New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


June 14, 2001 Vol 01 : 009

 

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

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

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

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Biblical pattern

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Struggling to start a home church

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

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

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Struggling to start a home church

 

Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 05:05:31 -0700 (PDT) From: Vanessa DiDomenico Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Planting] Fishing & Making Tents - the best of both

Yes, yes. I personally don't recognize any sort of 'ordained' anything. I have yet to read a verse in the bible that says God's workers should be ordained by worldly circles, therefore, I believe that caring for such things at all is a sign of being a worldly person, not spiritual. I try to keep my students from calling me 'teacher' which in Spanish is the same word as 'master', but don't get on their case when they do!! However, I HAVE noticed that when they forget the 'teacher' or 'Miss...' thing and simply call me VANESSA, we advance to a level where I can help them much, much more in their personal problems than if I'm 'master'. [note that I am not in a traditional school setting, but working with children who are very poor (the poorest in Mississippi are WEALTHY compared to these), and who deal with prostitutes and criminals and narcs every day93;.

Interestingly, one could apply this to non-religious circles, too. For example, I noted it wasn't worth it finishing college here after I came back from the USA, because I already knew more than many professors (my mother, a math professor, laughed as she told me this). I have no diploma, but have often TAUGHT math to engineers, corn chemistry to Cargill executives, etc.

Vanessa

- --- Crispus K R wrote: You are right Venessa. However, Rev. is being used as a title by circular world to recognize that the person is ordained priest and therefore they can practice or officiate religious activities under the law or regulations provided in many countries. They also enjoy the privileges given to only religious leaders by the respective nation.

But as for us we are all royal priests according to the Bible and we have the freedom to serve the Lord. The only places we might be restricted are the constituted organizations or nations requiring official ordination papers from registered / recognized religious institutions.

God bless you richly in all things

Crispus


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Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 05:11:24 -0700 (PDT) From: Vanessa DiDomenico Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Planting] Fishing & Making Tents - the best of both

I know I'm being a pain, but I think it's NOT the same thing to have others call you Rev than to be putting it in front of your own name as if saying 'I am Rev'. many times my students praise me endlessly, an I make sure to tell them IT'S NOT ME, it's Jesus that sent me, I'm only a worthless tool. I personally don't trust anyone who calls himself Reverend, and I've had better experiences here with catholic priests than with these new Christians who call themselves Reverends, following the example of the USA, with the difference that we don't have 2 centuries of Protestant tradition. SO, by allowing themselves to be called REVEREND, the US and Europeans are teaching new Christians bad habits. many are becoming pastors ONLY for the privilege of being superior.

Vanessa

- --- Dan Shepherd <shepherd*nclministries.org> wrote: Vanessa, As a side note-Cathian and I actually are involved with a common ministry. Many Christians who are called to the work of the Gospel by the Lord, have the letters Rev. in front of their names. I don't think that it's a claim to be God or a demand of respect. I always feel weird being called it myself, but I wouldn't look down on (or up to) a person who doesn't. Depending on the ministry you work in (home church's, street evangelism, chaplaincy) you get called Rev. by accident or because of the work you do.

If someone calls me Rev. because I am doing the work of Christ, then I take that as a huge compliment to be compared with my Master! If someone says to me-"well I'm a minister, so I know better blah blah blah...." I pretty much shut my mind to them and just remember that they may be out for their own recognition than to serve Christ.

Bro. Dan


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Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 05:13:22 -0700 (PDT) From: Vanessa DiDomenico Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Planting] Fishing & Making Tents - the best of both

Well, mark, the ONLY original reason I had for sending this message was to find out which verse that would be! I hadn't even thought anyone would be bothered, because I truly did NOT think badly of the person who was Rev in the original message. I thought he has just made a typo or something.

Vanessa

- --- Mark Ware wrote: interesting. I suspect it depends on the translation/version one is reading. I wonder if it is that way in the original Hebrew? Can you cite the scripture from more than one translation agreeing with your point?

Just curious!

Blessings to you sister,

Mark South Florida

On Tuesday, June 12, 2001, at 04:16 PM, Vanessa DiDomenico wrote:

I had heard that Reverend is a term used in the Bible to refer ONLY to God, and that if one uses it, one is practically saying 'I am God; listen and shut up!!'

What do you think, Link??

Vanessa

--- "Rev. Cathian C. Surbrook, DD"


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Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 09:01:52 -0400 From: "Dan Beaty"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Biblical pattern

Michael wrote:

<<Link wrote:

I suspect a lot of the preaching we read about in the

Bible was not done tent-crusade style. I doubt Paul

had a praise band sing before he preached in the

Aereopogas.

The Apostle Paul answers:

"And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might BY ALL MEANS save some" (1 Cor. 9:20-22-- emphasis mine).

I elaborate:

"If it works and it's moral it's okay"

Several of the brothers and in our home church have gifts in musical instruments and in singing, which we love to see used to glorify God. We also desire to see the Gospel preached, both on an individual basis and publicly. So we have been thinking for some time about setting up our music in one of the public parks, singing not only Christian songs relative to the Gospel, but also secular songs with positive messages. Perhaps one way to be that city set on a hill.

I did not take Link to mean that tent revival meetings were wrong, but that we need to understand that modern methods are not the only way, and often were never used in the NT.

Greg's point about prescriptive and descriptive passages is a helpful one. I suspect that each group, however, will choose its own set of prescriptive passages to support their particular practices. And maybe that is how the Lord is leading them?

There are some in home church who preach an either/or philosophy, but I am for both/and as long as the Lord gets the glory and the whole church is built up spiritually -- not just the lucky few who get to be up front, so to speak.

Tom's comment on community is so important also. That is why church programs and practices need to be put in proper perspective. They can either encourage or inhibit true community among believers.

Dan Beaty www.livingtruth.com


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Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 18:59:25 +0700 From: "Link" Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Struggling to start a home church

Hi Mike,

I'm not a an experienced church planter. But I do have the experience of leading a home group that fizzled out in a similar way. I don't know if that qualifies me to give advice, but I'll try anyway. :)

One of the problems with our home group was that people were busy and traffic is awful. Sometimes people do have schedule conflicts. If people are apathetic about the cell group, it's hard to get them to come.

One thing I tried to keep in mind was that, even though I was leading or hosting the group, or whatever, I shouldn't think of things in terms of my own ministry being unsuccessful. If the members of the group didn't like our meeting, didn't come because there was no parking, our house was out of the way, or schedule conflicts, that was understandable. As long as they got their need for fellowship, prayer, Bible study, and experiencing Christ met, that was what was important, not whether they attended my cell in particular.

I've thought about how pastors in the US must feel when members they care about to other churches. It seems like some church leaders can fall into the temptation of thinking of their own kingdom, rather than God's kingdom. They can get so caught up in trying to get people to go to _their_ church and trying to get programs set up, that they ask themselves what's good for the kingdom.

Some of the people in the cell group I was in were very active in other cell groups. They came the first few times, and then after that came when there was something special like a social get-together or food. A very tiny core of people stayed after a few weeks. One of those guys had just confessed a sin he was involved in, and was trying to get over it. After a while, he stopped coming. When I saw him, I tried to keep in mind that what was important was that this man was in a situation where he was spiritually cared for, had fellowship, and accountability. I'd invite him to the cell group or just to the house. He'd say he'd come, but then usually he didn't. I kept telling him if he didn't come to our cell to get some people to pray and study with. Eventually he did.

Our cell group basically fizzled out. If we do it again, I think we'll choose a different night and not bill it as a bilingual group. Maybe I could help with a cell group in another location. The parking is not so good where I'm at. These mundane factors: location, the night of the meeting, and things like that make a big difference in who comes to a cell group, especially if they consider the big meeting to be 'normal church' and the cell to be an additional extra. I ended up getting involved with another cell group that was going strong, where I got to do some teaching and other ministry.

Something else that might be a problem for you, since you are in a big congregation with cells, is something that a miss'nary who has an ev. school here told me. When we were hosting the cell group, I told him that our cell group wasn't working out well. He said that if the church leadership wasn't making a strong stand for the cell groups, the congregation would not think they were important. Churches with successful cell groups usually strongly emphasize their importance. Maybe you should talk to the leadership about 'plugging' home meetings, fellowship, family relationships, and community. Btw, that miss'nary is in the instrumental end of the RM movement you are in.

I spoke with the house group coordinator and our main teaching elder for advice and they informed me that members of the group had mentioned to them that they wanted a verse-by-verse study through a book in the Bible. When I asked our group members they each said they had conflicting activities. Okay, something's up. I didn't think we needed more doctrine-- our congregation is strong on biblical teaching, weak on relationships-- but if that's what will bring us together .... Nevertheless, I think the primary point of contention is the format and focus of the meetings. I am interested in actually getting to know people, and for them to know my family and me. This requires a degree of intimacy many people are not willing to give. But what then is biblical koinonia?

Does the church/synagogue you go to strongly emphasize the importance of fellowship, community and that sort of thing? I would think that would be extremely important over there. Young people who repent would need new homes, new fathers, mothers, etc. Anyone who believed among that people group would need a strong social support network to enter into. A really strong family type environment would really help. Maybe people repent so slow that this need is not felt.

Since you are dealing with expats (individualistic ones?), they might not think of fellowship as so important.

The ironic thing about this is that I know you are strongly gifted as a teacher. Yet because you see a need for fellowship and community, you wanted to offer more elements of that. I wonder if the group would have been very happy if you had taught them verse by verse from the Bible.

Bob Fitts, author of _The Church in the House_, suggests a method of Bible study which involves one person reading a couple of verses from a chapter. Then anyone is free to comment or ask a question. After a discussion on the verse, the next person in the circle reads a couple of verses and the process continues.

You just have to be careful to direct the conversations away from idle speculations, pop psychology, and things like that. Do you think the people you were meeting with were interested in that?

Something you might consider doing if you get a group together is starting out with a teaching on the philosophy of meeting. If you teach them, they may see the same visions, and realize their need for fellowship, participation in Christian community, being like family members with other believers. etc.

For example, you could focus on the verse in Acts 2 which lists fellowship right up there with prayer, breaking bread and the apostles' doctrine, and cause them to consider if they are lacking in that area of their lives. Also, in I John, it says that if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have _fellowship_ with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

Wow! Fellowship is very important.

I'm thinking back about my cell group experiences. Right now I'm involved in a cell group where the church used to have a 'hymn sandwich in cell meetings- songs, a sermon, songs. Then, they decided to be more 'house church' and allow everyone to prophesy, but some people went to extremes. So they said to build up relationships, go out to eat, and try to get to know each other.

The relationships in the cell group are good. The group is supposed to move on into mutual ministry, but our group is still sort of stuck in chat mode. People get together and just chat. We talk about God and the Bible and things. But we also talk a lot about other things. Some meetings are good. Others feel too much like chatting at a coffee shop. It's kind of frustrating for my wife and I, who want more out of the meetings.

I was a part of one home group once and it was just beautiful. We had a meeting with songs and a sermon. But after the meeting we had 'ministry time' where we could pray for each other. A lot of gifts of the Spirit were stirred up.

The teaching didn't even focus so much on fellowship, but from praying with each other, we got bonded together. Paul mentions 'the fellowship of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' By ministering to one another with gifts of the Holy Spirit, we developed a type of closeness that is hard to develop from just chatting and having 'fellowship' in a really shallow way. After a short while, we had some close relationships, even though there was a huge age difference between the members of the group. It's like the unity of the Spirit we experienced did away with the problems of the generation gap.

If you can get people in the cell group to start ministering to one another with their gifts, and giving and receiving from one another, then they may develop these types of relationships.

I remember you taught a Bible study to some young men out of the sermon on the mount. The men were to actually live out the teaching, and report back. Did that build up friendship, fellowship, and that sort of thing?

You can see one of the problems is cultural and/or linguistic, having such a varied group-- this is par-for-the-course in our setting. In addition, evangelism is a "naughty" word here, with ex-pats often more interested in getting their visas renewed than in expanding the kingdom, and Israeli believers scared of the social repercussions taking a somewhat "public" stand might have on them.

Michael,

Did you suggest the members of your home group go out on the park benches and evangelize, or did you talk a lot about the need for evangelism? I could see how this would scare some people off, even if they needed to hear that.

It seems like my wife is about 50 times more evangelistically gifted than I am. She told me that when I tell people about the Lord, it almost sounds like I'm arguing with them.

I saw the way she testified to some people one time. She'd told me the story about being moved to get out of a bus and pray for a man who got hit by a bus in Jakarta several years ago. The man wasn't breathing. There she was, praying loudly in the name of Jesus in front of a group of M'slims! When she said she pulled the man's spirit back from death in the name of Jesus, the man started exhaling. Everyone was standing around dumbfounded looking at her. She realized he had some friends with him, so she told them to get a taxi and take him to the hospital. She got back on her bus, and her Christian friend, on his way to a meeting with her, was upset with her for leaving him on the bus, and for doing something so dangerous.

I took my wife to a get-together someone retired from my office threw. A couple of Muslim women with heads their covered sat there talking with my wife. My wife told the story about raising that guy from the dead! The host of the party was a Christian, and she commented quietly to me how religious my wife was. I was impressed by her boldness.

After it was over, she said she didn't realize how bold that must have sounded. But by giving a testimony, she didn't start a fight. What could they say? They wouldn't argue with her experience. They might leave the conversation wondering about the power in the name of Jesus. She didn't tell them _you_ have to repent.

My wife said I need to meditate more on my experiences. She does this and has a lot of testimonies. I have experiences, but don't meditate on them like she does and rarely share them as testimonies. This is something I think I can learn from my life.

Maybe you could teach people to make baby steps in witnessing like this. Instead of encouraging them to go straight into serious dialogue on religion, encourage them to tell what Christ means to them in their conversation. They can talk about their faith as a personal matter to themselves before moving up to the realm of telling others that they need to repent. Think about answers to prayer they can work into conversations- that sort of thing. This is something I need to develop in myself. Most people are not as gifted at religious dialogue as you are.

If you tell your group about the need to ev. and they suspect you are going to arrange some kind of outreach where they have to witness to a stranger, they might suddenly discover they have a schedule conflict. If you tell them they can work testimony about the relationship with the Lord into their conversations in a relatively unthreatening way, and show them how, they might feel a little less threatened.

About encouragement- Maybe you need to learn to chew the cud.

What I mean is learn to ruminate more, or meditate more on your experiences. Like what my wife told me about needing to meditate more on my experiences. Maybe you need to do that more to encourage yourself in the Lord.

Notice how David recalled the awesome works of the Lord. This was a way of encouraging himself in the Lord. Let's face it. You are working in a really tough area doing really tough ministry. You know the statistics.

Think about a soldier in W.W.II. He has his letters from Mom and his girlfriend or wife. He reads those letters, looks at his girlfriend's pictures and his family's pictures. Psychologically, memories of his family get him through the battle in one piece.

Every time the Lord does something great, you need to file that away. I know you experience the Lord working in your ministry, since I've read your newsletters. Remember those things. Cherish them. Recall them if you are discouraged. The battle field you are in is a really rough one, and you need to highly value small things. Others put out the same effort in other countries that you do and see a lot more people come to the Lord.

Brother Crispus, a participant on this list, has said that success in God's kingdom is measured by how obedient you are to Him. That is a good philosophy to hold to. At least at this point, you are not seeing a lot of results in terms of numbers to look at with satisfaction. Just be obedient to Christ and take satisfaction in whatever you gives you.

Something else that might encourage you is finding a Timothy. I know in the past, at times, younger men would gather around you and learn about the doctrine of Christ from you. Is there some young man with potential in your church or at your school that you could recruit to help you in your work? Someone with a good heart, enthusiasm about serving the Lord, and potential? If you could have someone like this helping you with your cell group, it could be a real encouragement. If you and your wife are the only ones who seem to care about the group, that can be really disappointing.

If you do try the method of Bible study mentioned above, you could practice it with your wife and, if you get one, your young helper. That way, they can work to help pull group discussion away from unprofitable conversation if that is a problem.

Link Hudson


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Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 06:27:07 -0700 (PDT) From: Vanessa DiDomenico

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

I MUST disagree with you! In fact, the way that church is done today had me believing that GOD DID NOT EXIST for many years, since it's so very illogical and definitely corrupt. I have been able to show many people that God IS there simply by showing them that today's 'church' is not the real church. I was raised as an atheist (I was a virgin when converted), and only the way church is done today had kept me away from God after I knew Him. I was convinced that it had to be a farce... until I realized that homechurch is the REAL way, then everything made sense, and God has been blessing me ever since!

Vanessa

- --- Tom Belt wrote: 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.

Greg-

Good question. I sat in on a great 3-day cell/house/whatever seminar few years ago. The speaker (forgot his name) said something wonderful. He said the goal of believers getting together is COMMUNITY. It's that simple. He added that there's no ONE right structure that guarantees genuine "community." So I agree with ya. The biblical prescriptive--if you will--is genuine Christian "community." What structures best achieve that in your context might not work in mine.

Tom


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Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 09:50:10 -0400 From: Mark Ware

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

OK.

Hey, peace to you sister. No problem. I like our collective dialog, and you've helped us all get there on this topic.

have a blessed week

Mark

On Thursday, June 14, 2001, at 08:13 AM, Vanessa DiDomenico wrote:

Well, mark, the ONLY original reason I had for sending this message was to find out which verse that would be! I hadn't even thought anyone would be bothered, because I truly did NOT think badly of the person who was Rev in the original message. I thought he has just made a typo or something.

Vanessa

--- Mark Ware wrote: interesting. I suspect it depends on the translation/version one is reading. I wonder if it is that way in the original Hebrew? Can you cite the scripture from more than one translation agreeing with your point?

Just curious!

Blessings to you sister,

Mark South Florida

On Tuesday, June 12, 2001, at 04:16 PM, Vanessa DiDomenico wrote:

I had heard that Reverend is a term used in the Bible to refer ONLY to God, and that if one uses it, one is practically saying 'I am God; listen and shut up!!'

What do you think, Link??

Vanessa

--- "Rev. Cathian C. Surbrook, DD"


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Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 10:04:30 EDT From: DenverWH

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Struggling to start a home church

I've recently been challenged by an article by Neil Cole (Ch*rch? Multiplication Associates in CA). He makes the point that we were never? commanded to plant ch*rches but to make disciples. His experience has been? that as they have focused on disciple making (using a tool they call Life? Transformation Groups) that rapid multiplication of home churches has resulted. (They? have planted 33 home churches this year in California and Arizona.) This approach has? made sense to us and we have begun 7 of these LTG groups so far. We'll see? what fruit is produced.

I'll include Neil's article below. This approach may be too programmatic for? some but if you want more information on this, just email me directly? (DenverWH).

John White Denver

Spontaneous Multiplication of Disciples through Life Transformation Groups by Neil Cole

In the past, sweat and blood was required to see meager multiplication occur? in discipleship. Today, I see spontaneous multiplication I always longed for? but doubted I would ever experience.

Reproduction is a natural function of the church and is part of G*d's design? and plan. The fact that so much personal effort is required for even the? smallest of results in the reproduction of disciples is strong evidence that? something is wrong - something unnatural to the process. The power to? multiply is inherent in the body of Chr*st; we need only to tap that power.?

Through parables, Jesus described a kingdom that had no difficulty expanding? or multiplying. Luke documents a movement that gained such momentum through? spontaneous multiplication of disciples and ch*rches that its opponents? accused Paul of turning the world upside down! Many of us are aware of such? things happening in ch*rch history or on foreign mission fields, but most of? us must confess we have never experienced such unconstrained multiplication? in the western ch*rch.?

Many are very intentional about multiplying groups and ch*rches, assuming? that disciple making will result. However, the results are less than? effective. And - this is Biblically backward! On the contrary, only when we? become intentional about making and multiplying disciples can we be assured? that groups and ch*rches will multiply.? Through Life Transformation Groups (LTGs), I have witnessed group? multiplication in as little as three months through conversion growth. In? fact, multiplication occurred faster and easier than I was prepared to? handle.?

One evening some women in my church challenged me by saying, "Don't talk to? us about multiplication. We don't want to hear it. We like our group and? don't want to split up." I considered this a good opportunity to test the? natural function of reproduction, so I told them they didn't have to? multiply. I intentionally stopped pushing reproduction to test the truth of? natural and spontaneous multiplication. Within four months, that same group? of women became three groups without any help from me.

LTG's were first introduced in a leadership development workbook titled? "Raising Leaders for the Harvest", which I co-authored with Bob Logan. Though? the workbook exists only in English, I have heard of LTG's on almost every? continent of the globe!? On a recent trip to Australia, I met a man who was using LTG's after hearing? about them from a friend. He was in touch with a ch*rch leader in Sri Lanka? who was frustrated with typical discipleship methodology. The LTG concept was? passed through the phone lines, and now LTG's are multiplying in Sri Lanka.? Who knows where they will go from there!?

These groups spread like a wild fire because the breath of God blows on? obedient disciples who find fuel in dry lives longing to burn for the Lord.? Because the system is simple, the flames spread unhindered. Ordinary? Chr*stians are empowered to do the most important work any of us can do -? make and multiply disciples.

Neil Cole Long Beach, CA

1997-2000 ChurchSmart Resources


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #9

 


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