New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


June 19, 2001 Vol 01 : 017
 
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] <Admin.> focus of the list

[New Testament Church Proliferation] 2 Cents

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

[New Testament Church Proliferation] focus of the list

[New Testament Church Proliferation] re: first century church

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] re: first century church

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] focus of the list/NT Church Foundations

 

Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 20:19:03 -0400 From: The Dwelling Place

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

What is it that you propose Jay?

Just asking. All I know is that I believe that the Kingdom has come in Christ Jesus and it goes farther and farther into all the earth as others are brought into the Kingdom and in sweet communion with Him. Christ did not proclaim defeatism but dominion in the world.

I do not believe in man doing it in his strength, for indeed that is carnal. I am not speaking of unity at any price either, for there are things that we do no agree upon. But as I understand the unity Jesus called for was unity with the Father as He had with the Father. We, all of us, as individual believers, can have that unity with the Father. When we do, then something special happens in the spirit realm...the Kingdom comes in strength and power in our own lives and in the lives of those with whom we fellowship.

There are significant differences eschatology, and I for one am not a defeatist premillenialist. I am a trans-millenialist and approach the body of Christ as a spiritual body that is advancing in the earth. The natural eye may not see or discern it, but the Kingdom of God is advancing in the earth, one person at at time.

God's covenant with His people is eternal and He will give us the victory, for it is He, by His Spirit and those called according to His purposes that not only proclaims but achieves the victory. We are co-laborers with Him as the Kingdom advances in the hearts of men, women and children in the earth.

I just wondered what you were implying and suggesting with you comments, for I too believe that what you believe determines how you act. How one views the "future" determines how he lives in the present. This is why I approach the future with resolve and quiet confidence for I know in Who I have believed and put my trust, and I know it is He who extends the Kingdom in the hearts of men.

Blessings,

Sam

From: jferris Reply-To: ntchurch planter Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 19:54:27 -0400

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

Well, It's beginning to look unanimous 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 22:06:22 -0400 From: Bruce P Gordon <b-

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] 2 Cents

Link, I think your 2 Cents worth approach is fair to all. I saw these types of discussions get out of control on another list and it's very tiresome, especially for one who is busy, and especially if one is only on a list because of a strong interest in the topic (NT Ch Plant+ing) that is available almost nowhere else in list-serv-land.

I am all for sound doctrine, but I think that if we are to discuss doctrinal issues, they ought to be strongly related to NTC and NTchurch planter type issues.

I support your efforts to keep things on track. Thanks for all your work.

Bruce Gordon

-= - ntcp info page: http://homechurch.org/world-missions/planting -= -

Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 22:17:55 -0400 From: "Dan Beaty"

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

Mike wrote:

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

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.

I too am concerned that we do not lose the focus and purpose of this list. I also understand the temptation to hash through issues when getting into a forum such as this. But it is relatively easy to do an off list discussion with all interested parties when the desire and even need is there.

As long as the majority of the posts are relative to new testament church planting, I am comfortable when the side issues come up. But it is so predictable when they to come up!

It will take a constant, patient effort from from the active participants to maintain the focus. But at least we have so far no one hollering "censorship!" Maybe a general consensus can be reached and we can work together towards this common goal.

Dan Beaty


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Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 20:00:16 -0700 (PDT) From: Link H

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] focus of the list

So far, it doesn't seem like a big eschatology thread has taken over the list. If we can all just police ourselves to keep our conversation centered on church planter and related issues, then there may be no need for a '2 cents worth' list of topics.

If people want to discuss eschatology in depth, someone could offer to start an off-list discussion, ask for email addresses of participants, and have a discussion off-list. Eschatology is a worthy topic. But most subscribers to this newsgroup are not active posters. They are lurkers, or maybe not even lurkers, but instead super-busy people in ministry who occasionally scan over the titles of messages looking for something useful to them. So we should probably keep the list fairly focused.

One of my concerns if we make up a list of off-list discussion topics is that it might prevent some people from bringing up topics that are directly related to home church. One type of post on a forum like this is the 'What should I do?' post, and I'd like this to a place where people can come for advice.

Someone might say, "I started an home church. I taught the people XYZ about doctrine and someone else came in and taught ABC, which I consider to be false doctrine. How should I go about." that sort of thing. If XYZ and ABC are off topic, then people might be afraid of discussing these issues.

Eschatology relates to church planting. We all want churches to have good doctrine. Eschatology also effects world view, and world view effects motivation for church planters and how churches influence society. Some say pre-tribbers are pessimistic. If we look around though, we see that a lot of people who hold to pre-mil and even pre-trib views have done a lot of church planter work. I hear the AOG is the largest Protestant denomination in the world now, and they are very pre-trib and Christianity versus culture in their world view. Pre-tribbers can be enthusiastic and optimistic about the commands to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and the passage in Revelation about people from every tongue, tribe, and nation praising the Lord.

Since eschatology can be related to church planting. If we discuss eschatology, maybe we can discuss it in relation to church planting.

Another issue is one of churches holding to the basics of the faith. For me, personally, a belief in the bodily resurrection of the dead at the end of the age is a central issue of the faith. If there be no resurrection of the dead, Paul wrote, Christ died in vain, and our faith in is in vain. Paul delivered some men over to Satan for teaching that the resurrection had come already. There is what seems to be a minority view among Preterists that the resurrection for us is spiritual, and that Christ will not return. This type of doctrinal issue is one that others who believe in a literal Second Coming and resurrection may consider to be related to church planter work. Doctrine concerning the resurrection was an issue Paul faced with his church plants.

The issue of how to ground new believers in proper doctrine is related to church planter work. One some areas, we may disagree about what proper doctrine is. But I don't want us to close off the possibility of discussing valid church planter issues because they relate to doctrine.

Something else to point out is that this list is not exclusively home church either. There are a number of people from different backgrounds on this list. I think over half the list is made up of home church or home church-friendly people. But there may be many others who are interested in planting churches according to the NT who aren't in the home church movement. Those starting big IC's often need the same type of information and advice that home church people need- how to disciple new people, how to evangelize, etc.

If the eschatology thread develops and turns into a verse by verse discussion, how about if we put together a list of email addresses of those interested in an off-list discussion and do it that way. Maybe an off-list web forum specifically for the members of this list would be easier to participate in.

Btw, there is an easy-to-use web-based forum specifically dedicated to eschatology. I don't endorse all the views on this forum, and there are already a number of posters participating on the forum. The address is http://www.serve.com/larryi/eschatology/eschatology.html.

If those interested in discussing eschatology want to go into detail on the topic would like, they can go to that forum and discuss the topic in great detail, if it's running properly. Be careful not to announce this forum publicly in there, though, because there are cultists that post there, too.

- -Link Hudson


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Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 08:21:08 +0200 From: "Deborah"

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] re: first century church

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

John White quoted from James Jeffers' book CONFLICT IN ROME which claimed:

Church tradition tells us that there were about 25 congregations meeting in?

Rome at this time. "In the first and second centuries, Christians met in

small, essentially autonomous house congregations. As with Roman Judaism,?

little or no central organization existed. Each house church would have to?

decide whether to meet in absolute secrecy or to declare itself a voluntary?

association. The synagogue model as well as the association model and the?

Romans 16 list suggest that each congregation was ruled by several leaders.?

Local congregations were named very practically after the Christian in whose?

home the house church met. New house churches would arise spontaneously as?

needed, while others periodically would die out...Christians also were?

influenced by that specialized religious association, the synagogue. The

autonomous nature of their synagogues help preserve their differing customs?

and ways of adapting to Roman society. Like the synagogues, the early house?

churches were independent." (p. 47-48)<<

Just a little fine-tuning is in order. Jewish synagogues throughout the empire were classified under Roman law as "collegia," because they shared traits with private clubs, guilds, and other cultic establishments which were permitted to assemble, have common meals, own common property, share fiscal responsibilities. discipline members, and bury members. The Jews were given the privilege by Julias Caesar "to live according to their ancestral laws" because they had existed as a distinct people since before the Roman Empire and because they had aided the Romans during the civil war of the Maccabean period (Josephus, Ant. 12.3.3; 14.10.1-11.2; 16.1.3; 16.6.2; 19.6.3; Philo, Legatione Ad Gaium 23.155-58). This status included the right to interpret the laws and customs of their own community, exemption from military service, exemption from emperor worship and idolatry-based civic cults, the right to collect and send the Temple tax for Jerusalem, and the right to form new synagogues or hold home groups without seeking specific authorization to do so (Josephus, Ant. 14.10.6-15).?

When the book of Romans was written (55-58 A.D.) there were no less than eleven synagogues in the empire's capital city, and with a Jewish population of up to 50,000, the number was probably far higher-- a figure which, as we will see, meshes well with Jeffers' estimation of about 25 Christian congregations by the year 100 A.D. (Leon, Harry J. THE JEWS OF ANCIENT ROME. Philadelphia: The Jewish publication Society of America, 1960. 135-66; also Lampe, Peter. "The Roman Christians of Romans 16," THE ROMANS DEBATE. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991. 216-30). It seems that synagogues in Rome at this earlier period most often met in modified private homes and/or tenement rooms which could accommodate no more than 20-40 persons per meeting. There exists no evidence of Jewish basilica structures during the infant stages of the Roman church, though more modest buildings existed for worship (Rutgers, Leonard V. "The Jews in Late Ancient Rome: An Archaeological and Historical Survey on the Interaction of Jews and Non-Jews in the Roman Diaspora," Dissertation, Duke University, 1993; Meyers, Eric M. and L. Michael White. "Jews and Christians in the Roman World," ARCHAEOLOGY 42 March-April 1989. 26-33). Jeffers is right in stressing that the Roman synagogues operated, more or less, independent of each other, being composed of sub-units within Judaism defined by culture, language, social status, occupations, etc. of the families which comprised each one. Virtually every aspect of Jewish community life was governed by the synagogues in Rome.?

This was true of the synagogues there in the late 50s, but the Jewish War building up in the late 60s, and culminating in the destruction of the Temple, changed the way Jews were viewed by many in the empire.

Now what I want to draw your attention to is this statement made by Jeffers: "In the first and second centuries, Christians met in small, essentially autonomous house congregations". If by "autonomous" he means that the early Roman church groups, like the synagogues, were somewhat independent of each other, then I have to agree. However, I fear there may be an implication that they were independent of the synagogue communities from which they sprang, and that, I must say, is far less likely. In other words, the historical evidence suggests a church-- at the VERY least during Paul's time and before-- which still operated as a subdivision of the Roman Jewish synagogue (loose but affiliated) hierarchy, with Christian Jews and gentiles meeting regularly for prayer and instruction with their larger Jewish congregations, then privately in homes for more specifically Christian teaching and the exercising of spiritual gifts. Etc.?

We must be careful not to read the present "great rift" between Judaism and Christianity back into the biblical text. In Israel this complete parting of the ways did not occur until after the Bar Kokhba rebellion of 132-134 A.D. Though one might expect a bolder distinction to have happened much earlier in primarily gentile environments like Rome, the evidence from legal documents, Jewish, Christian, and pagan sources, all indicate that followers of Jesus were regarded as a sect of Judaism until perhaps the time when Nero blamed Christians (a separate religion? or just a troublesome Jewish sect?) for the burning of Rome (64 A.D.-- Tacitus, Annals 15.44.2-8; Epictetus, 2.9.20-11; for elaboration see Davies, W.D., JEWISH AND PAULINE STUDIES. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984. 20, 135, 150-52). Probably later.

Also Jeffers wrote:

Each house church would have to decide whether to meet in absolute secrecy or to declare itself a voluntary association.<<

Rest assured, it would not have been a comfortable option for the early churches to declare autonomy from the legal umbrella of the synagogues and to have emerged in any sense a "voluntary association" since they would potentially lose all the exemptions granted Jews due to their antiquity and earlier loyalty to Caesar. And after their war with Rome the Jews' special status came under even closer scrutiny-- but remained. Without an established legal covering the Christians would have been required to give up permission "to assemble, have common meals, own common property, share fiscal responsibilities, discipline members, and bury members" as well as "the right to interpret the laws and customs of their own community, exemption from military service, exemption from emperor worship and civic cults, the right to collect and distribute [money], and the right to form new [congregations] or home groups without seeking specific authorization to do so" (see above, Josephus, Ant. 12.3.3; 14.10.1-15; 16.1.3; 16.6.2; 19.6.3; Philo, Legatione Ad Gaium 23.155-58). You might expect them to have distanced themselves from the synagogues during and after the Jewish War (in Asia [modern Turkey], for instance, we know they did) but the evidence suggests the Roman Christians did not do this but rather sought to avoid unnecessary government persecution in these early years and maintained close ties with the local synagogues up until the third century A.D., burying Christian dead in shared catacombs, sharing hymnals and prayer books, and using technical language and idioms common to both communities (Rutgers, Leonard V. "Archaeological Evidence for the Interaction of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity," AMERICAN JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY 1992, 96:101-18.; Charlesworth, James H. "Exploring Opportunities for Rethinking Relations among Jews and Christians," JEWS AND CHRISTIANS: EXPLORING THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE. New York: Crossroads, 1990. 35-59). This all accords with the earliest Christian history which displays "the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5) and "the Way" (Acts 9:5; 24:10, 22) as a sect(s) within Judaism, and Paul as an avid attender of the Judean and diaspora synagogues (Acts chs. 13-18).

So, we can see the truth in what Jeffers said when he declared that the believers in Rome:

... also were influenced by that specialized religious association, the synagogue.<<

It behooves us as Christians to meditate on just how much they were influenced. And how much that ancient association with "our elder [Jewish] brother/sisters" should reflect upon the pattern(s) of church planting, polity, and liturgy we use today.

Michael


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Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 11:26:55 EDT From: DenverWH

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] re: first century church

Michael,

Excellent comments on the relationship between the early church (the sect of the Nazarenes) and Judaism. Many in this country (US) don't realize how thoroughly Jewish the early church really was. As you point out, this was true for at least the first 40 years.

"The First Jewish Revolt (66-73 A.D.) had been a decisive turning point in the relation of Judaism to Christianity. But the war of A.D. 132-135 (The Second Jewish Revolt) was, for all essential purposes, the final major national blow that severed the two communities." (This is from p. 81 in Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin Wilson. This might be a good beginning book for some on the list that haven't had the opportunity to explore the Jewish roots of the early church.)

Michael, I hope you will continue to add your valuable historical insights to our discussions.

John White

House Church Coach Denver, CO.


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Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 20:39:19 -0400 From: "Dan Beaty"

Subject: Re: [NT church planter] focus of the list/NT Church Foundations

Link,

You made some worthy points about the relevance of eschatology and other basic Christian doctrines. Personally I am fascinated by the various interpretations of Bible prophesy, and have some views myself that are probably more radical than most.

Over the years, however, I have seen little accomplished by trying to change others over to my view. Finally I am learning how to find common ground on many levels.

When I stopped focussing on our differences, I found one truth that excites us all about the reign of Christ -- He is OUR LORD AND REIGNING KING -- NOW!

As Paul, we preach Jesus Christ as Lord of all. And most importantly we acknowledge Him as the Lord and presently reigning King in our lives. We do not simply call Him "Lord, Lord," while not actually doing what He says.

Eschatology is important mainly as it pertains to our knowing and following His will for us, now, in our day and age. But when it becomes simply a point of debate or pride in our "being right," I feel that Satan in his subtlety has sidetracked us.

Let us make what He is saying to you and I right now our priority. And then let us become doers and not forgetful hearers only. It is my feeling that then we will be ready for whatever prophetic events are to come.

In the church that meets in our home, this has been our approach, as people from differing millennial views do gather with us. To my knowledge, these differences have not been cause for division among us. We discuss the differences in mostly private conversations, all the while knowing that none of us have all the answers.

Sorry for the length.

Dan Beaty Columbus, Ohio USA

www.livingtruth.com


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #17

 




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