New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


July 3, 2001 Vol 01 : 025
 
[New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: First-century meeting places

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Denmark Gatherings of Believers

[New Testament Church Proliferation] A comment about the Open Church concept (fwd from George P.)

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Defining "church" by identity (relationship) rather than activity (ministry)

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The use of funds in house churches

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Construction of church buildings (from George P)

[New Testament Church Proliferation] What a mighty God we serve!

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Constantine- home church whipping boy

 

Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 00:26:39 -0400 From: David Anderson

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: First-century meeting places

wrote Michael:

Jay Ferris tried to make a case for the superiority of house churches based on analogical use of the Scriptures bordering on the allegorical. I would reiterate, the central issue is not what we want, what we think is best, etc. The central issue is: does the New Testament allow for the construction of buildings for the purpose of worship? And I would have to say "yes". It is modeled in the early Church. Whether this has been taken to excess in today's ecclesiastical structure is another thing. I think it has. But we must allow for what the Scripture allows for if we are truly Bible-believing Christians. A radical polarizing on this issue will only cause needless division and further grieve the Lord and the people we are supposed to love.

--MICHAEL

Jerusalem

Hey Michael,

I see that you have given this matter much contemplation and I do admire your reverence for the scriptures. Also, these proceedings are already being archived on the web for others to consider at later dates. Think not that you write in vain, my brother. :-D

Now, I still cannot see how the ancient use of preexisting structures such as the Jewish temple or Jewish synagogues represent a warrant or even an allowance for the construction of Christian meeting places. I cannot find a single reason why Christ and his apostles would have encouraged such a thing. Certainly, there is no record that they did and your position essentially becomes an argument from silence, imo.

Nor would I base, in whole or in part, an argument upon some alleged finding which appeared in an archeological journal. Many keen scholars have written to the contrary concerning the habits of the saints in century one. Building or remodeling was not on their agenda. Besides, the early church was soon filled with outrageous teachings and practices. Some were being baptized for the dead, others did not even know that there was a holy spirit, etc.

The paradigm shift didn't happen at the death/resurrection of Christ since the post-Pentecost Judean Church, apart from meeting in homes, still met in synagogues (Act 22:19; 26:11) and visited the "old" Temple for prayer, vows, purification rituals, and sacrifices (Act 3:1; 21:-26). In special buildings. Nor did it happen any time current with the ministry of Paul who, in addition to meeting house to house, regularly attended synagogue (Act 17:1, 2) and willingly went to offer sacrifices in the "old" Temple (Act 21:26). Again special buildings.

Paul's intent was evangelistic, going where there were people who would listen. His motto was to become all things to all men that he might win some. Unless the Jews would be converted in these synagogues, his welcome would soon wear very thin. He possessed a superb Jewish background and could easily engage them, but not continually nor permanently.

My question: If buildings are not necessary and they are so expensive, why would they be desirable?

David Anderson

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Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 09:28:29 EDT From: Steffasong

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Denmark Gatherings of Believers

Hello Saints,

Do any of you know of any small groups of people or young churches that are? in Copenhagen? ?

If so, please let me know. I have an invitation to travel there this Fall, ? and I am interested in exploring every aspect of the trip before I make a? decision about going.

Thanks,

Stephanie


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Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 15:02:05 -0400 From: forwarded

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] A comment about the Open Church concept (fwd from George P.)

(The original post came from an alternate address. - ntchurch planter mail forwarder)

From: George Patterson <*westernseminary.edu> Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 11:56:55 -0700

Hi Link,

I know Jim Rutz who authored The Open Church and also appreciate his work. The larger churches that I know of that have tried to introduce his concepts into larger congregational meetings have had a hard time. The concept works well, however, from what I can see, with house churches and conscientious cell groups that earnestly try to be a small church within the larger one. Also, in my own experience, the 'one another' dynamics and sharing of gifts for mutual serving is, as far as I can see, just as important--if not more important--between house churches and viable cell groups as they are within them.

George Patterson

- -----Original Message----- From: Link Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 3:39 AM Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Missions networking

Several years ago I read _The Open Church_ which is about having church meetings where all participate and where regular believers can speak. The book really opened up my eyes. After reading it, I began to see other evidence in the Bible for mutually participatory meetings.

The book suggested a strategy to send regular believers to other countries to get jobs and help plant churches.

Later, I began to see on house church lists that there are lots of small house churches in the US that probably have little connection to missions fields. Denominations have missions programs. Some home church's might also have no outlet for missions funds.

I have some missions contacts here in Indonesia. I might be able to help if some 'regular Christians' wanted to come over here as English teachers or exporters.

Does anyone know people who want to serve on missions fields, planting home church's for example, or just helping spread the Gospel by living as a Christian in a foreign country?

There are probably some other people on this list who know of areas where home church people in the US and elsewhere could go to do some missions work.

Link


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Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2001 15:47:34 -0400 From: "Samuel M. Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Defining "church" by identity (relationship) rather than activity (ministry)

My city is actually two cities that are separated by name, and the other side of the street. Both communities are geographically and regionally (politically) connected. Many work in the other city, just as many live in the other and work in another city. Regionally many similar things are happening in both locales. But both have resisted a merger fearing domination by the other and loss of identity. I think what is happening in the _natural_ within these cities, for truly they are one, is a reflection of what is happening in the _spirit realm_.

In many cities, the church is as divided as the city in which I live. We proclaim to be one church, but truly we are not. Each church pays lip service to unity, and then refuse to cooperate with other expressions of the body because they do not have the same _God franchise_ as they do!

As I sought the Lord for my city, He extended a love for the twin city that was just as much a part of my life than the one I actually live in and work. I have many friends in the other city, and in fact, the geographical location of the house church I give leadership to meets in that city. I believe that if we truly want to see church planting take root, we need to root ourselves into God and His plans and purposes for us as well as the soil of where God has placed us geographically.

I am an Ulsterman by birth, that is I was born in a Protestant home in Belfast, Northern Ireland. My parents were missionaries to France for twelve years. I grew up in a home that made no mention of my Northern Irish identity or roots. I grew up thinking I was French, until I was almost ten years old. I did not know why people who claimed to be my relatives spoke English with a funny accent and did not understand me. I thought they were the ones with the problem, not me! My parents deliberately did not promote the British culture in our home or the English language. They only spoke English once in a while away from my listening ears (I could not understand them anyway!). It was only when we came to Canada as missionaries/church planters that my father told me that I was not French but British! It literally took me 25 years to recover from that. I had acclimatized myself and identified myself as being _French_, and all of a sudden it was not real. I was not French at all.

What my parents did for me, was to enable me to function in the culture in which I lived so that I would be accepted and would be able to relate to these same people. There intention was always to remain in France, and I would not have known the difference until adulthood.

Now looking back I understand the _whys_ a lot better than when I was ten years old, and I understand them on a spiritual level as well. I am simply saying that as church planters we need to invest into the place where God has placed us. We need to become like the people whom we are trying to reach. Culturally today I am as Canadian as a native born son would be. Unless I tell you otherwise you would think I was born here. Today I am a dual citizen. I hold a British passport and am a naturalized Canadian. I even served 8 years in the Canadian Armed Forces (Infantry). I love this country that I live in. It is a part of me, and I am a part of it. My wife is a third generation Canadian of Northern Irish descent and my children were born here. Our identity is Canadian. The people God has placed me into relationship with are Canadian. The community has accepted me as a Canadian.

The church in the city means we need to accept one another as being the _church_ regardless of what the name is on the shingle. When people ask of me who I fellowship with, I simply reply, "I am part of the Body of Christ in the church in the city of Kitchener Waterloo." Often, they retort, "Yes, I know that, but where do you fellowship?" I usually respond with, "Wherever the Lord tells me to fellowship. And I usually fellowship in several places throughout the city and support a variety of ministries that the Body of Christ is involved with in the city." It confuses them even more!

Our unity in the city is not based on doctrine. It is based on relationship. Just as the Lord Jesus and the Father are one in relationship, so is each individual believer one with the Father in relationship. If all believers are one with the Father in relationship, then that means that the corporate expression of all believers in the city are one with the Father just as Jesus is one with the Father. When we view unity in this way, then a Charismatic like myself can freely fellowship with a Baptist and the two of us together with Christ, we are _church_, in name, function and unity! When this takes hold in a city it transforms the city.

When unity comes to the city based on relationship, then the hands of the power brokers within the various expressions of body life (congregations) will begin to extend their facilities and resources to others who are lacking these things and need them for certain events and functions. When we start to honour and prefer one another from a relational mindset, then the Spirit of God begins to do mighty things in our midst.

We recently held a house church conference in our city. I approached a fairly large church community that had a wonderful facility about using their building. After speaking with the senior pastor and sharing our heart and vision for the city ( a vision to see 250 house churches, one on each street in the city planted in the next few years), he was shocked but sensed the Spirit of God in what we shared. The pastor had a vision for the city as well as we did, and he also had a need of revitalizing his small groups ministry. It dawned on him that his own people would benefit from the dynamics that are present in house churches such as intimacy and personal ministry. He looked me in the eye and said, "I believe the Lord wants us to cooperate together. You put together your conference and you can have the building. Tell me what you need and it is yours." That was it! It all happened because of relational unity. Our respective views of what church looks like, the use of buildings, the debates on tithing, were not what jelled our hearts together. It was the oneness we had with the Father that brought us together.

The fruit of that meeting was that Robert Fitts, who has traveled extensively the last 12 years doing conferences and seminars and planting house churches came to our city for a six day session of meetings. It was the FIRST time ever that he spoke in a traditional church without getting kicked out for speaking on house church! Here he came and spoke on the city church, and about the Body of Christ working together to see the Kingdom come into the city, and all churches cooperating together as one church in the city. Out of this meeting many people received ministry, and relationships were begun between already established house churches and other new ones that have begun in our city, as well as connecting with existing traditional churches to cooperate on city wide initiatives. Some of our house church people are helping form intercession networks, counseling networks, mercy ministries initiatives, with other fellowships in the city.

This is the end result of identifying ourselves as who we are in Christ, and identifying with the city in which we live. When we do this on the foundation of relationship (relational identity) then the _activity_ and _functions of ministry_ will be the natural result of people gathering together. But the foundation is relationship, and biblical unity, and then the activity follows suit. If unity is based on the activities to reach a city, then as soon as the activities are over, so is the unity. We need biblical unity, and an ongoing covering of prayer, for only then, will the strongholds be taken down over our cities and then the Lord will scatter the enemy and release us to plunder the enemy camp and rescue the prodigals, the lost, the wounded, the poor and the needy.

Blessings,

Sam


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Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2001 16:01:05 -0400 From: "Samuel M. Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The use of funds in house churches

In our house church we have an offering basket on the refreshments table. People make occasional financial gifts to the house church as the Lord leads them.

When there are particular needs in the house church, we take offerings, collect groceries and meet the need. Recently a chap that we once knew in the local Vineyard church where I had been on staff, came back to town. He had little money, and he came back to the Vineyard, but also comes to the house church. We helped him find an apartment and furniture. He comes to the house church early so he can do his laundry. He was given groceries and was able to find a job. We embraced him, for we embrace the whole body in the city.

As a house church we have supported local ministries in the city, including the food bank, counseling Centre, home for unmarried mothers, and other ministries. There are even secular social programs that people tap into.

We make financial donations as the Lord leads us in our house church.

Missions wise, there are several local and international ministries we support on a regular basis. Most of these are faith missions based. Some of our people support Robert Fitts regularly as a missions project.

My parents were on the mission field for 12 years in France and lived on whatever was placed in an offering box a the back of their local church in Belfast. We never went without what we needed. Mind you, my Mum has about 115 recipes for rice!

All in all house churches can support foreign missions, and can even send their own faith missionary on the field. There have been local house churches that have supported people who have gone with YWAM. It can be done. The so call _para-church_ ministries can be the best means by which house churches can support foreign and national ministries, especially if the house churches have a larger concept and view of the body of Christ to include all believers and all ministries as one church.

Blessings,

Sam


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Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 17:42:53 -0400 From: forwarded

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Construction of church buildings (from George P)

From: George Patterson

Hi David,

I appreciate your interest in the subject of buildings in the New Testament. I mentor both conventional and house church people and want to be accurate. My question: Is there any mention in the New Testament of a building constructed specifically for Christian worship (the temple and synagogues were not).

George Patterson

- -----Original Message----- From: David Anderson Date: Sunday, July 01, 2001 9:26 PM Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: First-century meeting places

wrote Michael:

Jay Ferris tried to make a case for the superiority of house churches based on analogical use of the Scriptures bordering on the allegorical. I would reiterate, the central issue is not what we want, what we think is best, etc. The central issue is: does the New Testament allow for the construction of buildings for the purpose of worship? And I would have to say "yes". It is modeled in the early Church. Whether this has been taken to excess in today's ecclesiastical structure is another thing. I think it has. But we must allow for what the Scripture allows for if we are truly Bible-believing Christians. A radical polarizing on this issue will only cause needless division and further grieve the Lord and the people we are supposed to love.

--MICHAEL

Jerusalem

Hey Michael,

I see that you have given this matter much contemplation and I do admire your reverence for the scriptures. Also, these proceedings are already being archived on the web for others to consider at later dates. Think not that you write in vain, my brother. :-D

snipped


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Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 22:27:00 -0400 From: David Anderson

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] What a mighty God we serve!

Hey there all ye Kingdom sons and daughters,

What a mighty God we serve! What a mighty God we serve! Greater than any approach. Greater than any plan. Willing to employ all if we will enlist and submit. Willing to forgive our short-comings and foolish devises.

Twould do us good now and then to halt and lay aside the details and our beloved ideas of "da way it oughtta be" and realize the God has mightily used many whose methods and beliefs are/were quite different than ours.

John Wesley, an Arminian, and George Whitfield, a Calvinist, worked together for a while, then painfully parted company. I guess these two guys knew something about churches coming into existence where none previously existed. It kinda happened everywhere they went.

"Do you think you'll see Wesley in heaven?" Whitfield was later asked.

"No, I think not. <long, long pause> He'll be so much closer to the throne of grace than I that I doubt that I will see him there..."

in Jesus Christ, David Anderson


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Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 17:31:34 +0700 From: "Link"

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Constantine- home church whipping boy

Many of us look back to the Bible when we look for a model of what a church should be like. We see a difference between what happened in the first century and what later evolved.

One view that seems to be common in home church circles is that the changes in the church were the result of Constantine mixing church and state.

For example, some think that Constantine invented the church building. Constantine started a building program, building some meeting houses for Christians based on the model of Roman civic buildings. This is true. Up to that point, many if not most Christians were probably still meeting in homes.

But Constantine did not invent the church building. Decades before Constantine, Gregory the Illuminator and the king of Armenia built a church building. I think they may have even converted pagan temples into church buildings. Michael Millier mentioned a reference to a 2nd century, I think it was, church building. Constantine did not invent the church building.

Was church liturgy invented in Constantine's day? Did pagans rushing into the church bring with them pagan liturgy? Church liturgy was not invented in Constantine's day. Gregory had already adapted previously existing church liturgies to be used in Armenia before Constantine built church buildings.

Many scholars write that church liturgy grew out of synagogue liturgy. There are many similarities. Synagogue liturgy developed to some extent from temple liturgy. The Bible doesn't command us to have synagogue liturgy in church. (Some argue that in Acts 13, 'ministering to the Lord' refers to doing the liturgy, though.)

The instructions Paul gave in I Corinthians 14 would probably not fit into a typical Jewish synagogue meeting. The Lord's Supper wouldn't either. But Paul did tell churches to read his epistles, and told Timothy to give himself to 'reading' along with teaching and exhortation. Since many of those reading his epistles would have been Jews, proselytes, and God-fearing Gentiles who had been in the synagogue before hearing the Gospel, they may have been used to hearing scriptures read in a liturgical manner. It shouldn't be too surprising that they would pick up some customs from the synagogue, especially, as some argue, that there continued to be a relationship between the synagogue and the church for quite some time.

There may have been some major shifts in church life and structure in Constantine's day. But Constantine did not invent either the church building or formal church liturgy.

Link Hudson


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #25

 




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