New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


July 17, 2001 Vol 01 : 035
 
[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] Re: The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

 

Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 12:08:21 -0700 From: "George Patterson"

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

Hi you guys that are analyzing evangelism, I appreciate your concern for an accurate view of evangelism. Let me add my two cents.

I'm not an evangelist but I have helped many to become effective witnesses for Christ. To mobilize new believers to witness I have not found it helpful to do a lot of analyzing of what evangelism is and isn't, nor to define it in great detail. What has been more helpful in several cultures is to help believers, especially new ones, to do two things: 1. To remain in a loving relationship with their relatives and friends, 2. To simply tell them what has happened, along with the basic gospel message.

There is confusion as to what the basic message is. The last three gospel tracts I have read have neglected mentioning the resurrection! This would have been alarming to the apostles; they always made it the high point of their witness. The basic gospel proclamation for all nations, according to Jesus in Luke 24:46-48, requires us to be witness of specific things. These are: His death and resurrection, His promise of forgiveness to all who repent.

For the Good News to flow from friend to friend and family to family, we avoid using any equipment or method that requires $, electricity or an extensive background in Bible or doctrine. Otherwise, the flow stops with those who have these advantages. Just tell the story (one's own, and that of Jesus).

I hope this is helpful.

Your servant, George Patterson

- ----- Original Message ----- From: "Sam Buick" To: Sent: Monday, July 16, 2001 10:05 AM 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

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Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 08:48:51 -0400 From: "Sam Buick"

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

From: jferris

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.

No question here. The saddest of commentaries on what has happened with Gene, is that he began this journey into body life and church in the house a very long time ago. He was marginalized and ridiculed and suffered much for simply wanting to return to what he understood to be the church. When you are persecuted in this way, and I have to confess that I understand little of what he has faced, for I have entered this fray in recent years and do not have the battle scars from the battles as he has. It is alienation itself and a lack of understanding that has made him the man he now is, and the fruit is the direct result of the wounding he has suffered from the hands of other believers. I for one repent on behalf of those who lashed out and wounded him and those like him. General Booth once said "The Christian army is the only army that kills its own wounded." Such is the case here.

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.

Agreed!

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.

I have a really difficult time with the term "office" as evangelical Christianity seems to automatically take it literally! It is not an office is the sense of what we have turned the leadership gifts into. The resent resurgence and emergence of prophets and apostles originally really encouraged and strengthened my faith. Unfortunately though, most of the ones I am hearing about are those who add the "title" to their resumes, door shingle, and business card! The leadership gifts are for servants. Servants. Servants. Doesn't anybody get it?! The vast majority so far, are coming across as bold, almost brazen, CEO mentality, "super leader" to the rest of the body of Christ. There is one Head in the church, the rest of the gifts, leadership gifts included, are "flat lined". There is no hierarchy in the Kingdom. The "office" gifts, leadership gifts, are "functional" gifts that differentiate the ministry of leaders who serve the rest of the body by building them up, equipping them, and releasing them to the work of the ministry.

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.

As I see the role of eldership in the NT, especially Acts, and the epistles, and you can see it in the gospel as well, the function of eldership was to be in the body, not so much to "lead" but to respond to what the Holy Spirit was doing, and whatever "crisis" might need to be looked into. My understanding of Paul and his ministry is that the church did fine without elders, but that he appointed elders, so that collectively, they could deal with any difficulties that arose in the church in a particular city. Too often eldership has come to be defined as leadership that takes charge of what is going on in the Christian community of faith. Often when this happens it is reduced from a Holy Spirit led and guided ministry, to simply human leadership and power and control. Also noteworthy, the NT apostles were also viewed as be "elders", and if we go by their example, they truly served the body. Do elders today really understand what it is to lay their lives down for the sheep?

In any case, the current situation is one in which the pastors alone have the vested interest associated with the present power structures.

Yes, and that is part of the problem! Pastors have been elevated above the people because of the "office" mindset. If pastors were understood to be functionally different than others, and who were there to serve, and not be served, then the church would look and feel and be radically different. Unfortunately power and control, even in some of our most respected churches, corrupts what God intends for good.

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".

Are you differentiating the elders from the five fold? I do not make that distinction, and I do not see that taught explicitly in the NT. Leadership in the NT is servant based. The elders were apostolic and prophetic and gave oversight, in that they did not control, but submitted to the leading of the Spirit and the Spirit's collective witness to the corporate body as the body moved under the headship of Jesus.

I agree with you, that the leadership issue really clouds what is at stake not only in the local assembly, but in the city wide church, or regional church. Most pastors are "localized" in their mindset. It is always it appears, "My/Our...whatever". The problem I believe is that we have traditionally had a very narrow view of the Kingdom, of the church, and of the body of Christ. My understanding from the NT, and from the history of the early church, is that leaders often moved across the city ministering in a variety of settings. Robert Fitts shared with me when he was here with us that he believed the five fold simply meant that in a geographical region, all these five ministries were evident in the whole body of Christ, and that there were certain elders/leaders who exercised these gifts. In an ideal situation, they should be encouraged to move about the region/city and minister to the body of Christ at large, without having to be a "member" of that local assembly. There should be such a recognition of the stamp of God on their ministry gift, that they are encouraged to bless the entire body. It sounds almost idillic, but it sure would be nice. Can you imagine being a prophet, who is called upon by another assembly in town, to come and minister through prophetic ministry to their assembly, while their apostolic leader who has a tremendous healing ministry comes and ministers amongst another assembly in the city. The whole body of Christ would be built up and encouraged and strengthened. We all belong to one another and we are the church together. Jesus is the head and we are the body.

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.

Agreed 100% I was part of a situation where prophets were manipulated and their sphere of influence was controlled by the person in "authority" (the pastor!). It was dismal, and the pastor never listened to the prophet, and if and when he did, and what he heard bothered him, he would preach a "corrective word" the next week! Unbelievable!

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.

Prophetic ministry can be the most gracious of blessings to the body. But if the body "despises" the gift, it can not only ruin the body, but also devastate the prophet and his loved ones. They become scandalized and ridiculed and marginalized, and eventually some, they just cry out for God to silence the gift! They cannot take it anymore! "Cannon fodder", really describes it to a tee!

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.

Agreed!

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.

Again, I do not make the sharp distinction between elders and the five fold, and in fact I believe the five exist within every legitimate body of believers that has been joined together by the Holy Spirit. I believe very much that the gathering as a people together, can be apostolic and prophetic, where there is a strong leading with the manifestations of what these particular gifts accomplish through the Spirit. When a woman, under the unction of the Spirit, senses that a ministry to single moms is to be birthed that will nurture and meet their spiritual needs in raising children, and she goes with what the Spirit is calling her to be and do, then she is being "apostolic" in birthing a new ministry, and she is being "apostolic" in sustaining and nurturing that particular ministry.

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 prima-facie disqualification. Sectarian ordination, while not disqualification, is certainly compromised.

Agreed. Somehow, when we act as potters, the clay is always marred in some way. It doesn't matter how hard we try to emulate what the Great Potter is doing, when we rely upon ourselves and our own means, we end up marring the pots!

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?

Agreed. The saddest part of it in our own city is that the "apostolic" oversight of the city is in the hands of men who can easily be puffed up, and who could easily view it as another "title" or "office". The men here, as genuinely trying to be apostolic, but sadly rather than evaluating what God is doing to the entire church government in these days, many apostolic leaders and simply fixing their boxes to include apostles and prophets now. I recently heard that the Pentecostal Assemblies in Australia dismantled their previous structures, but what they actually did was replace the old titles with new ones. Instead of superintendents, they are now apostles. New wine in old wineskins! When will we ever learn?! Why are we always trying to make God and His plans and purposes "fit" our boxes? Whatever happened to humility? Whatever happened to the understanding that Jesus is the head of the church and He is the One building it. Lord, You guide us and lead us, and You O Lord transform the church into Your likeness! Do not forsake us O Lord! Draw us into Your Presence Lord, and change us, that we may glorify You and honor You in all we proclaim and profess. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Sam


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Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 19:46:55 -0400 From: "Dan Beaty"

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

George wrote:

This has been an interesting topic for me. I am not an evangelist either, but desire to appreciate everything that Christ is. Since He plainly announced, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for God hath anointed me to "preach glad tidings (one word euaggelizo), He is the Greatest Evangelist of all.

Analyzation does not bother me, but I find it strange on a list dedicated to mission, outreach, church planting etc, that evangelism itself would come under attack.

Rather we should be encouraging one another to share the love and message of Christ as God leads and enables each one. What do Y'all think?

Dan Beaty

Columbus, Ohio USA http://www.livingtruth.com

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #35

 




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