New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


August 1, 2001 Vol 01 : 043
 
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] War against the saints

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

 

Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 13:12:20 -0400 From: "Samuel Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

Right on Jay! Eloquent and to the point. Why go to war, if not for the dynamic relationships Jesus died for?

Sam

From: jferris Reply-To: New Testament Church Proliferation To: New Testament Church Proliferation

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 11:18:37 -0700

Dear Michael,

THE VEIL WAS RENT

Coming down the hill from some time with my neighbors, something occurred to me concerning the veil. It was rent from the top to the bottom. In the first instance, and in its narrow sense, this veil represents "the law". Certainly this is the first instance of my understanding. One way of looking at the law is that the law represents external authority. The veil then, understood as external authority, can represent a number of possibilities. External authority can certainly be external commands, and written regulations, but it can also be authority structures, "hierarchy".

As an external authority structure, I am reminded that judgment begins with the household of God, and in Ezekiel 9, it begins with the elders in front of the temple. There is an interesting scene in the Mel Gibson film, THE PATRIOT. The British general is objecting to the patriot and his men shooting the British officers first. Understood in this light, the rending the vail from the top to bottom, would indicate that the rending begins with the leadership.

On a more personal level, the rending of the veil has some implications for the "futility of Gentile thinking" or those with a religious mind set. In this case, rending the vail from top to bottom means being set free from faulty thinking rooted in our own heads. Jesus, in his own flesh, not only rent this veil of preexisting external regulation, thus making possible real intimacy with God, but he rent every such veil, past, present and future. This is to say, we don't have to tear anything down. He tore it all down on the cross. Institutional Christianity has already been torn down, all we need do is walk through the rent curtain into the life which He has made available in its place.

Pursuing this in a little greater depth. One way of looking at external regulation is to see it as a kind of Paradigm. According to Webster, paradigm means, "a pattern, example or model." Contemporary usage has it more in the sense of a grid or filter on perception and understanding. A Paradigm is a kind of filter that we look through. That filter acts as a kind of external pattern or structure which governs how we act and react toward the world around us including other people. The word pictures in the Bible are paradigms, designed to indicate facets of who we are as God's people. There are many such paradigms, Biblical analogies which can help us in our understanding of who we are.

The following list is not exhaustive:

Ambassadors - Representatives of a foreign government Body - The functional expression of Christ in the earth Branches - The place where God's life results in fruit Bread - One loaf, ground together, and baked. Bride - A people in intimate relationship with God Building - A structure according to plan Church - Those gathered by life, out of the world City - A protected place of great variety in relationship Family - The life structure of the children of God Field - A place to raise crops Fig Tree - God's provision for the healing of the nations

Garden - A place where variety grows House - A place to live Household - Those under one roof Israel - Having prevailed in struggle, those fit to rule Kingdom - One people under one government Living stones - Divine building material Mount Zion - A place of joy Nation - A distinct people among peoples New Creation - Those with a fresh start and eternal future New Jerusalem - A city with Godly foundations Olive Tree - God's anointed Priesthood - Those who represent others before God. Servants - Those who embody Godly authority Sheep - Those who are totally dependent Soldiers - Those equipped for war Temple - The dwelling place of God Vineyard - A place to grow grapes for crushing into wine Wheat - A crop sewn by God and looking toward harvest

The summary statements are not finally definitive, but this gives us, at least, a taste of the various facets on the truth of who we are in Christ.

There is a paradigm in the heart of God that transcends all of these. It is in the passion of the heart of God that all the rest come together. The mind of Christ is a kind of paradigm, a kind of way of looking at things and people, a perspective on reality. In fact reality is found only in Christ, in the mind of Christ.

To get to the mind of Christ requires what, in the current vernacular, is described as a "paradigm shift". When the veil was rent, there was a divinely initiated paradigm shift. We were given a lot more than that, but the paradigm shift is what is necessary for us to appropriate what we have been given in Christ. There are a number of passages which come to mind as I think about it in these days, even in these "last days".

The author of Hebrews puts it this way: "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, (veil) that is his body,..." Hebrews 10:19,20

Mark puts it this way, "With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain (veil) of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." Mark 15:37, 38

Paul puts it this way in Ephesians and Colossians 2, "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace." "...having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross." Ephesians 2:14,15, Colossians 2:14

In the Most Holy Place is the heart of God. We get a little glimpse of the heart of God in Song of Songs: "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal over your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned." Song of Songs, 8:6,7.

Exodus puts it this way: "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Exodus 34:14,

Song of Songs speaks of the seal of God's love. This brings to mind Ezekiel 9: 4, 6 where the judgment of God followed the seal "...Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it..... So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple."

Judgment, not only begins with the household of God, it begins from the top down.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of Heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Matthew 23:13-15

There is a passion in the heart of God. He wants us to enter into, and share that passion. What does that passion look like? For us who believe, or claim to believe, it looks like Jesus on the cross. "This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for each other." God redefined "agape" on the cross. Until then, it was only good for friends, after that it was also good for enemies, Romans 5:10

The heart of God, the love of God, the passion of God is the reactor that empowers the doing of God, Isaiah 9:7 It must be the reactor of our doing as well. In inviting us to embrace the "bridal paradigm", Mike Bikle warns against a carnally minded preoccupation with the paradigm of human sexuality, and having made that disclaimer, is quite correct when he says, "workers are limited, they will go only just so far, but lovers will go all the way."

The relationships of Jesus, had their source in His Father. For us who believe, Jesus is Lord of Relationship. Faith works by love. A "church" without relationships that come from God is no church at all. Relationships that are not energized by the passion of God, even the passion of God in our own hearts, are no relationships at all. God's kind of passion lays its life down for enemies. What is the content of our own hearts even for each other??

In general our inability to get along as Christians has something to do with the violation of our expectations. Expectations certainly come in great profusion and variety. Expectations are largely determined by the paradigm through which we are seeing and responding to the world around us. There is a set of expectations in every one of the paradigms mentioned above. Somehow there is a paradigm in the mind of Christ which sets us free from being compartmentalized, free to love, and love with the very passion of God.

The day Jesus said, "I love you", His expectations were nailed to the tree. Even our expectations are a kind of external authority structure determining how we act and react. Jesus should be Lord of both action and reaction. If this is going to happen the veil of our own expectations must be rent, and it must be rent from the top down. Judgment begins with the household of God, and it begins with the elders in front of the temple. Let us not be numbered among the satanic gate keepers, those who maintain the barriers to intimacy with God and each other, but rather let us plunge into the passion of God's heart through the veil of rent expectations even our own. They are only images anyway. The reality is found in Christ.

Oh yes, and again, we don't need to tear anything down, we are too late for that, Jesus tore every barrier down almost 2,000 years ago, all we need do is plunge boldly through it all.

Are we the army of God? yes we are, but without relationships that come from God, there is not much to go to war about.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 13:06:18 -0600 From: "John Cosby UIM"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

Link, this is a valid point. Cultural identify and value the world over are strongly centered in family/extended family. In the western mentality, which places a high value on individuality, evangelism has focused very much on individuals. It is, or course Biblical, that individuals come to Christ: it can't be done for them nor inherited (John 1). However, individual focused evangelism has often divorced and isolated individuals from family/extended family & friends. The result is a new believer who is severed from the cultural networking that not only is difficult for him/her but also eliminates the network of relationships that can be the very channel for the Gospel to spread to others. Evangelism, discipleship and worship within the family/extended family context can be very valuable to gain cultural relevancy and seems to be what happened with Peter's visit to Cornelius in Acts 10. John Greeley, CO

John Cosby <> To: Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2001 8:13 AM Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

1. All expressions of family relate around the table (meal times). It does not matter where you go, people gather and eat and fellowship around the main meal of the day. That is usually the evening meal. At that time exchanges and dialogue about the day takes place. It is a time to vent, reflect, and express how the day went. It is a time where relationships are strengthened and deepened. It is an intimate family moment that is shared over a meal

I've been thinking some similar thoughts.

But it's interesting to know that in some cultures, the family doesn't talk much during the meal. I found that out when I went to Korea. Many people eat quietly. It's uncomfortable for me. In many Asian cultures, it is considered impolite to talk while eating.

My wife is Asian, and when we first started dating, she was a little bit too quiet from my perspective, while we were eating. Some say it's bad manners to talk while eating. It's like you don't appreciate the food.

A friend of mine is from Irian Jaya, Indonesian Papua. If his brothers and sisters talked while eating, they could get slapped upside the head.

But a lot of cultures _do_ talk while eating. And even some of those who don't talk while eating know what it is like to go over to Grandma and Grandpa's house on Sunday or whenever they get free time and sit around and chat with the members of their extended family.

My wife is Batak. I don't speak Batak, but enough Indonesian is mixed in for me to have just a little idea to know what's going on. The Batak are really serious about the cultural traditions. When my wife and I went through a cultural ritual related to our marriage, the extended family clan sat around on the ground discussing issues related to the ceremony, giving advice, etc. The older members of the family, her father and his brothers, did most of the talking. My adopted Batak parents did some of the talking, along with some of the older representatives of the family. A few others made comments. Whenever anyone said certain things, perhaps a blessing on our marriage, everyone would say 'emangtutuk' which is like Batak for 'Amen.'

I've been to a Batak adoption meeting, and some other family meetings where they make decisions. Weddings and adoptions either include food as a part of the ceremony, or food is eaten afterward. A Batak wedding involves 'honoring' relatives of both families and other family representatives by distributing pieces of pork or water buffalo and, for parents, goldfish.

The Batak were evangelized by a German Lutheran, and many still belong to a church that has ties with the national church of Germany (though the are probably more conservative in some ways.) The Batak Lutheran church tends to be really liturgical, with everything written down on the bulletin. Some preachers read their sermons even.

I hear that Nommenson, who started the first Batak churches, followed Batak cultural patterns. I don't know if he gave them their liturgy or if later German missionaries did. But it seems to me that Batak family meetings and liturgy provide a good framework that might help Batak understand how a house church meeting could function. The Batak are used to a lot of 'preaching' and advice from older relatives to the younger in their meetings anyway.

About a quarter or a third of Batak are 'cousins.' (They cut up goats, beef, or water buffalo, and not pork.) Maybe whoever reaches these clans can set up house churches that resemble family meetings.

My neighbors across the street are a part of a 30+ million unreached people group, with maybe a couple of hundred believers in it. they are unbelievers. But every week, on Sunday no less, the family goes over to Grandma's house for a big family meeting. They also eat together.

A church meeting doesn't have to be set up in such a way that it's foreign. I've read that in India, many Indians are interested in Christ, but church turns them off. The meetings look foreign to them. They don't feel it's polite to wear shoes into a building like that, and other cultural issues. In house churches, people can take their shoes off at the door and sit on the floor just like they normally would in anyone's home. Visiting someone else's house is not a foreign and strange custom. Sharing an encouraging word is not foreign or strange. Church meetings have a different element involved, the gifts of the Spirit, and the fact that the meal is a memorial meal remembering Christ and a participation in His body and blood.

Locally, some m's want to use the mosque as a model for how to have a meeting. I think it would be better to look at the family as a cultural universal to help relate church meetings to new converts.

Link

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Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 15:06:34 -0600 From: "John Cosby UIM" Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

I understand Ephesians 4:12-13 as being the purpose that the Lord has for the Body of Christ (those who have come to know Christ personally). Therefore, every locality where believers gather together, there needs to be a function to make this happen. So, gifted individuals need to be about equipping other gifted individuals so that all are involved in the ministry. In this way all are maturing in their relationship with Christ and as such reflect His glory and graciousness. Thereby God is glorified. If the local assembly of believers promotes this, it is effective, whether meeting in a house, rented hall or a building made for that. If the place, or the structure of activity of the local gathering hinders this then it becomes less effective. Any method can become institutionalized and therefore cease to become a means to Godly ends, and becomes an end in and of itself. One problem we have in sending out people as church planting missionaries is the tendency to reproduce the local church model they have previously experienced. The normal, traditional type of North American local church is often not the model which will promote what Eph. 4 is talking about. So whether your church planter be a student or a veteran they need to be flexible and sensitive, with an awareness as to what will function most effectively among the focus people. Big & structured is not necessarily best. With largeness comes less personal interaction, less opportunity for all to participate, more of a need to be "professional" and multifunctional in order to put together the weekly "performance". My focus is the Hispanic Community. This model of local church tends to result in something that is eternally reliant on an outside missionary and/or Anglo church to provide the leadership resources to maintain it. If I were to drive a nail in the wall to hang a picture, trying to use a large sledge hammer, I would quickly discard it for a better tool. I've tried to use pliers, rocks and other things, but the right size hammer works best. Also, if I were to attempt to drive a large fence post with a small hammer, I would quickly discard that for a post hole digger. The right tool for the right job. A local church is a tool to accomplish the job of bringing people to "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. John Greeley, CO John Cosby <> To: Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 8:51 PM Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

There are some small schools that teach Bible college graduates how to plant Home 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 Home 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 Home 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 Home Church's are from non-Home Church type churches in the US. Larger, non-Home Church churches might be better at raising funds to send over workers. Does anyone know of any Home 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 Home Church's without networking with the larger local body isn't conducive to mission's work.

Any comments?

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Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 08:10:57 -0400 From: "Dan Beaty"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

John Cosby wrote:

also:

John,

This is exactly where I have been coming from for many years. It has been my experience that smaller group meetings especially in homes can become the natural environment for members to function and build up one another, but not always.

The road block that I see is not just the meeting place per se, but the clergy/laity system that is so deeply rooted in our N. American society. When we see ourselves as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, THE PEOPLE of God, then we welcome those equipping gifts without setting them high on a pedestal.

But even in countries like India and Africa the spectator mentality exists. The enemy has used this aspect of human nature to reduce the effectiveness of the church in many areas.

Teachings on the Body of Christ can help, but I sense that a strong prophetic word is needed to break the yoke that continues to hold many, both clergy and "laity."

It is my conviction that this is the hour for such a prophetic word to the Church of Jesus Christ world wide.

Dan Beaty Columbus, Ohio USA

http://www.livingtruth.com

 

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Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 09:58:06 -0700 From: jferris

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

The road block that I see is not just the meeting place per se, but the clergy/laity system that is so deeply rooted in our N. American society. When we see ourselves as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, THE PEOPLE of God, then we welcome those equipping gifts without setting them high on a pedestal.

But even in countries like India and Africa the spectator mentality exists. The enemy has used this aspect of human nature to reduce the effectiveness of the church in many areas.

Teachings on the Body of Christ can help, but I sense that a strong prophetic word is needed to break the yoke that continues to hold many, both clergy and "laity."

It is my conviction that this is the hour for such a prophetic word to the Church of Jesus Christ world wide.

Dan Beaty Columbus, Ohio USA

http://www.livingtruth.com

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Dear Dan,

In trying to explain the problem recently, I put it this way: "What's needed is spiritual parents.

That in my understanding is the fuller job description of true pastoral ministry. I don't know if you have noticed, but parents don't get paid to parent, it costs them. It was in this sense that Paul said, "... death in me, that life in you.." There is far too much paid pastoring, and not nearly enough real parenting going on in the Body of Christ.

"Elders who rule well are worthy of double honor.." Now, Elders are something else, they are over or ought to be over pastors, and those who rule well ought to be financially honored as well as in whatever other way might be appropriate. They are over seers, not over doers, and as such they should exercise over sight as pastors/shepherds. They are grandparents, and great grandparents to the flock of God, and the hands on parenting of the children should be going on under their oversight, even if not under their direction.

Viewed in this light then, the flow of finances in the kingdom of God as it is presently being practiced, is a usurpation or misapplication of funds, into the hands of parents at the expense of the elders, and this is "corban", all over again. I say that fully appreciative of the whole context."

Yours in Christ,

Jay Ferris


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Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 17:21:42 +0200 From: "Deborah"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] War against the saints

Brother Jay, No biblical Christian can disagree with the message of love you're shouting from the top of the jungle jim. It's just the amount of people whose hair you pulled on the way up that might voice a complaint. I and others on the New Testament Church Proliferation have adequately demonstrated that it is not always evil or unscriptural for a congregation to build a church building. So I just want to know this. I'm a builder; will you let me play on the equipment with you? Or should I go find another playground?

Michael

Jerusalem


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Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 10:47:09 -0400 From: "Samuel M. Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Bible college grads planting Home Church's

Amen Dan!

Right on the money. This nightmare of leadership/structure between "pastors" and "lay people" has plagued the church for centuries. In fact, it is no different than the caste system of India. We have created a caste system that should never have existed. It has robbed and and paralyzed the church of its vibrancy and the what it means to be a holy nation of priests!

Thanks Dan,

Sam

John,

This is exactly where I have been coming from for many years. It has been my experience that smaller group meetings especially in homes can become the natural environment for members to function and build up one another, but not always.

The road block that I see is not just the meeting place per se, but the clergy/laity system that is so deeply rooted in our N. American society. When we see ourselves as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, THE PEOPLE of God, then we welcome those equipping gifts without setting them high on a pedestal.

But even in countries like India and Africa the spectator mentality exists. The enemy has used this aspect of human nature to reduce the effectiveness of the church in many areas.

Teachings on the Body of Christ can help, but I sense that a strong prophetic word is needed to break the yoke that continues to hold many, both clergy and "laity."

It is my conviction that this is the hour for such a prophetic word to the Church of Jesus Christ world wide.

Dan Beaty Columbus, Ohio USA

http://www.livingtruth.com

 


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Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 08:40:11 +0200 From: "Deborah"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

Jay wrote: In the first instance, and in its narrow sense, this veil represents "the > law".?

Notice that word "represents". I keep seeing this type thing in the few posts you have contributed to the New Testament Church Proliferation list. When the Bible states A you often say it really means B. But Jay, I'm just simple enough to believe that when the Bible says A it really means A. So all this analogical/allegorical interpretation stuff in your messages just makes me sort of roll my eyes and click to the next post, hoping for something with a little more substance. If we're going to communicate together bro-- and I'd like that-- it has to be from the plain sense of the text. Once that is established, and only then, I might prove mystical enough to take a few laps around the moon with you. Kappish?

In this case, rending the vail from top to bottom means being set free from > faulty thinking rooted in our own heads.?

Without trying to get too personal Jay, but just wanting to help you see yourself as others (and I) might be perceiving you, perhaps it would be wise for you to pay attention to your own implied advice ... minus the allegorical path you meandered along to finally arrive there. I hope you'll see that I have spoken the truth in love.

Michael

Jerusalem

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #43

 




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