New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


June 13 2001 Vol 01 : 007

 

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing & Making Tents - the best of both

House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Introduction

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Introduction and Making Tents

Re: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

Re: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

RE: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

 

Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 01:39:33 -0400 From:(jferris)

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing & Making Tents - the best of both

Dear sms,

would like to receive the zipped version. please send to jferris154

Have you all read Wolfgang Simson's book: Houses That Change the World: The Return of the House Churches? I'll stick my neck out: it's the best single volume on house church available, published by OM Publishing // Paternoster copyright 1998, 2000 ed., (see www.paternoster-publishing.com). Introductory kudos come from friends like Patrick Johnstone, Peter Brierley, Ken Mulholland, Ernie Addicot, Bob Fitts, Ralph Neighbour, Jim Montgomery, Robert Banks and many others, including women, non-westerners, and non-ordained lay-birds like me.

I can also email requesters an earlier rough draft (looks rough also) in a zipped version, couple hundred K.

The 2000 ed. chapters deal with: 1. The Reinvention of Church: bridging the church gap 2. House Churches in History: Rediscovery through the valley of the Dark Ages 3. The Nature of House Churches: what they are, what they do, and how they function 4. The Five-fold Ministry: God's resources and structure multiplying house churches 5. House Church or Cell Church? thirteen reasons why house churches are the natural solution 6. Developing a Persecution-proof Structure: 'blessed are you when you are persecuted' -how to develop a persecution-proof spirit and thrive under pressure 7. No progress Without Change: the art of transitioning, or how to avoid doing the new in the power of the old 8. All Change is Practical: the last step you want to take determines your next step 9. QSQ: values and content come first, methods and plans second, growth and numbers last - how to think Quality-Structure-Quantity 10. Fathering the Next Generation: who will do all the work? 11. Models of Church Multiplication: How to plant churches without manufacturing them 12. Building National Momentum: how to develop a critical mass, and leave the outcome to God.

Simson is a prime mover in the international DAWN network, lives in Switzerland, edits the DAWN Fridayfax, and spends the bulk of his time dreaming up and moving leaders toward the planting of millions of house churches especially in the ole 10/40 window.

sms


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Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 17:57:36 +0700 From: "Link" Subject: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Planting] Fishing?)

Maybe half the list or more have some connection with the house church movement. Some of you might not be familiar with house churches. I thought I'd give you a general introduction to house church.

Meeting in houses these days is fairly common. There ar e plenty of churches that start in homes that grow into traditional churches with buildings. Some start churches in homes with the objective to eventually get a church building and be a 'regular church.'

But there is also a house church movement in many countries that thinks meeting in homes is normative. 'House Church Movement' isn't really descriptive, since a lot of the principles house church people hold to don't have much to do with houses. Author Frank V. has labeled the movement 'a Return to Biblical Primitivism.'

If we look in the Bible, and based on what we read, try to determine what the apostles and early believers considered was important for the church, and compare it to what a lot of church people think is important,

1. Pews. 2. Carpet. 3. Big sounds system. 4. Organ and/or piano 5. Pulpit 6. Sermon as the highlight of the meeting. 7. Hired Clergyman 8. Church building.

These are some of the things that many people associate with the word 'church.' Let's consider what the earliest Christians thought of these things. The early church met in homes and ate a meal together.

* Pews- Since the early church met in homes, it's unlikely that they had pews. Pews became common in churches under the influence of Rome, and became common among Protestants. Early Christians would probably not have thought of pews when they thought about the church.

* Carpet, pews, big sound systems, organs, pianos- These are things that came to be associated with 'church' over time. The early Christians clearly didn't think these things were essential for the church.

*Pulpit, sermon as the highlight of the meeting-

I Corinthians 14 describes the meetings the Corinthians were having. Everyone one of them had a psalm, doctrine, tongue, interpretation, revelation. Paul didn't tell them to listen to one person speak. Rather, he gave them instructions on how to take turns prophesying and speaking in tongues and interpreting in an orderly manner.

The sermon as the center of the meeting is something that really became a strong tradition during the Reformation. Where does the Bible teach that the main focus of church is to listen to one man give a long discourse?

If we read how Jesus taught, he did give long discourses to crowds, but He also asked and answered questions and held discussions over meals. Some give Acts 20:7 as an example of Paul preaching a sermon all night long, but the word for 'teach' there is the Greek word we get 'dialogue' from, and he may have had an interactive discussion with the people all night long.

Hebrews 10:24-25 tells believers not to forsake assembling together but to exhort _one another._ Many overlook this, and think that church must follow the traditional pattern of songs, sermon, song. This type of liturgy only allows one person to function in his gifts. We see in I Cor. and Hebrews that church meetings involved mutual edification.

The author of Hebrews writes in chapter 5, 'for the time ye ought to be teachers.' He believed that when his readers reached a certain stage of maturity, they should be teachers. Paul also wrote that all believers may prophesy. His example of a good church meeting in I Cor. 14 that convicted the sinner was one where all prophesied.

Some have a very narrow view of who can minister the word. Some think only pastors and evangelists can do it. Some think that only 'five-fold ministers' can do this.

But others believe that 'five-fold ministers' are regular members of the congregation who develop their gifts.

The first century synagogue may have had something like a lecturn. Synagogue services allowed many people to speak. The meeting centered around the reading of the Law. In a Hebrew synagogue, the reading of portions of scripture could be divided up between 7 people. Another might translate into Aramaic. Someone would give a sermon, and he might even have someone interpret his sermon to the group. Different people could give the sermon. It wasn't always the same person every week. There was also some kind of venue for discussing the sermon and questioning the speaker. Because of this, Paul often discussed or disputed about the Gospel in the synagogue.

Synagogues had plural elders, with one man called the archisynagogue in an administrative role. Some traditional aspects of church liturgy probably evolved from the synagogue's. The Bible doesn't command churches to follow synagogue liturgy, however. And the NT shows us that the early church meetings had an aspect of interactive use of spiritual gifts that differed from the early synagogue.

*. Hired clergyman

Paul and Barnabas planted churches without elders at first. These churches were able to function for some period of time before the apostles returned, perhaps because they had meeting for mutual edification rather than meetings that required only one man to speak. appointed elders, plural, in the churches the founded. Paul listed some requirements for overseers. One is that he should be apt to teach.

The Bible doesn't teach that _only_ elders could teach. In fact, we see that in church meetings, believers ministered their gifts to one another.

Also, 'elder' means older man. It could be that the apostles appointed overseers from among the older men. We see in Acts 14 that the apostles appointed elders from within the congregations. Since overseers were not to be novices, it makes sense that they would grow up spiritually within the congregations, exercising their gifts, and eventually being given oversight responsibility.

* Church building.

In the first century, Jews built houses of worship. Pagans built temples. But the Christians just met in homes. They did this for a few hundred years. Why? Persecution was sporadic. They could have built some churches if it were important to them. Those Christians believed that _they_ were God's building. God does not live in buildings built with human hands.

Also, one of the things they did in their meetings was eat a meal together. A house is a good place to eat. It's a good place to meet with your family and fellowship and discuss important issues.

Here in Indonesia, most of the country doesn't even pretend to be Christian. Imagine trying to build a church in every village (a miss'ns strategy one network has) if you have to build a church building in every village. Church buildings expensive, and villagers are poor. Why bother building church buildings?

Here in Indonesia, you can buy a nice house in a subdivision for about US $12,000. Many office workers make between $50 and $100 a month. One church sent out a proposal trying to raise about 1 million dollars to build a huge sanctuary. Right now they are meeting in a rented facility in a mall.

One miss'ns director here says that when church planters go out, there is good ev. at first. But then, the congregation gets to a certain size and decides to build a building. At that point, the focus changes, and the evangelism goes way down.

Gifted church planters are gifted to plant the word of God and lay a foundation of Christ. Why should they be burdened with a cultural expectation to build buildings?

Christians can meet in homes. The homes are already paid for, or are being paid for by the owner. Some church planters recommend an occasional 'celebration gathering.'

home church's versus Cell groups

A home church seen as a church within itself. Generally leadership is there on the home church level. Many decisions are made on the home church level.

The cell group is usually different. Usually, it's decisions are made by programs from the central church. The members of the cell group support the central church building. If the congregation outgrows the building, they raise funds for a new one. House churches don't have the burden of paying for a building and can spend money on the poor and ministry.

Some church planter suggest home church's have a celebration gathering with other home church's. This can be done in a rented hall or in an open field. There is something good about Christians meeting in large groups from time to time. Both cell churches and home church's get their big meeting idea from Acts. The saints in Acts met from house to house, and also in the temple.

Notice that the home church's were what continued on among the Gentiles. The meetings in Jerusalem weren't exactly cell church meetings either. They were meetings for the city level of church. We don't know if their focus was 'celebration' either. They were being taught by the apostles- maybe they were more like teaching seminars.

home church on he Mission field

There is a fuzzy line between home church and cell church. The number of Evangelical sin Mongolia has grown from nearly non to over 10,000 in a decade. On of the methods for church planting there was to have house meetings with leaders raised up on the house meeting level. I think communion and baptism were done in the home meeting level. These people met from time to time in celebration gatherings. As time went on, celebration gatherings became more common. (A YWAM church planter coach who helped with that is on this list if your interested.)

I don't know if that if home church or cell model. Communion was held in homes. Notice that the early believers broke bread in home meetings. (Paul wrote about not having leaven in the feast, and Jude wrote of spots on the love feasts. If we break bread in our homes, we are more likely to be able to avoid eating with an unrepentant brother in sin.)

home church's have seen success in India, Cuba, Honduras, Vietnam, China (of course) and many other countries. In Ind'nesia, they were starting to have moderate success among a difficult to reach UPG. home church's depend on people actually obeying Christ and using their gifts. Meeting in a home doesn't guarantee growth or community.

Community and the Lord's Supper

Many home church Christians emphasize fellowship. There is a lot of fellowship in their meetings. Meetings can last a long time. But since much of the meeting is just like going to someone's house for dinner and to fellowship, it's easier to sit through than a four hour meeting sitting in a pew.

I John says if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. Wow. Notice the importance of fellowship.

Acts 4 puts fellowship right there in a list with the apostles doctrine, breaking bread, and fellowship.

Many home church Christians fellowship around the Lord's table. A careful study of the Bible and church history shows that early Christians actually ate a real meal together. The 'eucharist' was or was a part of the Love Feast. Later, the Eucharist got separated from the Love Feast, and the love feast, without its significance, sort of got phased out. Many home church Christians celebrate the Lord's Supper as a meal which includes bread and wine/juice. That is the example Jesus left the apostles, and it should be no surprised they ate Communion as a meal later on. The practice of having tiny round host and tiny plastic glass of wine evolved later.

home church Movements,

There is a lot of variety among home church's in the US. There are really fundamentalist types. There are Third Wave Charismatics, Sabbatarians. Some home church people are bitter about the 'Institutional Church.' (IC) Some home church people are rather exclusive about house churches. Others aren't.

The Southern Baptists now accept house churches into their denomination. Some SBC church planter'ers are interested in that method of church planter'ing. (I think we may have some SBC home church'ers on the list.)

home church in History

I saw a web page once about the Anabaptist's early house churches. Some Amish have church in their homes. I've heard that family leaders speak.

The Quakers were originally a home church movement. They were sort of charismatic and very anti-institutional. Some home church's now have very similar views to early Quakers. The Quakers may have been more exclusive than even the exclusive home church's, not only considering denominations to be Babylon, but considering themselves to be practically the only true Christians. Good place to go for lessons to learn from history about home church.

The early Methodists had home meetings where discipleship took place. Regular believers with gifts ministered. they also went to more traditional meetings.

Wolfgang Simson wrote an interesting section on historical house church movements.

home church a Wise Thing

In a lot of cases, home church is a wise type of church planter to start. If you are working with an unbelieving people group, and trying to start a rapidly expanding people movement for the Gospel, you should give the people you are working a model they can follow. home church is Biblical. It's low-budget. Church buildings started going up in the 300's. The early church got along fine without them for several hundred years. Since church buildings are non-essential, why not consider church plantering in homes, and never have a goal to build a building. When they meeting gets to large, start another meeting in another home. If people are coming to Christ in droves, it sure would save a lot of needless hassle caused by thinking a 'steeplehouse' is necessary.


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Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 14:17:35 +0200 From: "Tom Belt" <Tgbelt*compuserve.com> Subject: [New Testament Church Planting] Introduction

Hi all-

I'm Tom. Married, four children. Have been a full-time appointed M. since 1986 in the Middle East. Have worked among both M-slims and nominal Christians. Am now involved in teaching, partnering with local churches to develop new leadership and plant churches, partnering with an editorial team in the publication of a new Arabic translation of the Old and New Testament. Final revised text goes to printer this Fall. We currently writing commentary and articles to make it a study bible. The version is know as Kitab Asharif (The Honorable Book) and a website is being constructed which will contain the entire text in Arabic along with commentary and articles: www.alsharif.com .

Blessings, Tom


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Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 10:25:44 EDT From: DenverWH

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Introduction and Making Tents

My name is John White and I'm a home church planter/coach in Denver, CO. We currently have 6 home churchs in our network. We are also working to connect and encourage other home church networks throughout Colorado and also on the national level.

I want to put my vote in along with Steve for Wolfgang Simson's book "Houses that Change the World". Best thing we've found on the subject were talking about. We've distributed over 100 copies. It's a great resource for people who are frustrated with the traditional way of doing things and who believe there should be something more. A good source for the books is DAWN Ministries (http://www.dawnministries.org/index.html)

RE: Tent making. I think we have a lot of work to do on this issue because most of us have grown up in the institutional churchand have a somewhat distorted view of how things ought to be. We also tend to overreact to the abuses we've seen in the system. Let's get back to NT values.

The starting point is Lk. 10:1-16. The Master, thinking like a farmer, tells us that it's all about the harvest. When the harvest is plentiful (10:2), every farmer knows that you free up as many man/hours (and woman/hours) as possible to get the work done. These workers are "supported" to the greatest degree possible (some full time, some part time). They are freed (10:7) from being carpenters, fishermen, doctors and executives because of the condition of the harvest. (When the harvest is not ripe/plentiful, fewer man/hours are needed.)

The other foundational principle that every farm owner knows is that "the laborer is worthy of his wages" (10:7) So, if we thought like a farmer this whole issue would become much clearer. It is proper and reasonable to pay workers to do the work of harvesting the fields.

One final comment on this passage. The Master is talking about support ("wages") for people who are planting home churchs. (No mention here of pastoring here.) Although the word is not used, I think a strong case can be made that these 72 would be considered apostles. (Apostle sent one, see verse 3)

The second most important passage is 1 Cor. 9:1-18 which indicates that it was the normative practice in NT times to support apostles (9:5). Here Paul gives four arguments (9:7-14) which all say the same thing. "It's obvious that 'those who proclaim the G*spel should get their living from the G*spel."

Having made this point repeatedly, Paul then says that he has chosen not to receive support from the Corinthians (9:15). From the context, we must conclude that this is the exception from normal apostolic practice and not the rule. Because of the immaturity of these home churchs, Paul will go out of his way not to put any stumbling blocks in their path. (In order to do this, he has "robbed" other home churchs - see 2 Cor. 11:8-9)

The other place where we see Paul making an exception to normal practice is with the Thessalonian home churchs. (2 Thes. 3:6-12) Because these people were lazy and undisciplined, it was necessary for Paul to model the practice of disciplined living and supporting himself.

So, bottom line. It's about the harvest. Some have suggested that there is a need for a million home churchs in the US. Any farmer will be able to tell you that lots of man/hours will be needed. Many apostles (home church planters) will need to be financed (many full time, many part time). In some situations, the immaturity of the home churchs (or limited "ripeness" of the harvest) will require tentmaking but Scripture indicates that this is not the normal practice. Let's be careful that we don't overreact against the abuses of the IC and thereby limit the harvesting of the fields!

John


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Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 12:48:50 -0400 From: "Dan Beaty"

Subject: Re: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

Link,

Thanks for starting this list. I am grateful to be in the company of others who know that the Lord has saved them for a higher purpose than their own self-satisfaction, and for a forum where they can discuss their specific concerns.

Thanks also for the thorough essay on the practicality of home church concepts. For many years I have seen that the full-time, paid pastor is not necessary and can even be a hindrance, especially when everyone is taking responsibility for the gatherings. That is not to say that the Lord would not require some to quit their jobs for His purposes.

The 12, for instance were called upon to leave their secular work for the Kingdom's sake. Most were to destined to travel, but some did local pastoral work as well.

On tentmaking, I would love to hear what most of you mean by that. I understand that Paul often worked to support both him and his apostolic team. He was not willing to become a burden to the church, or to give cause for misunderstanding of his motives. Someone already mentioned the setting of a good example to the saints.

But I feel that Jesus also had a purpose in mind for those who left their jobs. There was truly a sacrifice involved there, and a level of trust in Him that would surely become an example to believers on another level.

As I see it, the advance of the Kingdom of God is the overarching goal. We should not want either our traditions, or our reactions against them to hinder His Kingdom purposes in our lives.

Dan Beaty Columbus, Ohio USA

www.livingtruth.com


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Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 10:20:49 -0700 (PDT) From: greg Subject: Re: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

This is not a comment against "home churches" at all, as the idea really intrigues me.

I guess my red flag regarding all of the pro-house church stuff I've been reading here in this group is that it would appear that many of you are confusing simple descriptive passages with being prescriptive.

To be blunt (more for brevity's sake) ... HOW something was done in the 1st century is really only relevant to us if there is a clear prescriptive element from the author.

How we "do" church today is not any better or worse than how the early church did. There are gives and takes in each model. Each conxtexutalized for adequate cultural adaptation and interpretation.

Again ... not anti-house church in the least, but always leery of "biblical" imperatives derived from narratives.

As far as I see it (from my limited perspective, I admit) *how* we do church is fair game. We needn't squeeze the New Testament to make it say things that it never intended to.

IMO.


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Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 13:24:36 -0500 From: "Glenn Smith" Subject: RE: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

I agree! Glenn

- -----Original Message----- From: ntchurch planter On Behalf Of greg Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:21 PM To: ntchurch planter Subject: Re: House Church Introduction (was Quit My Job? - WAS: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Fishing?)

This is not a comment against "home churches" at all, as the idea really intrigues me.

I guess my red flag regarding all of the pro-house church stuff I've been reading here in this group is that it would appear that many of you are confusing simple descriptive passages with being prescriptive.

To be blunt (more for brevity's sake) ... HOW something was done in the 1st century is really only relevant to us if there is a clear prescriptive element from the author.

How we "do" church today is not any better or worse than how the early church did. There are gives and takes in each model. Each conxtexutalized for adequate cultural adaptation and interpretation.

Again ... not anti-house church in the least, but always leery of "biblical" imperatives derived from narratives.

As far as I see it (from my limited perspective, I admit) *how* we do church is fair game. We needn't squeeze the New Testament to make it say things that it never intended to.

IMO.


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #7




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