New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

July 28, 2001 Vol 01 : 040
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Robert Banks book on missions

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Robert Banks book on missions

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

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Apostleship comments

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

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting house church's


Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 19:03:50 -0400 From: Bruce P Gordon

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Banks book on missions

I don't have Banks' email but there's a general email address at the Web site of the place he now teaches, the Macquarie Christian Studies Institute in Australia. You should be able to reach him by this means.

The Web site is

The Email is integrating*

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Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 20:08:58 -0400 From: The Dwelling Place

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Banks book on missions

Further as to Banks' bio:


Robert, Director & Dean of MCSI, studied at Sydney, London and Cambridge Universities as well as Moore Theological College. He was the first Lecturer in New Testament at Macquarie University, a Fellow of the Zadok Centre in Canberra, and then founding Professor of Lay Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary and Executive Director of the De Pree Leadership Centre, both in Los Angeles. He has had a lifelong connection with Inter Varsity Fellowship, ranging from faculty advisor to Christian Unions, working with its U.S. Marketplace Ministry Division, and as an author of several books for IVP. His many publications cover biblical studies, Christian lifestyle, community building, and faith & work. Several of his books have been honored with Book of the Year awards, most recently The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity. He has also worked extensively among business people, filmmakers in Hollywood, teachers, and senior people in government.

From: Bruce P Gordon Reply-To: New Testament Church Proliferation Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 19:03:50 -0400 To: New Testament Church Proliferation Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Banks book on missions

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Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 10:51:07 -0700 From: "John Cooke"

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


My apologies for in any way disrespecting Gene Edwards. I do, however, disagree with him in certain things he says. I agree that all Christians need to be theological and missiological. That was not my point. I meant that Edward's strong suit does not seem to be in the area of mission strategy. This does not come by formal education only but by lifetime work and experience planting churches cross-culturally and around the world and training others to do the same. That is education too. Education is a lifetime thing. Don't let schooling get in the way of your education.

Sam! Your assertions are astounding: - - that using the term "Great Commission" is not biblical, - - that it was for Apostles only!!!! - - that it was finished in the first century!!!!!! - - that it was only for Jews in the Roman empire!!!!

This is some of the most ridiculous stuff I have ever run into! Sounds like the result of extreme dispensationalism. You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the history of the church who believed this foolishness until fairly recently. Certainly the church fathers did not teach it nor did the apostles.

What has been called the "Great Commission" (and I see nothing wrong in using a term that the majority of the church understands as referring to the final commands of Christ)clearly states that we are to Go, making disciples of all nations (ethne) not just Jews, and every creature in the whole world, not just the Roman Empire. (I know the argument that in some cases Paul's use of "the whole world" referred to the Roman empire). Jesus statements underline in several ways the universal nature of his command. The apostles and the early church later took Him to mean the whole world not just the Roman empire (thank God!otherwise most of us would not have the Gospel).

That it was just for the Apostles, requires some pretty tortured hermeneutics. Just how can you say that one of the commands of Jesus is for the Apostles only and the rest are for us all. You could just as easily say that the whole history of the church has been mistaken and that "love one another, be baptized, forgive, give generously, partake of the bread and wine in memory of me", etc. were just for the apostles and for the Jews because they were spoken to the Apostles and the Jews.

As for your question "where are the apostles today?" The word simply means those sent with a message. The word "missionary" comes from the Latin translation of apostle. Apostles are simply those who come first to a people with the Gospel. The church is built on the foundation that apostles lay. Modern missionary teams planting churches in places where there are none are apostolic in their work. Apostles are not an exclusive class of Christians with hierarchical authority and privilege that the rest of us do not have. This was forbidden by Christ! They are just ordinary people with gifts and calling and unique functions in the Body which we all have.

Your statement that people need to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of him for a while before they become "reproducers" is not in dispute, however, most Christians in the western church spend a lifetime in the pew without ever making a new disciple. House churches become just as ingrown if they are not purposeful in obeying all the commands of Christ including the one to go and disciple all the nations. Remember, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one lost sheep who is found (one sinner who repents)than for all the 99 safe in the fold. The disciples were sent out looking for lost sheep as part of their discipleship training (and not just the 12 "apostles" but the 70 followers) after spending less than a year sitting at his feet.

I would encourage you to become a simple student of the Bible with a heart to obey what Jesus said rather than sifting it through human systems of interpretation which so often "wrongly divide" the Word of Truth. They become excuses not to obey the the explicit commands of Jesus, may is Name be praised!

John Cooke

- ----Original Message Follows---- From: The Dwelling Place Reply-To: New Testament Church Proliferation To: Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 23:09:14 -0400

Actually John, if you took the time to simply read 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.


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 missionary, house & cell church planting coach jfcooke*

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.


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Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 22:26:22 +0700 From: "Link" Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Apostleship comments


This is Link. I'm back from my Sumatra-Batam trip.

Btw, thanks to Mike Gastin for helping out with moderating, and Dave Anderson for continuing to do all his hard work to keep this group going.

Wow! I went through some real gospel frontiers where very few seem to be laboring, and where some who are laboring have been put in prison due to false accusations, I hear.

I told earlier about my wife tracking down her birth mother, after her father had run away with her and her sisters when they were little. Her mother, it turns out, is a member of a certain religion (a 'cousin.') She married someone of that same religion, and had 9 (NINE!!!) more kids with him. So my wife has 14 siblings!

My wife shared the word with her mother. Her mother seemed interested in repenting, but her concern was what she would tell her kids after trying to raise them 'right' in this other religion, and what her husband would say. We had a party for my birthday at her mother's house. I prayed the day before the party that God would send someone that I and my wife both new from Jakarta who was a Christian who could share with my wife's family and help lead them to the Lord. Maybe the Lord gave me that prayer to pray.

I called around and got the name of a pastor of a Charismatic denominational church where my wife used to be involved. I was involved a little with that denomination several years back in Jakarta, too. We called and asked him to come to dinner with us for my birthday and to minister to my wife's family.

It turns out, he came to our hotel tell us he couldn't make it but delegated the job to someone else. It turns out that this other man, a minister at their church, Dodi, was someone I knew from Jakarta!!! My wife knew him and his wife even better than I did!!! We both knew them about the same time, though my wife and I hadn't gotten to know each other yet. (God sure has an amazing way of answering prayers!)

Dodi came over, shared with Hana's unhealthy stepfather about healing a little, but he didn't seem focused enough with all the stuff going on. We took Hana's mother and this couple out to eat the next night. When we took Hana's mother home, her husband told Dodi to come visit him at the house some time.

Dodi and I had a conversation in the hotel lobby after we dropped Momma off. His wife talked in the hotel room with my wife. Dodi had made some comments about his churches doctrine regarding apostleship.

Dodi had said that he got his salary from his church's pastor, whom they consider to be an apostle. They believe that everyone had to have a 'covering' in their organization.

I shared with him some of my concerns about doctrines concerning modern apostleship. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus called 12 disciples as apostles 'sent ones' and then sent them forth to preach before him. Then we see that, in Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were 'sent ones' sent forth to do a work among the Gentiles, which involved preaching and teaching to them. I pointed out the common element- people being sent forth to preach.

Paul's authority extended to the Corinthians because he had brought the Gospel to them. Some false apostles came in, boasting in other men's labors, claiming to be someone, promoting themselves, perhaps even slapping others in the face. The Corinthians were the fruit of the labors of Paul and others who worked with him. They believed through his ministry. His work of laying foundations involved evangelizing the very first believers in a church community. It's easy for someone to come along later and claim to be an apostle and claim authority over another man's labors.

In Jerusalem, Paul submitted to the elders. There he may have been like a 'younger brother.' In Corinth, he was a father in the Gospel. But not in Jerusalem. Many there had been in Christ before him. They could receive his ministry, but he didn't have the responsibility or the authority in the Jerusalem church like he did among those he won to Christ.

I shared with Dodi my concern that some claimed to be apostles without considering the role of apostleship in scripture. They claim to be apostles because of an 'anointing' and some think of apostles as preachers who are just more supernatural than other people. Some think apostles are heads of denominations.

I shared some other concerns of mine about New Testament church, like I Corinthians 14 and Hebrews 10:24-25 about meetings.

Dodi appreciated what I shared and asked to keep in touch through email. He might be interested in joining this list.

Link Hudson

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Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 15:00:30 -0400 From: "Sam Buick"

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

Dear John: Again you miss my points.

1. You speak of hermeneutics. Yes, lets talk hermeneutics a minute: Who were the people Jesus addressed? Jews What was the known "world" at the time? Roman - Med/Europe/Middle East/ Africa Who did Jesus come to proclaim the Kingdom to? The Jews. Go ahead check it for is the Jews

I am not arguing that we should `not` evangelize. What I am arguing is that the proclamation was originally intended for the Jews and the `world` at that time.

And John, please refrain from labeling me a `dispensationalist`. You do not know (a) how insulting I find it to be labeled as such, and (2) how far removed I am from being one of them theologically. Dispensationalism has done more harm to the evangelical movement than any other error in church history combined! I am not one of them in the very least.

I do believe in evangelism, but I distinguish between those who are called to be evangelists and those who are to `bear witness` of Christ (which is every believer).

I just find it amusing and sad to see hermeneutics toyed with and people not taking the words of Jesus in their historical context and building a whole system of belief upon their own context and interpretation of history. Please spare me the church fathers and the historical records of the early church. We know who "controls" those documents. We know how the records of the early church were twisted and mismanaged by the institutional church (read Roman Catholic here). No, I will look upon such documents with much scrutiny and suspicion. The RC church always persecuted those and ridiculed those that did not fall in line with their system.

Thanks for your comments John.


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Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001 09:51:38 +0700 From: "Link" Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting house church's

There are some small schools that teach Bible college graduates how to plant house church's in unreached areas with populations of 99%+ unbelieving. One of the people doing this used to be in favor of having regular Christians plant house church's, but he found that the Bible college grads often had more discipline. They were used to waking up at 4 am to pray like they did at school, and these tough, unreached areas are places where discipline is needed. They found that non-Bible college graduates usually didn't have the discipline.

The problem with sending out experienced ministers is that they are often stuck in their tradition.

I asked one man who advocated this strategy of planting house church's if this didn't keep promoting the clergy-laity distinction. He realized that, but in reality, this works better. The issue is discipline, and the Bible college student crowd had been in a disciplined environment.

I also find it interesting that some people working with house church's are from non-house church type churches in the US. Larger, non-house church churches might be better at raising funds to send over workers. Does anyone know of any house church's in the US or in another develop country that even have sent out a missionary?

Maybe it's an issue of having a tiny church. In Jerusalem, the church met in homes, but it was also a large, city-church community. Church government seemed to have functioned on a city level as well. Maybe dividing up into very tiny house church's without networking with the larger local body isn't conducive to mission's work.

Any comments?

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #40

house church eldership servanthood lord's day lord's supper world missions