freedom to choose other social structures in the place of marriage and family. They were theologically obligated to choose these, as both had been handed down to them through the creation traditions found in Scripture, primarily in wisdom literature…This is one more reason the Pauline churches attributed such great significance to the oikos as the seminal cell of the church…” Gehring, p. 250.
*"“…the choice of the gathering place was formational for the self-understanding and the organizational structures of the individual churches to such an extent that the ancient oikos can be seen as the formational model for ecclesiology.” Gehring, P. 255.
*"Not until the third century do we have evidence of special buildings being constructed for Christian gatherings..." Banks, Paul's Idea of Community, p. 41.
*"The Christianity that conquered the Roman Empire was essentially a home-centered movement." Viola, Pagan Christianity, p. 14.
I could add more quotes but you get the picture. More to come.