New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


July 16, 2001 Vol 01 : 034
 
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

[New Testament Church Proliferation] re: The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Personal Evangelism - a call for help!

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] re: The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

 

Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 23:09:14 -0400 From: The Dwelling Place

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

Actually John, if you took the time to simply read Gene Edwards, you will find that he is seminary trained (though he doesn't think much of it, as it does very little to prepare anyone for the ministry [his opinion of seminary education]). He has bachelor's degree, and he has a Masters degree from a Baptist seminary. He is very theological. He is missiological, as he has planted churches. By the way, how do you qualify to be "missiological" or "theological", is it by education? Last time I checked the word of God, every believer is both missiological and theological, and it has nothing to do with qualifications or education. It is part and parcel of being a believer in Christ Jesus. It goes with the territory.

And if we are going to get "biblical" all of a sudden, then lets drop this "Great Commission" stuff, OK? It doesn't exist! The "Great Commission" axiom is a nice cozy way of getting everybody rallying around a vision to reach the world with the Gospel. Then let's just call it that and drop the "Great Commission" thing. It isn't there. It shouldn't even be part of our vocabulary. The "Great Commission" was in fact a prophetic utterance to the original disciples that they would in their own lifetime go out to the known world and proclaim the gospel and make disciples. And they fulfilled it in their own lifetime.

In this same vein then, there are very theological people, who believe that the "mandate" was prophetic only for the intended audience, the disciples, and not you and I. So, if we are being theological, then let's get to the core issue here. I happen to believe what you call the "Great Commission" has already been fulfilled, and at its culmination, the Lord returned in judgment as He prophesied He would in Matt. 24-25 and destroyed the Temple system through the Romans in AD 70. The so called "Great Commission" was to evangelize the Jews throughout the Roman empire. At its end, the New Covenant was fully established and has progressed through the earth until today, and we continue to extend the Kingdom of God in the earth as we evangelize and plant churches wherever the Holy Spirit leads us and opens the doors.

Sam

The issue is not quite that simple. I like Gene Edwards writings but I don't think he is a missiologist or a theologian.

The Great Commission does not tell us to "go and plant churches in every city", but to "...make disciples among every nation, ethnos, language and people group". We are even told how to do this: "by teaching them to obey Jesus' commands (the last of which, was to "Go and make disciples from among every ethnic, linguistic and national group.")

Planting churches in major port cities, the way Paul did, was a strategic way of accomplishing that goal. Planting churches (small c) is not an end in itself any more than evangelism is (evangelism is just one of the steps in the same way that planting local churches is just a step). None of those churches Paul planted exist today, but the "Church" does.

The visible product of obedience to the Great Commission will result in groups of assembled disciples called churches. These groups or assemblies are the best way to make disciples. It's the way Jesus did it and the way the apostles did it. But these groups or assemblies are not the "END". The ONE CHURCH, the BRIDE of Christ from every ethnic, linguistic, national and tribal group (whether or not from every city), is the END.

City churches are strategic towards this end because major cities are melting pots and crossroads for these groups.

John F. Cooke


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From: "Sam Buick" Reply-To: New Testament Church Proliferation Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2001 13:15:20 -0400 To: New Testament Church Proliferation

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

Hi: I would like to share the following which is a quote that is changing everything I have been taught about evangelism and church planting.

Please read this carefully from the pen of Gene Edwards (The Divine Romance, The Prisoner in the Third Cell, A Tale of Three Kings, etc.).

"For those of you who are obsessed with the evangelizing of the world in our generation, please note that Paul raised up four churches in Galatia and considered the entire province of Galatia evangelized! It was the planting of an ekklesia, NOT numbers of people saved, that was the measuring stick of evangelizing. (By "ekklesia" we mean the community of the believers, NOT a people meeting in something that looks suspiciously like a civic auditorium with weekly lectures delivered to a roomful of people, strangers to one another.)

Ours is strange thinking when compared to Paul's! Paul's thought centered on establishing the ekklesia, NOT on soul winning. Note, too, this important fact: Paul evangelized in order to raise up churches. He did not raise up the church in order to evangelize.

The final end of evangelism is to raise up the ekklesia in a city! Evangelism has no great purpose beyond establishing and growing of a local ekklesia in a specific city. Evangelism was never an end. Evangelism served the ekklesia. (May we one day get that very spirited horse back in his corral where he belongs.) Evangelism is a tool for church planting and church growth. It has no reason to exist in and of itself. Outside its use to plant a specific ekklesia in a specific town and to grow that specific church, evangelism should NOT exist!*

Paul considered a province evangelized and his main task over as far as evangelism was concerned. Evangelism rested with those meetings in homes. The total membership of those four churches in Galatia probably was less than 200, total. What a value system. What a contradiction to our concept.

Two hundred people gathering, in an entire province, and Paul considered that province "evangelized." Sure! The ekklesia-living, breathing and virile - - was present!! One of these two concepts of evangelism - Paul's or ours - needs to be abandoned!

The planting of the ekklesia, by church planters, is waiting in the wings, waiting to be - in our day - center stage once more!

* Certainly if you are sitting in an airplane and the man sitting next to you is interested in knowing Jesus Christ, then, unquestionably, witnessing is proper, and winning him to Christ is the only correct thing to do. But the idea of welding together a force of people to witness, the sole end and purpose being only to save them from hell, and not thought of birthing a local "community of believers," has absolutely no precedent in Scripture and falls outside the mind of early believers. To be a Christian and to belong to the community of believers was one separable thought. Evangelism just to save would have been unthinkable by members of a local ekklesia."

Taken from "How to Meet in Homes" by Gene Edwards, pp. 75-76. Read again a few times. It has really impacted me.

Sammy


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Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 04:32:02 -0400 From: David Anderson

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] re: The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

Sam wrote:

Personal Evangelism should not be considered an activity but rather the fruit of our intimate relationship with the Lord.

Why one or the other, my brother? It is certainly both. Everything we do should be done out of an intimate relationship with the Lord. There is no tension whatsoever between evangelism and what you call "church planting." Evangelism is just telling another thirsty person where the Water is. Why are we even comparing it to church planting or to anything? The concept stands on its own. It is the natural tendency of every true believer just as meeting with other believers is. "We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." "Whoso is born of God loveth the (company of the) brethren."

Persons were referred to as evangelists and you say that evangelism should not be considered an activity? We see evangelism in the early church through principle and practice. By the way, that's the name of a truly excellent book on the subject: "Evangelism in the Early Church" by Michael Green.

But NOWHERE, in fact, was anyone COMMANDED TO PLANT CHURCHES nor is it recorded that anyone ever did. CHURCHES exist AS THE CONVERTED OR EVANGELIZED ones MEET from day one. NOWHERE IS ANY individual CHURCH SAID TO HAVE BEEN "PLANTED, birthed, founded, started, organized, "raised up" etc." Nor is there a record of any "core group" waiting to become a church or waiting for a "church planter" to arrive. These facts should command our attention. WHAT WAS figuratively PLANTED WAS THE GOSPEL SEED ACCORDING TO JESUS (parable of the sower, for example). Gene Edwards of "Seed Sowers Publishing" should realize that. :D Furthermore, no person in Scripture is identified as a "church planter."

I know, I know, it's so simple we had to complicate it somehow.... :)

Me, I use those misleading phrases simply because of what others mean by them, which for the most part are good and necessary things. Of course, we all want to see churches exist where they did not previously exist and, of course, we want to see outside help come in if it is available. But this will occur only AFTER persons respond to the "preaching of the Word."

If we properly understood the meaning of the word "preach" which simply means to "proclaim the Gospel" we would see that such evangelistic activity was practically UNIVERSAL in century one. We think that preaching was what went on ~in~ the churches. Actually, this word (several) consistently applies to what went on ~outside~ of the churches. Some specialized in it as a life work but not all.

Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

Imagine...thousands and thousands of converted, spirit filled Jews, eagerly leaving Pentecost with the one previously missing PIECE. It is quite unfathomable that they would have had to wait for years for one of a few, slow moving "real church planters" to arrive to "plant" something. Gentiles, on the other hand, had no body of knowledge from the Old Testament and would have required much more teaching to be brought up to speed.

Preaching and teaching were the driving forces in the apostles' lives. If it were not so, they would have surely mentioned it and said things like: Whoa is me if I plant not churches. The ministry of Jesus is also described by "preaching and teaching."

Sam, you also quoted something several days ago:

Ours is strange thinking when compared to Paul's! Paul's thought centered on establishing the ekklesia, NOT on soul winning."

Again, why, why not both? Where is a single verse of scripture to substantiate these words?

Would you please reconcile your assertion in view of a couple of Paul's summary statements about his work: Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, 1 Cor. 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save (win) some.

Look at the commissions of Peter and Paul. Gal. 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them THAT GOSPEL WHICH I PREACH among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. Gal. 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that THE GOSPEL of the uncircumcision WAS COMMITTED UNTO ME, as THE GOSPEL of the circumcision WAS UNTO PETER.

2 Cor. 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, WE PERSUADE MEN; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, PERSUADING THEM concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

There are so many others, how about the Macedonian call? Was that plea for help about "coming over and planting churches?"

Acts 16:9-10 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for TO PREACH THE GOSPEL unto them.

Btw, the book that you quoted from by Gene Edwards, HOW TO MEET, was actually written by an unnamed person who "bribed me to put my name on it." Page 4 for this information.

I do wish that, regardless of the vocabulary factor, we all desired the same things. I read statements like this one from HOW TO MEET and really have to wonder:

"Please note that no attempt is made to meet without the help of the church planter during the earliest days. No experimentation. No "going it alone." You need that church planter. When you start out, please understand you are at least six months from "trying it on your own!" Go back and take a close look at the birth of all those Gentile churches. The church planter is at the center of everything going on. This is true from day one until departure day." How to Meet, page 125.

Church planter at the center of everything going on? I'd say we've outIC'ed the IC on that one. I've never read of an IC clergy person who wanted to be "at the center of everything going on." But hey, we don't have to agree on everything, do we?

David Anderson


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Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 04:37:59 -0700 From: jferris

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

Enjoying this recent exchange, I would like to point out a significant problem where "church planting" and the restoration of apostles are concerned.

Juan Carlos Ortiz put it well. God's name to Moses was "I Am". All other gods "are not" It's only Gods that "are not" who need names. When you are the only God that is, "I Am" is name enough.

The God who is, plants churches that are. All other "churches" are not. Like their source, churches that are are one, one place, one church. It is only churches that are that are qualified to send out apostles who are. all other "apostles" are not. "Apostles" from division reproduce division. This is a very big problem. Even our friend Gene Edwards seems to be more alienated than redemptive. And the fruit of his "church plantership" seems to be more alienated than he is.

Of great concern is our continuing failure to obey the cardinal truth of the Scripture, "Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one God." With all of the certainty of my salvation, I believe that Ephesians 4:4-6 is an elaboration of this truth, and that God has provided the Church with leadership, "... apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers..." to work this out in this present age.

Of the gifted offices, the "five-fold ministries" plus the office of elder or overseer, Apostles, Elders, and Pastors, as such, have the greatest vested interest in matters of structure. Evangelists and Teachers, as such, are more concerned with the quantity and quality of the building materials, the "living stones". The church is "built on a foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone." Not only is the Universal church built in this way, but its local expressions in time and space are built this way as well.

A major difficulty throughout most of church history has been that there has been little if any recognition of apostles and prophets, and great confusion concerning the position of elder. In our own day, there are signs that The Lord is restoring the offices of apostle and prophet to the church, but there is still great confusion concerning the proper basis of eldership. As this works itself out within the framework of the Kansas City Fellowship, for instance, the prophetic restoration seems to be compromised by subjection to the institutional vehicle of its restoration.

In any case, the current situation is one in which the pastors alone have the vested interest associated with the present power structures. In the absence of clearly identifiable prophetic and apostolic ministry, and in the continuing presence of great confusion where eldership is concerned, the pastors determine structure. And in their minds, no one has the authority to ask, "What doest thou?" Prophets, to the degree they are recognized, are "their prophets". Elders, to the degree that there are any, are "their elders".

Prophets, as such, must remain external to the vested interests of structures. Prophets who are subject to the structure, are compromised in their ability to see and speak to its defects.

The Bible tells us that "we can do nothing against the truth". If we don't like the truth, the best thing to do is to prevent its being spoken. This is why stoning prophets is the number one sport in Jerusalem. Religious people, and especially religious leaders have not always loved the truth, and prophetic ministry has been God's corrective for this problem. Prophets are the cannon fodder of the Lord.

Paul was able to deal with this problem, as long as he was present. What was going to happen after he left, however was the object of three and one half years of tears. Paul understood, what we need to understand, and that is that in Ephesus there was only one Church. Because he understood this, and this was his confession and aim, He was able to deal with the motives of those who would divide the flock. If we would allow the Lord to deal with our own perceptions, fears and ambitions, we also would be able to deal with those who would divide the Body. Until we repent of those principles resident in our own hearts which allow us to preside without shame over the broken Body of Christ, we will continue to be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

I believe that, the restoration of Divine government should begin with the most senior men and become more inclusive as seems good to this developing body of elders. If the elders are the ones with the eyesight, then they themselves are in the best position to take heed to themselves. I should add, and do so with some fear and trembling, that this process will also include the assistance of apostles and prophets.

In the Church at its inception there was this other dimension, which today is very much blurred by our tradition. The early Church was "built on a foundation of apostles and prophets." In no case was the Government of God established by, even the right men, standing up and declaring that they were proper objects of submission. There are proper objects of submission, but in the Kingdom of God, self ordination is primafacia disqualification. Sectarian ordination, while not disqualification, is certainly compromised.

The ministries or recognition of the ministries of apostles and prophets are only just recently beginning to be restored to the Church. As a result, the input of apostles is not yet widely recognized, or received. The children of Abraham are still looking for a city, not a divided city, but a unified city, one whose builder and maker is God.

Present leadership, including "church planters" are much too willing to preside without shame over the division of the Body of Christ. What ever happened to repentance?

Jay


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Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 17:23:28 +0800 From: "Anthony Toh - Spare Part Dept"

Subject: RE: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Personal Evangelism - a call for help!

Amen to that

Anthony Toh - Spare Parts Dept Air Power Resources Pte Ltd Tel: 065-4455743 Fax: 065-4411863

- -----Original Message----- From: owner-New Testament Church Proliferation [mailto:owner-New Testament Church Proliferation]On Behalf Of Sam Buick Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2001 12:14 AM To: New Testament Church Proliferation

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Personal Evangelism - a call for help!

Personal Evangelism should not be considered an activity but rather the fruit of our intimate relationship with the Lord. I have given up "targeting people" for the obvious reason that to do so reduces people to "things to be attained". Jesus looked upon people as people, people to be related to. I pray daily for the Lord to bring across my path someone in need of Christ or simply in need. I ask the Holy Spirit to empower me and enable me to respond to this person or the situation. Yes, there are definite connections to what the Lord has been doing all along. I have found myself involved in a beginning process, where the person is exposed to the gospel, and then I never come across them again, until some time later, and in some cases, years later, and I have found out that someone watered what was share and explained it in greater detail, and then another harvested, or was there when the person made a confession and profession of faith. I have sown seed, I have watered, and I have been involved in the harvesting of souls. I have made myself available to pray for people's needs and have seen the Lord meet the need and in some cases actually heal people. The Lord is looking for us to simply be conduits of His grace to whomever He draws across our path.

Sam


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Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 13:05:12 -0400 From: "Sam Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] re: The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

From: David Anderson

Why one or the other, my brother? It is certainly both. Everything we do should be done out of an intimate relationship with the Lord. There is no tension whatsoever between evangelism and what you call "church planting." Evangelism is just telling another thirsty person where the Water is. Why are we even comparing it to church planting or to anything? The concept stands on its own. It is the natural tendency of every true believer just as meeting with other believers is. "We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." "Whoso is born of God loveth the (company of the) brethren."

Well David, here I really distinguish being a "witness" which is what you are describing from the "gift of evangelism". Yes, I agree that all things ~should~ flow from intimate relationship with Jesus, but the unfortunate ~reality~, at least in 95% of the churches I have been a part of (13 in my adult life, and I am now 43), ~all~ but this latest one, which the Lord ~planted~ by knitting the hearts of a gathering of people together, has focussed on ~doing~ things for God, rather than ~being~ the church. One is activity oriented (works), and the other is relational. If I sit at the feet of Jesus, and keep the intimate relationship alive and focussed on Him, and allow Him free access to live His life through me, ~then~ the ~activities~ will be God driven, rather than ~flesh~ driven from the pressures of ~church leadership~ or the ~expectations of the structures of belief system of the church~. That's where I see the subtlety, but a very serious problem in the body of Christ today. The ~leadership~ in many of the churches are task and program driven, and need the people to ~drive~ their vision and programs, and very often these very dedicated people end up starving relationally with their relationship with the Lord. They are loved for the ~work~ they do, and are to be commended for their service, but many I have known, and I include myself here, burn out, simply because we replace the intimate relationship with the task. In recent years I have dedicated myself to relationship, and all activities being ~flowing from the relationship~. I think many of us, and I include myself can get so focussed on the activities and tasks that we end up forsaking the relationship, not out of purpose, but out of a lack of focus or simple neglect, that ends up being very costly in the end.

Persons were referred to as evangelists and you say that evangelism should not be considered an activity? We see evangelism in the early church through principle and practice. By the way, that's the name of a truly excellent book on the subject: "Evangelism in the Early Church" by Michael Green.

I have read segments of the book above. His segment on house church and evangelism I found intriguing. But I need to read it more in depth. As I mentioned in my previous paragraph, lets focus on the relationship and let the activities, not matter what they are, be it evangelism or cleaning the toilets, lets let these activities flow out of our intimate relationship with the Lord. We cannot presume that we are in deep relationship simply because we are doing ~the works of Jesus~. That is very presumptive. I think that if the ~church~ that gathers together focussed on ~relationships~ with the Lord and one another, and really functioned as an extended ~family~, then the dynamic of the ~activities~ would flow out of ~being family~ rather than ~doing family~.

But NOWHERE, in fact, was anyone COMMANDED TO PLANT CHURCHES nor is it recorded that anyone ever did. CHURCHES exist AS THE CONVERTED OR EVANGELIZED ones MEET from day one. NOWHERE IS ANY individual CHURCH SAID TO HAVE BEEN "PLANTED, birthed, founded, started, organized, "raised up" etc." Nor is there a record of any "core group" waiting to become a church or waiting for a "church planter" to arrive. These facts should command our attention. WHAT WAS figuratively PLANTED WAS THE GOSPEL SEED ACCORDING TO JESUS (parable of the sower, for example). Gene Edwards of "Seed Sowers Publishing" should realize that. :D Furthermore, no person in Scripture is identified as a "church planter."

I won't argue the point there. I am in agreement with you on this. I have used the ~church planter~ description simply because this list, is wanting to address ~planting~ churches. The debate is usually centered on what is the church, how does it function, what does it look like, and how should they be ~planted~ or begun. I agree with you on the essence of what you have said. What Edwards and others have proposed is simply the pattern in the NT, the book of Acts, and epistles, is that apostles are the ones who ~founded~ churches through the evangelistic proclamation of the gospel, that's all that is being said here. When you say ~Furthermore, no person in Scripture is identified as a "church planter"~, I agree with you, but the chief activity of the apostles was evangelism/proclamation/ekklesia (church ~planting~). So while they are not described as ~church planters~, they none the less laid the foundation of the ekklesia through the evangelism/preaching your are speaking of. The direct result was the ~planting of the ekklesia/church~.

I know, I know, it's so simple we had to complicate it somehow.... :)

Me, I use those misleading phrases simply because of what others mean by them, which for the most part are good and necessary things. Of course, we all want to see churches exist where they did not previously exist and, of course, we want to see outside help come in if it is available. But this will occur only AFTER persons respond to the "preaching of the Word."

Agreed 100%

If we properly understood the meaning of the word "preach" which simply means to "proclaim the Gospel" we would see that such evangelistic activity was practically UNIVERSAL in century one. We think that preaching was what went on ~in~ the churches. Actually, this word (several) consistently applies to what went on ~outside~ of the churches. Some specialized in it as a life work but not all.

Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

What you have just described is what I understand the ~apostolic evangelistic proclamation~ to be! I agree!

Imagine...thousands and thousands of converted, spirit filled Jews, eagerly leaving Pentecost with the one previously missing PIECE. It is quite unfathomable that they would have had to wait for years for one of a few, slow moving "real church planters" to arrive to "plant" something. Gentiles, on the other hand, had no body of knowledge from the Old Testament and would have required much more teaching to be brought up to speed.

I don't know about what you are saying. The book of Acts states that many of the Jews after Pentecost were outsiders who decided to remain in Jerusalem, sold all they had at home to remain there, and held all things ~in common~ with one another. This is why the ~Greek Jews~ were in conflict with the ~Jerusalem Jews~. I don't see anywhere in Acts that the Jews ~left~ after Pentecost. They all remained in Jerusalem for ~years~, ~before~ church planters went out to the surrounding areas (Judea, Samaria). It took ~persecution~ to drive out the church from Jerusalem to ~plant churches~ in Judea and Samaria.

Preaching and teaching were the driving forces in the apostles' lives. If it were not so, they would have surely mentioned it and said things like: Whoa is me if I plant not churches. The ministry of Jesus is also described by "preaching and teaching."

Agreed! No problem there. I just believe what is commonly viewed and ~preaching and teaching

Sam, you also quoted something several days ago:

Ours is strange thinking when compared to Paul's! Paul's thought centered on establishing the ekklesia, NOT on soul winning."

Again, why, why not both? Where is a single verse of scripture to substantiate these words?

Would you please reconcile your assertion in view of a couple of Paul's summary statements about his work: Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, 1 Cor. 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save (win) some.

The question here is that it was not ~soul winning~ for the sake of soul winning, it had the purpose of bringing people not just into the Kingdom of God, but as active members of the ~ekklesia~. To go out and win the lost without purpose is senseless. I cannot tell you how many evangelism seminars I have taken where they ~never~ redirect new believers into the ~body life~ of a local church. It is very disturbing.

Look at the commissions of Peter and Paul. Gal. 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them THAT GOSPEL WHICH I PREACH among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. Gal. 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that THE GOSPEL of the uncircumcision WAS COMMITTED UNTO ME, as THE GOSPEL of the circumcision WAS UNTO PETER.

2 Cor. 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, WE PERSUADE MEN; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, PERSUADING THEM concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

There are so many others, how about the Macedonian call? Was that plea for help about "coming over and planting churches?"

Acts 16:9-10 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for TO PREACH THE GOSPEL unto them.

No argument, again the soul winning, preaching, etc, is to bring people into relationship with the Lord and other believers. If they are brought out of the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light, it is with the purpose that they be in relationship within the body life of a local church. They were not save to be apart, separated from other believers. They were saved to be in communion with God and with one another.

Btw, the book that you quoted from by Gene Edwards, HOW TO MEET, was actually written by an unnamed person who "bribed me to put my name on it." Page 4 for this information.

Ever heard Edwards speak? He has turned sarcasm and cynicism into a ~gift~.

I do wish that, regardless of the vocabulary factor, we all desired the same things. I read statements like this one from HOW TO MEET and really have to wonder:

"Please note that no attempt is made to meet without the help of the church planter during the earliest days. No experimentation. No "going it alone." You need that church planter. When you start out, please understand you are at least six months from "trying it on your own!" Go back and take a close look at the birth of all those Gentile churches. The church planter is at the center of everything going on. This is true from day one until departure day." How to Meet, page 125.

You are not the only one with a problem here. While I have opened the discussion with Edwards' comments, it does not mean I endorse everything he says or the spirit in which they are presented. I am simply stating that we need to really look at what we proclaim, what we do, and ask ourselves how biblical are we in what we understand and what we are about when we speak of being NT churches. I think this kind of discussion is need today.

Church planter at the center of everything going on? I'd say we've outIC'ed the IC on that one. I've never read of an IC clergy person who wanted to be "at the center of everything going on." But hey, we don't have to agree on everything, do we?

David Anderson

Edwards says that the church planter is only the ~center~ of what is going on for a short time, and that is in preparing people for body life, the corporate expression of the living Christ. He may teach, and edify and instruct, with the goal that he will move on to plant another church else. He is always working and working himself out of a ~job~.

The problem today is pastors and church planters have taken ~ownership~ of everything in the local church. Edwards, is simply pointing out that the local church should be left in the hands of the church, not the ~clergy~. And on this I agree.

Thanks for the stimulating discussion.

Sam

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #34



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