Bardy, G. (Trans. P.W. Singleton). "Chapter Two: Christian Life at the End of the First Century." The Church at the End of the First Century. London: Sands & Co. 1938, 39-68.
Bardy cites the letter of Pliny the Younger to Trajan, between 111 and 113, as of great value in descriging the Christian life at the start of the second century. He quotes the letter in its entirety (Bardy 1938, 39-41). The Christians, in Pliny's understanding, acted like atheists by not offering sacrifice or worshipping images, including that of the emperor (Bardy 1938, 41). This was in stark contrast to the public religious practices of the Romans. They were a newly founded religion and were at enmity with the Jews, worshiping Christ as god (Bardy 1938, 42). They gathered in worship and song at daybreak, then later at some time for a meal, actions which did not appear threatening to society. Bardy assumes from Pliny's letter that he must have investigated the meal and concluded that it was not a human sacrifice or other harmful celebration as rumor could suggest (Bardy 1938, 43). There is no mention of a heirarchical structure.
Bardy draws from period Christian testimony that most Christians of the time were converts, though some were born into Christian families (Bardy 1938, 44). At the time, there was significant growth in the eastern mystery cults, which made substantial promises and significant demands. It seems Chrsitianity, with even greater promises and demands, was even more attractive.
Catechesis of converts, or prospective converts, had become a regular feature of Christianity. This was a departure from the model described in Acts, but has very early evidence in the Two Ways teaching of the Didache (Bardy 1938, 46). The catechesis is fairly extensive and takes place prior to baptism.
Bardy further notes that acceptance of some type of creed was a normal expectation of the new Chrsitian. Ignatius describes the Christians in terms of the second article of the Apostles' Creed (Bardy 1938, 48). Clement of Rome makes trinitarian statements as an example of what all Christians believed. In the Didache it was required that communicants be baptized (Bardy 1938, 49).
Catechesis and acceptance of a creed was naturally followed by baptism. The Didache does not state who would baptize, but Ignatius said it was the role of the bishop, as was administration of the Eucharist (Bardy 1938, 51). The normal practice appears to be baptism by immersion.
The Eucharist serves as a participation in the body and blood of the Lord. Bardy quotes Ignatius in some detail, describing it as receiving the flesh of Jesus who suffered for sin (Bardy 1938, 52). The celebration recognized the unity of all the Christians. The Didache describes the Eucharist in less clear terms. It is a breaking of bread on the Lord's Day, for reconciliation (Bardy 1938, 53). Bardy quotes Didache 9-10 in full, concluding that there are numerous details which are left vague. It is not entirely clear whether the prayers were applied to different meal ceremonies, or whether they actually served as actual liturgical prayers (Bardy 1938, 55ff). In contrast, the descriptions of Justin and Tertullian are quite clear.
In contrast to the eucharist, we have a fairly clear example of liturgical prayer at the end of hte first century, contained in 1 Clement 59.2-61.3 (Bardy 1938, 60ff). Bardy reprints the prayer in its entirety. While he notes the transcendent calm and reverence shown even in a time of persecution (Bardy 1938, 52), my observation is that the prayer is strikingly similar to modern liturgical prayers of the Church.
Finally, Bardy speaks of the habits of the Christian life at the end of the first century. He cites records of habits of prayer in deaily life, of an eternal hope in times of illness and death, and an overall orientation toward heavenly things (Bardy 1938, 65). He quotes at length from the Epistle to Diognetus, which describes the Christian attitude toward nationality, family, the law, and earthly possessions (Bardy 1938, 65-67). The letter describes a striking sense of fellowship, mutual assistance, dedication, and hope in all things.