New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


June 18, 2001 Vol 01 : 016

 

RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] home church militants, Babylon, Nicolaitans

[New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] house church militants, Babylon, Nicolaitans

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Church Planting Movements

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Church Planting Movements

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Church Planting Movements

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] struggling to start a house church

 

Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 22:21:57 -0400 From: "Jim Morris"

Subject: RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] home church militants, Babylon, Nicolaitans

I am sorry you feel this way. Like yourself, am certain that the doctrine I oppose (in this case, Preterism, which leads to amellenialism, is a full and complete distortion of scripture, one that teaches the false hope that the chu*ch will one day conquer the world.

I know of literally hundreds of very specific prophecies that are unfulfilled and that speak of The Lord's future dealings with the nation of Israel before His coming in power and glory. Your system of interpretation completely ignores ALL of these very explicit prophecies.

I will post no further notes on this thread.

Jim Morris

- -----Original Message----- From: owner-ntchurch planter [mailto:owner-ntchurch planter]On Behalf Of The Dwelling Place Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2001 10:49 PM To: ntchurch planter Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] home church militants, Babylon, Nicolaitans

No, I really do not want to debate premillenialism or dispensationalism as I deal with all the aches and hurts these "doctrines of men" have caused in the body of Christ. Too many of my friends are wounded and bleeding because of its false teaching.


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 17:34:24 +0700 From: "Link" <hudson*indosat.net.id> Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

I was concerned that a hot topic like eschatology might take over the list. This is a church planter. But eschatology and every other doctrinal issue that we face does relate to church planter, since new believers need to learn all kinds of doctrine.

Fortunately, it seems like the people on the list here have decided to stop and not proceed to a detailed multi-thread discussion of eschatology. It seems everyone is trying to stay focused on church planter on this list. It was actually my comment on Hal Lindsey that sparked the conversation.

One of my concerns is that hot topics can take over a list like this. This list has about 60 people on it now. If new subscribers come on the list wanting to learn about church planter, and find threads full of discussions of eschatology, Calvinism versus Armenianism, security of the believer and other popular discussion topics among believers. These can be profitable discussions, and it may be beneficial for church planter'ers to participate in them. But if these topics take over the list, then subscribers may start to drop off because of volume or because the posts no longer focus on church planter anymore. Keeping posts focused on church planter and keeping the volume of posts to a reasonable level will probably be important for maintaining readership on the list.

On the other hand, I don't want this list to be too restrictive. I'd like it to be a comfortable place for church planter'ers to discuss issues that are important to them. church planter'ers are often people with a lot of ministry gifts and/or experience. Sometimes they can offer unique views on some of these issues. And any doctrinal issue like this can relate to church planter.

So far, this has not been a problem, but when a thread on eschatology developed, I started thinking we might need some sort of policy, or maybe some sort of informal consensus on how the list should operate in this regard.

I'd like to ask current participants in the list for your ideas about how to handle doctrinal issues that pop up like this. I'd like for us to arrive at a policy that we can agree on. I hope this list will meet the needs of church planter'ers, and so I'd like to hear some suggestions about how to deal with doctrinal threads that pop up that could take up a lot of bandwidth on the list.

What I'd like to suggest is a '2 cents worth' approach. If a doctrinal issue not related to church planting pops up, then active posters can give their '2 cents worth.' Whoever wants to post on the issue can give one post stating their position on the issue in one post. Those who want to discuss the issue in depth could do so offlist. Maybe we could refer everyone interested into a web-based forum for discussion or something like that. After a while, we can determine threads that fill up the forum and agree on a list of hot topics that are '2 cents worth topics' which we won't spend a lot of time on in the forum. We can refer people who want to discuss the issues in depth again to the archives and to other forums for discussion. What do posters on the forum think of this idea? Do you want any guidelines regarding what should be discussed in depth on the forum?

Link


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 07:36:42 -0400 From: jferris*blueridge.net (jferris) Subject: RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] home church militants, Babylon, Nicolaitans

Dear Jim,

Jim wrote:

You sound like Eusubius, who, writing in the fourth century, A.D., bitterly complained about the "errors" circulated by Papias. He complained that Papias had misled many of the early writers, particularly Iraneaus, by his "strange" views, particularly the notion "that after the resurrection of the dead there will be a thousand-year period when the kingdom of Chr*st will be established on this earth in material form." He then supposed that Papias "got these notions by misunderstanding the apostolic accounts, not realizing that they had used mystic and symbolic language."

Your error is the same as that of Eusubius. You have built a complicated system of doctrine based on interpretations of the meanings of various scriptures. But you have ignored the express statements of many other scriptures.

I didn't mean to sound like Eusubius, and I am sorry if I stepped on your toes, but I think I can answer some of your reservations about the position I expressed, most specifically the Scriptures that you cited in opposition to what I had written.

Sam, I don't know for sure, but I think we are both in trouble. Perhaps I should say at the outset that Sam and I do not know each other, so please don't hold anything I might say against him.

Three specific scriptures you have ignored are 2 Timothy 3:1-13; "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away... But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."

I fail to see how the expression that I expressed ignores this passage, unless you think that I have suggested that the Millennium reign is a reign in the flesh. It is not. The Kingdom of God is in The Holy Spirit. I very much agree that historic post-millenialism is preoccupied with reigning in the flesh over the flesh. That is clearly not the message of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second is the rhetorical question in Luke 18:8; "when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"

You cannot reign in the Spirit without faith in the Christ who dwells within you. He is the Kingdom, and "the government is on His shoulder." Faith makes substantial, and provides evidence of eternal things.

The third is the basic words of the passage you are applying to yourselves in the present age; Revelation 20:4-5. "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection"

Pre-mellinialists insist that "The souls of them that were beheaded...lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" means that saints will be resurrected, and after they are resurrected they will reign with Christ a thousand years. To call this false doctrine is to insist that the B*ble does not mean what it says.

There is another possibility: Our best understanding of the "mark of the beast" business is, "Don't let man do a number on you." In the beginning it was outward circumcision. Now it's a whole host of things that Gentiles insist on adding to Christ for full acceptance and function in the body of Christ. Seems like there are no end of the self-improvement programs designed to appeal to the vanity of the "old man". Actually that's where religion makes its money. Unfortunately, God only has one program for the "old man", the cross of His Son. So whether your head is removed in the flesh, or removed in it's control over your mind will and emotions, one way or another your head has to go, if you are going to under a new head, The Christ who is the Head of the Church, the head of every man. 1 Corinthians 11:3

There is only one way for Christ to have His reign in and through us, and that is to the degree that the "old man is beheaded, so that we might be under the "new man", even Christ. This is the first resurrection, and this is the "newness of life" that true faith walks in. I wish I could say that I walk there all the time, I don't. It seems to be a progressive process, and every time I begin to entertain the possibility that I may have arrived, my "old man" gets beheaded all over again.

If you are interested in discussing this in civil fashion, I am willing, but I am disheartened to see you condemn simple acceptance of the plain words of scripture as "false doctrine" and "heresy."

Jim Morris

I hope, for my part, I have been "civil" enough.

Jim responding to a subsequent note from Sam, also wrote:

I am sorry you feel this way. Like yourself, am certain that the doctrine I oppose (in this case, Preterism, which leads to amellenialism, is a full and complete distortion of scripture, one that teaches the false hope that the chu*ch will one day conquer the world.

Yes, Jim, I completely agree with this last, "...false hope that the chu*ch will one day conquer the world." Only one person ever did that, and ever will do that. The question is, will He find the faith in you to allow Him to conquer the world in you, even in this present age when we are called to be "more than conquerors."

I know of literally hundreds of very specific prophecies that are unfulfilled and that speak of The Lord's future dealings with the nation of Israel before His coming in power and glory. Your system of interpretation completely ignores ALL of these very explicit prophecies.

Perhaps sam's does, from your perspective, but mine does not. Although I recommend fixing your eyes on Jesus rather than geographical Israel. Jesus is the lynch pin of history. How does that prayer go again?... "...Thy Kingdom come, later on, and Thy will be done, again, later on, but give us right now, this day our daily bread..."

I will post no further notes on this thread.

Jim Morris

Well, in that case, I'll try to behave myself also.

Jay


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 08:11:24 EDT From: Steffasong Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Church Planting Movements

In a message dated 06/17/2001 7:45:51 PM Eastern Daylight Time, DenverWH writes:

My question is this: Do any of you know of church planterMs that are going on currently in North America?

John White House Church Coach Denver, CO.

My husband and I are quite out of the loop, but we are aware of an emerging grassroots development occurring in ...oh, say, -- the last ten years. Small groups springing up all over have begun to trust the Lord Jesus to guide their churches through the power of the Holy Spirit instead of going by the standard ecclesiastic rule book of hierarchy and evangelical protocol.

John, could you share a bit with us about what you do as a house church coach? By any chance, are you a part of the organization called "The Open Church?"

In Christ's love,

Stephanie Bennett

====

Stephanie Bennett


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 08:21:22 -0400 From: jferris*blueridge.net (jferris) Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Dear Link,

Thanks for the expression of your concern, as well as your gentle, and understanding word of caution. You can send this on or not as you like, but I wanted to just say, that only recently have I seen the necessity of getting the issue of circumcision clear first thing. Before there can be intimicy, which is to say before there can be church, there has to be circumcision. Circumcision comes before intimacy. This has to do with Colossians 2, and I have come to see that a proper understanding of the transaction on the cross is necessary to a proper understanding of the eschaton. Otherwise, it is not Churches that are being planted, it is half way houses for the flesh. As the man says, "Seventeen hundred years is enough."

Jay


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 09:17:07 EDT From: DenverWH

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

In terms of methodology, I think your "2 cents" idea makes sense. Underlying that I would hope there would be a mindset of a freedom to "agree to disagree" and yet to remain in relationship if at all possible. I believe it was Melanchthon who said: "Unity in the essentials. Liberty in the nonessentials. Charity in all things." Of course, we Chr'stians have quite a capacity to fight over what the essentials are.

The following quotes are from a fascinating book called Conflict at Rome by James Jeffers. Utilizing archeological evidence and an analysis of two early Chr'stian texts, Jeffers gives us a glimpse into the ch'rch in Rome around 100 A.D. In the book, he make a case for the possible origins of the idea of seeking to control the various house ch'rches in regard to doctrine and practice. If Jeffers is correct, he has identified the seed which came to fruition with Constantine 200 years later.

The following quotes highlight the autonomous and diverse nature of the ch'rches in Rome at that time:

Ch'rch tradition tells us that there were about 25 c'ngregations meeting in Rome at this time. "In the first and second centuries, Chr'stians met in small, essentially autonomous house c'ngregations. As with Roman J'daism, little or no central organization existed. Each house ch'rch would have to decide whether to meet in absolute secrecy or to declare itself a voluntary association. The s'nagogue model as well as the association model and the Romans 16 list suggest that each c'ngregation was ruled by several leaders. Local c'ngregations were named very practically after the Chr'stian in whose home the house ch'rch met. New house ch'rches would arise spontaneously as needed, while others periodically would die out...Chr'stians also were influenced by that specialized r'ligious association, the s'nagogue. The autonomous nature of their s'nagogues help preserve their differing customs and ways of adapting to Roman society. Like the s'nagogues, the early house ch'rches were independent." (p. 47-48)

John White House Church

Coach Denver, CO.


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 21:43:18 +0700 From: "Link"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Ch'rch Planting Movements

church planterM sounds like something focused at winning people groups to the Lord. My guess is that it would appeal more to miss'naries who are working with unreached people groups. But I believe the book, or what I've seen of it, has good principles for the US as well. I think it would be good to keep in mind in the inner cities or prisons.

Someone said that out of 16 church-planting couples at a Vineyard, none of them chose church planterM as a method. If it's the book I saw, church planterM is not really a method, but some general principles.

I saw a book on missi'logy in a library here in Jakarta caleld _The Bridges of God_ by Donald McGravan. I've seen some of the terminology from the book in later writings, so I would guess it was an influential work.

The idea behind the book was the importance of getting whole households clans and people groups to believe, rather than just looking at ev'ngelism as a matter of reaching individuals. The church planterM mindset seems to go well with that.

In areas like the US where there are already a lot of ch'rches, some workers might not be hoping for a mass people movement for Christ occuring in their own ministry. If there is such a movement, there are other ministries to contain the people. If a miss'nary is working in a field where there are few believers, if he has a lot of faith or optimism, he might be thinking and praying about a mass people movement among those he is ministering to. If a rapid growing people movement does break out, and he loads the people down with a lot of non-essential traditions like building meeting halls, organs, imported pews, etc, then the example he gives the people can burden them or slow ch'rch planting in the future.

I spoke with a miss'nary recently who was among the Dani people in Irian Jaya (Ind'onesian Pap'ua) when a people movement broke out. In a matter of weeks, thens of thousands burned their fetishes as he put it- magic instruments, war spears, etc. He told me how they used to have a men's house for a group of interrelated men to go hang out. It was taboo for women to enter. The discipleship started taking place in the men's house as the people group converted. Eventually, they got rid of the taboo of women defiling the men's house and the women came in and could learn, too. He had to teach them to do things so that the Gospel would grow among their people. There 2 or 3 hundred thousand Dani in Irian. The majority profess Christianity now.

church planter'ers who are going to do planting in areas with a lot of ch'rches already, whose church planter'ing may involve gathering together a lot of Christians who have recently moved to an area may not see the need for a church planterM type of strategy as much as someone working with UPG's on the miss'n field. It's a different type of church planter.


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 16:13:45 -0400 From: "Michael Gastin"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Hey Link & Friends,

Link - from the tone of your message it sounds as if you are looking for opinions/feedback. Here is what I would like to contribute to the discussion:

Do we really need to wrestle with heavy doctrine issues at all on this list?

(About 40 folk on the list just slapped their foreheads in disbelief)

I have *not* sat and thought this through, so I ask a little slack on this ... but are there not enough resources, outlets, and platforms to wrangle all the positions, stances, beliefs and so on? Do not get me wrong - I am not against any of that, in the right setting. All I am asking is that what this list is supposed to be about? My concern is if we allow any of these types of topics, the list will be weighted toward this kind of conversation - even if we allow a '2 cents worth' approach, IMHO. (Link, not disagreeing - I am just not convinced that will keep it under control.)

I would love to spend time learning about the experiences of others in church planter'ing, being able to compare notes on what worked and why and maybe network with others who are committed to church planter'ing.

I know our faith is rooted in theology and doctrine and that both are unavoidable, even to those who do not realize they exist. I was just hoping we would not be hashing through it here.

Please forgive me if I am being too simplistic in my approach. I am just one voice in 60. I would like to know what everyone else thinks, too.

Mike

- -- Mike Gastin http://homechurch.org/newsgroup ICQ# 91065491

- ----- Original Message ----- From: "Link" To: <ntchurch planter> Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 6:34 AM

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

I was concerned that a hot topic like eschatology might take over the list. This is a church planter. But eschatology and every other doctrinal issue that we face does relate to church planter, since new believers need to learn all kinds of doctrine.

(snip)


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 15:31:46 -0500 From: "Tony Dale" <tnfdale*jump.net> Subject: RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

From Tony Dale, Agreed!! Let's keep off such things as eschatology (I'm not even sure I know how to spell it) and stay with home church that issues, which is what I understood this list to be primarily interested in.

- -----Original Message----- From: owner-ntchurch planter [mailto:owner-ntchurch planter]On Behalf Of Michael Gastin Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 3:14 PM To: ntchurch planter Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Hey Link & Friends,

Link - from the tone of your message it sounds as if you are looking for opinions/feedback. Here is what I would like to contribute to the discussion:

Do we really need to wrestle with heavy doctrine issues at all on this list?

(About 40 folk on the list just slapped their foreheads in disbelief)

I have *not* sat and thought this through, so I ask a little slack on this ... but are there not enough resources, outlets, and platforms to wrangle all the positions, stances, beliefs and so on? Do not get me wrong - I am not against any of that, in the right setting. All I am asking is that what this list is supposed to be about? My concern is if we allow any of these types of topics, the list will be weighted toward this kind of conversation - even if we allow a '2 cents worth' approach, IMHO. (Link, not disagreeing - I am just not convinced that will keep it under control.)

I would love to spend time learning about the experiences of others in church planter'ing, being able to compare notes on what worked and why and maybe network with others who are committed to church planter'ing.

I know our faith is rooted in theology and doctrine and that both are unavoidable, even to those who do not realize they exist. I was just hoping we would not be hashing through it here.

Please forgive me if I am being too simplistic in my approach. I am just one voice in 60. I would like to know what everyone else thinks, too.

Mike

- -- Mike Gastin http://homechurch.org/newsgroup ICQ# 91065491

- ----- Original Message ----- From: "Link" <hudson*indosat.net.id> To: <ntchurch planter> Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 6:34 AM Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

I was concerned that a hot topic like eschatology might take over the list. This is a church planter. But eschatology and every other doctrinal issue that we face does relate to church planter, since new believers need to learn all kinds of doctrine.

(snip)


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 16:42:25 EDT From: DenverWH Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Ch'rch Planting Movements

Stephanie,

I am also aware of the "grassroots movement" house church movement that has sprung up over the last 10 years or so. In fact, there are many indications that this movement has begun to accelerate in the last year or two. I am aware of Gene Edwards and Frank V.. However, in both cases, I don't think a Church Planting Movement has yet resulted. ("a rapid and exponential increase of indigenous church planting churches within a given people group or population segment.")

By comparison, in places like China and India these movements are resulting in literally thousands of new churches being planted. (Estimates are that there are over one million house churchs in China.) The purpose of my email was to see if anyone knew of anything like that beginning in the US.

My ministry is to plant and nurture house churchs in the Denver area (we have 6 so far - - not quite "exponential increase" yet!). I am really functioning as an apostle but that term is either unknown or misunderstood in much of our culture. So, I often use the term "coach" which conveys some (though not all) of the functions of an apostle.

Jim Rutz ("The Open Church") is a friend and we've done some work together.

John White House Church Coach

Denver, CO.


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 19:13:38 -0400 From: The Dwelling Place

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Whole-hearted agreement on my part. The discussion should be focussed on home church and little else. There are just some things that I tee off on, and one of them is guess what? ;-)

My concern here is for a central focus on house church.[PERIOD]

Sam Buick Waterloo, ON

From: "Tony Dale" <tnfdale*jump.net> Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 15:31:46 -0500 To: <ntchurch planter> Subject: RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

From Tony Dale, Agreed!! Let's keep off such things as eschatology (I'm not even sure I know how to spell it) and stay with home church that issues, which is what I understood this list to be primarily interested in.

-----Original Message----- From: owner-ntchurch planter [mailto:owner-ntchurch planter]On Behalf Of Michael Gastin Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 3:14 PM To: ntchurch planter

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Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Hey Link & Friends,

Link - from the tone of your message it sounds as if you are looking for opinions/feedback. Here is what I would like to contribute to the discussion:

Do we really need to wrestle with heavy doctrine issues at all on this list?

(About 40 folk on the list just slapped their foreheads in disbelief)

I have *not* sat and thought this through, so I ask a little slack on this ... but are there not enough resources, outlets, and platforms to wrangle all the positions, stances, beliefs and so on? Do not get me wrong - I am not against any of that, in the right setting. All I am asking is that what this list is supposed to be about? My concern is if we allow any of these types of topics, the list will be weighted toward this kind of conversation - even if we allow a '2 cents worth' approach, IMHO. (Link, not disagreeing - I am just not convinced that will keep it under control.)

I would love to spend time learning about the experiences of others in church planter'ing, being able to compare notes on what worked and why and maybe network with others who are committed to church planter'ing.

I know our faith is rooted in theology and doctrine and that both are unavoidable, even to those who do not realize they exist. I was just hoping we would not be hashing through it here.

Please forgive me if I am being too simplistic in my approach. I am just one voice in 60. I would like to know what everyone else thinks, too.

Mike

----- Original Message ----- From: "Link" <hudson*indosat.net.id> To: <ntchurch planter> Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 6:34 AM Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

I was concerned that a hot topic like eschatology might take over the list. This is a church planter. But eschatology and every other doctrinal issue that we face does relate to church planter, since new believers need to learn all kinds of doctrine.

(snip)


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 19:54:27 -0400 From:(jferris)

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admi.n> focus of the list

Well, It's beginning to look unanamous against talking about eschatology. So I hesitate to say anything more.

But I think there are some very important implications for faith and practice, depending on one's eschatological point of view. The "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" doctrine is not a very good foundation to build a credible church on. The real problem is the place of Christ in the life of believers. While claiming a love we can go to hell with, we are more likely to break fellowship over the smallest offense. Too much which claims to be reproduction and growth is actually the result of church splits, and now we are taking the same carnal attitudes into our living rooms. Looks like progress in the wrong direction to me.

I think it is clear to most of us that something has been terribly wrong for a very long time, and I think we should be careful about restricting our search for answers, lest, once again, we "bandage the wound of God's people as though it's not deep."

Jay


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 17:07:24 -0700 From: Barry Steinman <info*DiscountChristian.Com>

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] struggling to start a house church

Deborah,

Your post caught my eye.

Just wondering if you know a friend of mine in Jerusalem.

Zvi Randelman , he is at a fellowship called Succat David

Also, I heard that Wolfgang Simpson was in Israel talking about house churches recently. Did you have any contact with that?

Blessings

Barry

Here's my deal. I'm working with one of the oldest Messianic congregations in Israel. We have a central congregation with a building in Jerusalem. We had six other 'plants' in various locations, mostly in houses on the coast and in the north (Galilee). All of the daughter congregations save one folded for various reasons-- persecution, inner-congregational conflict, lethargy toward (... or even a principled stand against ...) evangelism. Presently I am supposed to be leading a satelite house group in central Jerusalem. I would like to develop relationships and cultivate an outward (evangelistic) focus among the believers. However, we have had less than an enthusiastic response thus far among members of the mother congregation in my district. Our group has a meatless (kosher) meal, with a discussion on a Bible section or topic, prayer together, and sharing. We have had attend one German Christian lady, one female Israeli believer, and a Christian man from Venezuela. All fairly young. My family and I are from the U.S; I'm in my early forties. However, no one has come since last December. 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. 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? 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. Do I sound frustrated and jaded? It's probably because I am. Any experienced church planters with a word or two of advice? I can take honest criticism. No trite attempts, however, at encouragement right now please. I don't know if I could stomach it.

Shalom,

--MICHAEL

- -- Barry Steinman


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #16




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