New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


July 4, 2001 Vol 01 : 026

 

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

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] What a mighty Gad we serve!

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Constantine- House Church whipping boy

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Constantine- House Church whipping boy

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Sending tent-makers

 

Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2001 07:07:32 -0700 From: jferris

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

Dear George,

I want to note once again, that it is not the Scriptures that are allegory, but the old creation. Reality is found in Christ.

SANCTIFIED TO BE ONE

John 12:23,24: "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. "

John 17:1, 5, 22, 23: "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:... And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was... And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. "

John 17, 21: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth... That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Hebrews 4:12, 13: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Hebrews 5:14 "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

Jesus prayed about a certain kind of Glory, that we might be sanctified to the end that we could be included in the oneness that existed in the Godhead before the world began.

This to say that the object of Jesus prayer as well as God's creation, is an intimacy known only to God. This is an intimacy that is so great that flesh and blood cannot go there. In other words, the old man cannot go there. Only the new man can go there, only the life giving Spirit released out of the last man Adam can go there. He wants, and prayed to go there in us, and He wants to take us there in Him. Jesus in the flesh went away in order to make a way into the place that is ours in the Father's heart, and house from before the world began.

Having gone away to do that, His prayer indicates that this is a place that we can go, in deed ought to go, in this present age, "...that the world may know..."

But first something needs to happen in us. There needs to be a faith appropriation of the content of the cross. We need to know what happened there. To know this, however, we need to put the information into practice so that be constant use, we might be able to distinguish good from evil.

This kind of truth, the truth that sanctifies, is born of a Word, that is living and active, not one that is dead and dormant. A living and active word is a Sword of the Spirit, it does not operate, nor is it effective, independent of The Spirit.

To be subject to a sword, capable of dividing soul from Spirit is not the kind of thing that one volunteers for. There needs to be a good reason for enduring that kind of treatment. There needs to be Joy set before the victim of such harsh treatment.

In our case, that joy is, at least two-fold. First a complete frustration concerning who we are in the first Adam. Our heavenly Father has facilitated this frustration for us in that He has made the entire old creation subject to frustration.

Second, we need to know where our Father wants to take us in a New Creation, a place where we can only go in His Son.

God wants to take us to a place which is the desire of every human heart. It's part of the eternity package which He has placed in the heart of every man. Unless we have a personal revelation of that place which can only come from Him, we will not subject ourselves to the sanctifying work of the Sword of The Spirit, The Word of God. We need to have both a frustration, and a hunger and thirst, a certain panting after God.

That place is a spiritual place, not a physical or geographical place, although it is subject to certain geographical constraints. It is a place which makes us one where we are. Unbelievers know where they live. What they haven't discovered yet is that, where they live is an allegory or shadow, because the real place to live is in Christ. You really can't blame dead people for being confused. It looks like we're the ones with a problem. Someone said, "The Word of God is so clear you have to have help to misunderstand it." We've given them a lot of help.

We really don't need to be rocket scientists to discover how God does life, if you ask a four year old who they belong to they can tell you with no hesitation. Its us disconnected experts who have a problem. For openers, I think we need to repent of the work of our own hands."

Jay

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

Michael wrote :

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: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 08:18:37 EDT From: Steffasong

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

In a message dated 07/02/2001 10:28:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time,? homechurch writes:

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. ? ?

Thanks for the reminder David! ?

Your words brought to mind those of our brother Paul, when he told the? church, (was it in Philippi?)

Rejoice, and again I say rejoice! It is not wearisome for me to remind you? of these things again ....

We so need to be encouraged and exhorted so that the Lord have His way in us.? The whole world and its ugly, self-oriented mindset beckons at our heart's? doors every single day.

Thank you, Steph

Stephanie Bennett Creative Services & Consulting <A HREF?"http://members.aol.com/steffasong/index.html">Marketing Solutions for the 21st Century</A>?

???If your efforts are sometimes greeted with indifference, don't lose heart. The sun puts on a wonderful show at daybreak, yet most of the people in the? audience go on sleeping.???--Ada Teixeira? ?


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Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 08:25:22 -0400 From: "Dan Beaty"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Constantine- House Church whipping boy

Link,

You wrote:

<<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.

Many historians acknowledge the gradual move towards organized Christianity, that made the acceptance of Constantine's changes easier for the church of his day.

False teachers did arise as Christ and the apostles foretold, and the response we see in the writings of the Catholic Fathers even before Constantine. Ignatius, for example insisted that more power be given to the single Bishop, which was a step that over time led to the Papacy.

After having come through the most severe Roman persecution of its history, it is easy to see how Constantine's endorsement could be seen by the believers of his day as the Hand of God.

Of course, where we see the move towards institutionalism as a sign of decline, others see the church maturing right up to Constantine's time.

On the issue of buildings, sometimes we can take it too far. The point I see is that for the first 3 hundred years, the church did not place near the importance of having a dedicated "Church Building" as we do today. In fact, church growth is often measured in America by the size of the building in which a congregation meets.

Dan Beaty Columbus, Ohio USA

http://www.livingtruth.com


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Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 09:30:54 EDT From: DenverWH

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Constantine- House Church whipping boy

I very much agree with Link that the movement away from NT church values? began long before Constantine. The following quotes are from a book that? I've mentioned before ("Conflict at Rome" by Jeffers) and address the issue? of top down authority. While Constantine certainly deserves to be "whipped"? (figuratively, of course), by his day, the church had been infected with? Roman governmental values for over two hundred years. The Emperor's actions? represent the culmination of a process, not the beginning.

John White Denver

"During the last decade of the first century, a Roman Christian named Clement? (perhaps the one mentioned in Phil. 4:3) wrote a lengthy letter? (traditionally called 1 Clement) to fellow Christians in the city of Corinth.

In the context of the house churches in Rome, Clement was an unusual man? leading an unusual house church. He was unusual because he was well educated? ("Those who could write, such as Clement, must have been very unusual, even? in the late first century." p. 32) and because he was connected to the? imperial household. In fact Jeffers builds the case that Clement was the? leader of a house church meeting at the Catacomb of Flavius Clemens and? Flavia Domitilla, a couple who were very close to the Emperor himself. ? (Domitilla may well have been a Christian herself. At the very least, she? was supportive of the Christians in her household.) There seems to have been? a warehouse close to the Catacomb that would have been "large enough to house? a large congregation, and it would have provided a natural site for a? clandestine Christian house church organized as a household or funeral? association." p. 88.

Jeffers concludes that "in view of the evidence, it is probable that? Clement's house church represented a small group of Christians who has? benefited from the Roman system, unlike the majority of their poorer? brothers. They were, in effect, a social elite among the congregations of? Rome and had greater wealth, more education, and more hope for a comfortable? life on earth." p. 89

"Clement and his congregation came to accept social distinctions among? themselves as a basis for ordering their relationships. That is, through the? influence of Roman ideology, they came to accept hierarchy as natural to? Christianity. In contrast, Hermas (author of "The Shepherd of Hermas")? accepts the need for interdependency, but he does not base the value of a? Christian on his social identity." P. 131

"The way in which 1 Clement is affected by Roman ideology suggests that the? Christians behind it were not representative of even a majority of Christians? in Rome. Rather, it represents the beliefs of a small group of Christians? who enjoyed far more material wealth and worldly hope than most Christians,? and so found their religion in harmony with their society." P. 141

"Clement treated his congregation as a single household based on this model:? church leaders, like the paterfamilias deserved unquestioning honor and? obedience, and followers must know and remain in their proper places in the? hierarchy." P. 142

"???Clement and his group began a process of recasting the (Christian)? traditions they had received in the mold of Roman ideology. This process? would continue and ultimately dominate the church in Rome, despite the fact? that it originated within a small segment of Roman Christians." P. 143

By the mid second century, the influence of Roman governmental values was? increasing. A passage from Justin (c. 155 AD) "suggests that the Eucharist? in the second century was already becoming a method of imposing uniformity on? the Roman congregations. The leader of the congregations gives the elements? a special blessing, and only those who accept the orthodox Roman teachings? may partake. This practice finds a precursor in Clement's comparison of? practice in the church to the cultic practices of Israel presided over by the? high priest (1 Clement 40-41)." P. 190

In 189 AD Victor became the bishop of Rome. "La Piana sees the selection of? Victor as one of the most important events in the early Roman church,? signaling a Latinization of the church. Victor, with his strong belief in? the right to impose organizational unity by force, was the ideal choice of a? Roman Christian elite which, since the time of Clement, had interpreted? Christianity in light of Roman ideology???Victor felt compelled to resolve the? Paschal controversy and eliminate the division in practice that his? predecessor (Anicetus) had condoned some fifty years earlier???When the? churches of Asia Minor refused to comply with his demand, he resisted the? counsel of Irenaeus and excommunicated them???Victor's actions, though far? different from those of Anicetus, are in concert with 1 Clement's ideology of? leadership???Bishop Victor's actions represent a simple evolution from the? ideology expressed in 1 Clement." P. 192-193

First Clement represents a turning point in the life of the Roman churches.?? In it, the social elite among the Roman Christians enunciated for the first? time their policies for restructuring the church's identity and? relationships???The smaller group behind 1 Clement did not immediately impose? its views on all other Roman congregations???But the thinking in 1 Clement? eventually did become the thinking of the Roman church???By the late second? century, mono-episcopacy (which is anticipated, though not mentioned, in 1? Clement) was established in Rome. Apostolic succession and hierarchical? government, separation of church membership into clergy and laity, property? ownership, and emulation of Roman models, all advocated or anticipated in 1? Clement, were becoming the norm for the Roman church???Clement's group, long? after its leader's death, finally succeeded in displacing the thinking of? Christians like Hermas and in molding the identity of the entire Roman church? and, by extension, all of Christianity." P. 199.


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Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2001 18:34:23 +0700 From: "Link"

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Sending tent-makers

One way to do tent-making church planting work in many countries is to go as an English teacher. Christians who want to teach English abroad who aren't church planter'ers can also go and be salt and light and use whatever gifts they have.

Imagine applying to get a visa from China with 'missionary' written on it. Fat chance. But they are longing for English teachers to come over and teach at their universities. I'm not sure of the up-to-date specifics, but from my experience, a lot of Asian countries require that you have a a bachelors degree and be a native speaker and you can work as an English teacher.

I know there are a number of House Church people on here. Some House Church's may not be very well networked with the mission field. Maybe a program for sending English teachers abroad could give House Church people a means for sending out tent-making missionaries abroad.

One evangelist sending English teachers to China told about English teachers sharing the Gospel with their students, baptizing them in the bathtub, and discipling them, and even teaching classes out of the English Bible.

Even if a Christian who goes over isn't an evangelist or an apostle, just a good solid brother or sister in the faith could be a great help. He/she could serve as a support for another foreign church planter there, or a local one. Some Chinese Christians don't get much of a chance to read scripture since Bible are hard to come by there. An English-speaking teacher in America could disciple a few English speaking Chinese or just teach them some basic Bible doctrine, and by doing so could effect a lot of others whose lives are effected by the students.

I know a couple that taught in China. He said a lot of the students had heard some bizaar teachings. One student was asking him about speaking in tongues. She had heard that you had to see a vision when you spoke in tongues.

Christians in the 'free world' who grow up in church don't know how good we have it. Just from growing up in a conventional church, you can pick up a lot of basic knowledge that you take for granted. A Chinese Christian without a Bible may consider on little drop of doctrinal knowledge that you learned in a church meeting to be a precious treasure. Many on this list are House Church Christians. Experience operating in a House Church would be very valuable in relating to Christians in China, Vietnam, or Cambodia. An House Church Church Planter might not have to complete rethink his whole paradigm of church after arriving on the mission field.

The evangelist involved in sending teachers over said that some Christians were having church in karioke rooms. Other people go there to sing, so if Christians get loud singing songs in one of these rooms, others think it is normal. They don't have as much fear of persecution. I don't know if this is still common, but it's an idea if you go there and want to work.

China is not the only place where Christians can work as English teachers. Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and many other countries we have thought of as 'closed' to the Gospel are looking for English teachers. In some of these places you have to be careful. In some of these countries, English teachers are so in demand because the salaries offered in these countries are low by western standards. In China, I hear a native speaker English teacher (with BA, I think) can work at a university for about $400 a month. That's a huge salary by Chinese standards. Some of these teachers also get a special foreign consultant apartment which has basic necessities by western standards, and is better than what a local person would live in.

Other countries in Asia pay better. Japan, S. Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and even here in Indonesia, a teacher can find a job that pays fairly well, considering the cost of living. There are great needs in these for evangelism in these countries as well.

So, why am I bringing this up on this newsgroup? What can we do about this?

Here is what I am thinking.

1. We can find people in our network of contacts (people in our House Church or IC, church planterer's, etc) who are interested in doing missions work or just being a helper to others leading the work.

2. We don't have to reinvent the wheel.

We could send teachers through existing ministries.

An unspecified organization sends Christian teachers abroad. But the teachers they send are under some strict guidelines restricting what ministry they can do. If I recall correctly, they agree not to attend Chinese House Church's. I can understand the concern. (An unnmamed group) wants to keep up their ministry. They also don't want to endanger the people in the House Church's by sending a foreigner who really stands out like a sore thumb. Any westerner who goes abroad should use discretion.

Bob Weiner's ministry was also sending teachers abroad. He was the one talking about baptizing Chinese students in the bathtub. I assume his organization doesn't restrict freedom to minister much if at all. There may be other ministries as well.

3. We can network English teachers with existing laborers in the country, whether foreign or local.

I knew some people who worked with an international student ministry. One of their concerns was that Chinese students that they reached might not be able to find underground church contacts to network with. They might be assumed to be Commie spies after the Commie government sent them abroad to be educated.

If a teacher goes abroad, it would be great for him to have a Christian contact when he gets there who speaks English (unless he speaks the local language.) It can be lonely in a foreign country. We might even consider trying to place teachers near contacts that we know, or sending two teachers to the same geographical area if they are planning on doing church planter. Jesus sent people out by 2's to preach, and from what we see in the NT, Paul as in the habit of taking at least one other person along with him.

4. We could compile a list of training centers and free Christian programs for training English teachers to send abroad. Being thrown into a classroom to teach when you don't know what your doing isn't fun. (Trust me. I've been there. :)

The SBC has a training program for English teachers that's really good and is very short. There may be others. There are also one month courses you can take to learn English.

5. We can financially support teachers that need it.

If a Chinese school pays for airfare, a single person who has few financial obligations may be able to live in China without financial worries. People with families and financial burdens may not be able to. If a brother wants to go work in China and labor for the Lord as a tent-maker, fellow brethren in the church can send him financial support.

6. Prayer support.

This discussion group has about 80 people who are probably all interested in the work of the Lord. We can also relay prayer requests to our churches.

7. Language instruction-

We could refer people going abroad to other believers in their home country for language instruction before leaving, or put together a list of foreign language schools so they could find one near their house. Another great resource would be an international ministry on a college campus.

- - Who could go abroad to do this type of ministry?

One obvious type of person who could do this would be a new college graduate. They aren't tied down to a long-term job commitment yet. Usually new college graduates are single. A spiritually mature college graduate could be a great support to a fellow countryman doing church planting work. It's great to have someone from your own country around if you live in a foreign country. It takes a long time to get used to live in a country surrounded completely by people of a foreign culture. (I'm getting used to it. I don't see westerners too much during the week these days. Most of my contact is with Indonesians--my coworkers in the office, my wife, and her family.) The teacher will almost certainly feel a need to meet with people from his home country when he first gets there.

- -

What can we do?

I've made some inquiries to try to track down sources for sending teachers to China. (An unspecified organization) is a possibility, but it's probably not appropriate for church planter'ers. I've emailed Bob Weiner's ministry and put out a few other inquiries.

Maybe we can put together a FAQ on teaching English abroad as a tent-making strategy, complete with the general vision, contacts of ministries that place teachers, contacts for language training, teacher training, and campus international ministry addresses. We could include some email addresses of people to ask about finding contacts in China. We shouldn't put the contacts names in the FAQ of course. If a lot of people start going abroad, we can branch out into other countries besides China. If someone does go abroad, we can update this discussion list so that others can pray.

The FAQ should contain enough information so that someone on this list could print it out and use the information as a source to give a presentation to his or her church about teaching English abroad as a tent-making ministry.

Does anyone on this list see an area where they would be able contribute to if this FAQ starts to come together? Does anyone know of Christian contacts in China or closed countries?

Does anyone know of a ministry already doing exactly what I am talking about?

Any comments on this idea?

Link Hudson


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #26

 




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