New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


August 1, 2001 Vol 01 : 044
 
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression (fwd)

[New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

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

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

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

 

Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 01:43:02 -0400 From: forwarded

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

from "Samuel M. Buick" Sam wrote: I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the context of our

Christian expression.

The issue is RELATIONAL, and the FUNCTIONAL flows OUT OF that. The foundation of our "religion" is RELATIONSHIP.

Now, please consider this:

The Christian life is like being in a family: "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mat. 12:50).

"SNAP"

It is indeed family and it is RELATIONAL. The will of the Father is NOT something we can DO, it is something that FLOWS out of WHO we are as the SONS of God (RELATIONSHIP). It is Jesus Himself seeking to live out HIS LIFE in and through us. If we mortify the flesh, and allow Jesus to live out His life, then the SUPERNATURAL outcome, is DOING the will of the Father. FUNCTION always follows RELATIONSHIP. That is why CHARACTER means more to God than GIFTING. God is always looking at the heart, the intent and the purity of heart.

The Christian life is like serving in the army: "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim. 2:3, 4).

"SNAP"

Michael, being in Jerusalem, have you served in the military at all? The army is very much a FAMILY, and the most precious times I had with my mates in the infantry was around MEAL TIMES, where we were truly comrades. We were a tightly knit unit. Combat infantry demands a tightly knit outfit, and it is a FAMILY. In fact I would venture to say that until I was married and had my own family, the BEST FAMILY LIFE I ever experienced was with my fellow comrades in arms. When soldiers bond, they RELATE LIKE A FAMILY.

Michael when you list the verse above, you are being focussed "serving" rather than on "being" a soldier. Again it is all the DOING stuff you are focussing on. You are looking at the military hardships and roles and functions. But it NOT these activities in themselves that we should focus on. If soldiers are not in harmony, what many call MORALE, and if they do not work together as a TEAM (family), then no matter how good they are individually, they are useless as a military unit. In this very way the army is like FAMILY. How soldiers RELATE with one another affects how they function. Their effectiveness is derived from how well they RELATE and operate as a TEAM.

The focus of the verse above, is exactly about remembering who you are in Christ. If you know who you are and your RELATIONSHIP is growing and you are nurturing it, then you will be able to function without becoming entangled.

ALL of this flows out of our own SUBMISSION in RELATIONSHIP with the Lord and to one another.

The Christian life is like working on a farm: "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jam. 5:7, 8).

"SNAP"

I won't get into eschatology here. But having worked on farms in my summers off, I know that FAMILIES work together to prepare for the coming harvest. It is a lot of work, but because of their FAMILY vision, and the goal they have set as a FAMILY, and how well they RELATE and their working as a TEAM flows out of that relationship, which explains how and why they endure and persevere patiently each and every challenge, seeing the GOAL set before them.

The Christian life is like being a slave ... or is it? "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men" (1 Cor. 7:22, 23).

Using the analogy of slavery is only worthwhile if it is understood to simply mean, 1. we are not our own, 2. we have a master, 3. he knows what is good for us and what is required. For a slave to serve in a productive environment, he needs to be in a solid RELATIONSHIP with the master. He will know what is expected, and the master will also know what is required of him to enable the slave to function to his full potential and worth for the profit of the estate. RELATIONSHIP means everything to success. In the days of Rome, many slaves were treated in a familial fashion, which brought much loyalty and hard work out of them for their masters. One of the challenges to the early church was that slaves that got old and could not perform were given their freedom, which meant their former masters did not have to take care of them and were left to fend for themselves on the streets. This became one the greatest ministries across the Roman empire.

My point? For Sam to take one metaphor (family) for Christian expression and unwittingly make it definitive for the whole of our experience is reductionist since there are many "SNAP"shots of the Christian life found throughout the NT.

RELATIONSHIP and the "FAMILY METAPHOR" is the ONLY TANGIBLE and REAL thing we have to offer mankind that is a picture and reflection of the character of God at work in our lives. I would suggest that all else is EMPTY MAN MADE RELIGION, and there is more than enough of those apart from biblical Christianity. If we don't have a dynamic relationship with God and He with us, then we really have nothing! Pack up the furniture, close the buildings and sell off the property, and give it to the poor, empty the seminaries, and Bible colleges, because if RELATIONSHIP is not the foundation and the the SUBSTANCE of our FAMILY LIFE WITH GOD, then we really have nothing at all.

The Church is after all a complex organism. Such a reductionist >concept ultimately leads to problems with the outward expressions of >our faith to the point that we may, for example, want a "non->religious" Lord's table.

MAN and NOT God has turned the church into a "COMPLEX ORGANISM". This is always the case with religious people. This is always the case of adding to what the Lord said is FINISHED. The problem is when the church through the wisdom of men has taken the most simple and Spirit filled BODY LIFE EXPRESSIONS and REALITIES and has turned them into something Jesus NEVER intended the church to be. Why is it that the SPIRIT OF RELIGION always comes in and compels men to organize, restructure, add programs, and gets everyone caught up with DOING, DOING, DOING, DOING until everyone drops over dead! Why is that? Why? All we were ever called to by the Lord was to BE, BE, BE, BE, His friends, not servants. Jesus calls us FRIENDS - RELATIONSHIP, RELATIONSHIP, RELATIONSHIP, RELATIONSHIP - BODY LIFE, BODY LIFE, BODY LIFE, BODY LIFE. The most beautiful relationship is that relationship between Jesus and a believer, and between believers and their Lord. Yet, when man has "added" on everything that other men think is important, we are left with a shell, an empty relational shell, devoid of life and the dynamic presence of God. All because everyone is busy fulfilling what someone else said needs to be fulfilled.

I presume that means without hype or ceremony-- like a normal north American family meal. Sam's position that "[a]ll expressions of >family relate around the table (meal times)" is problematic enough. >At least it doesn't work that way at my house.

The Lord's Table is a meal. A love feast. Why the love feast was done away with I can only guess. I believe it that it was easier to be rid of it, rather that to embrace it, for it runs counter to programming and religion. The love feast brings with it community and relationship which tends to complicate things for religious spirits, and men who want to control other men. So men take something so ordinary and sweet and beautiful and turn it into something so religious that it no longer resembles a common love feast? My house does do it this way, every time we gather, and I would NEVER EVER change it.

Yesterday our house church had a picnic in the park. It was all very spontaneous (my wife called everyone on the phone to let them know). It was all very full of life. Interaction and playing all over the place. Kids and grown ups playing games, water balloons, the wading pool, and people building relationship. The Lord's presence was very strong. People were talking and discussion their relationship with the Lord, and were encouraging and building one another up. They were relating as family and friends. It was one of the most HOLY moments I have ever had. We partook of our meal, just like a love feast, and we rejoiced in the cross and who we are RELATIONALLY in Christ. It was most precious. No mess, no fuss, no hype. And most wonderful of all...there was NO spirit of RELIGION!

Nothing problematic here. We had 6 glorious hours together and the time flew by! It was great BEING THE CHURCH without "being churchy or in a church building!" Where two or three are gathered, Jesus is in the midst, and relationally, that is "church"!

But then to suggest we may want to substitute a meal, diluted or expunged of its liturgical elements (a meal which, as you know, had its very origin in the Passover Seder: a _highly_ "religious" [ceremonial?] acted-parable involving all the senses) for the real thing is to run the risk of distorting the ritual's true meaning. I like that word "ritual," don't you?

Yes, WE DO substitute a meal, and it is NOT DILUTED in any way of Christ or the cross. It is not "expunged" of it's meaning. But, I emphatically declare before ALL MEN, that we reject the RELIGIOUS hijacking of the Lord's table, and we will not ever return to what robs it of its simplicity and beauty.

BTW, I don't like the word "ritual". It smacks of something man has defiled and devised thereby making the whole table dead and meaningless. No, the Lord's table is no ritual, it is a full life giving meal between the FAMILY OF GOD, and the INDWELLING SPIRIT, who brings so much more meaning to the cross and its effect for us. I will pass on the "ritual", and I will pass on the "holy snack" (wafer/wine), whether a Passover seder or traditional Protestant understanding of communion for the REAL MEAL DEAL with the LIVING INDWELLING CHRIST and ALL THE FAMILY OF GOD at the table celebrating the VICTORY we have IN CHRIST.

It is about gathering as a family around a table and eating, true enough. But it is more than that. The Lord's table is a covenant renewal ceremony which binds us afresh to our Lord (his death, burial, resurrection, and parousia) and to each other as mutually forgiven members of his Body. Family. Army. Farm. Slave Quarters ...

It isn't more than that. That is it. Jesus wants INTIMACY, FAMILY, RELATIONSHIP, ADORATION, LOVE, all the things that are found when family gathers together, and the meal is simply the time of day where we can come together, and find a place to rest and enjoy one another apart from the hectic activities of the day. It is a time where we again thank the Lord for the His life and ministry and the cross, WITHOUT GETTING ALL LITURGICAL AND RELIGIOUS about it, and simply enjoy the bread and cup as part of our meal TOGETHER AS FAMILY. There is no need to take the simple, beautiful meal and fill it so full of religious jargon and liturgy. It is more than enough WITHOUT all the religious talk and understanding of man!

I think what Sam is attempting to steer us toward is regularity ("at least weekly") and intimacy, "where everyone ... participates in the meal and expresses the fullness that Jesus came to bring". He wisely desires that we not content ourselves with merely running through the motions of some half-understood ceremony, neither touching the Lord nor each other. And I am all for that thrust.

No I am not attempting anything. I am simply stating what I see and understand and what we do as a body. I won't change it either. What I have experienced has LIFE and MEANING and VALUE. I love Jesus more than I ever have before. If I followed what I was previously taught, the wisdom of men, I would NEVER evangelize anyone. The evangelicalism that I was reared in was and is devoid of LIFE. It is full of RITUAL and ORDER, and SYSTEMS, human systems. IT is the spirit of religion and it robs people of the very thing Jesus came to give, ABUNDANT LIFE. I will NEVER lay my life down for man's religion, NEVER!

But to reduce the Eucharist to a "low key interactive meal celebration" is to rip the rite from its biblical context in favor of American culture's general aversion to pomp and majesty. That would

I am NOT an American. No offense to my southern cousins, but I am a BRIT who lives in CANADA. Do not include me in your understanding of American culture.

I have not ripped anything from it's biblical context. In fact I would argue that evangelicalism has ADDED to what the Bible clearly states, and has turned something that was meant to be a celebration and turned it into A MAN MADE LIFELESS RELIGIOUS RITUAL.

not only be a shame aesthetically, but more importantly our co-participation in the covenantal aspects of our faith would be compromised since the Bible reveals that rites are truly a part of the whole package.

What I consider to be SHAMEFUL, is the hijacking of the Lord's table by RELIGIOUS MEN who are bent on turning it into what it was never intended to be, A RELIGIOUS RITUAL! It was, and it is a MEAL! It is a MEAL FILLED WITH MEANING and VALUE, which has no need to be turned into a religious rite. MEN have have habitually taken the most spiritual things and have throughout the ages turned everything into RELIGION! And worst of all RELIGION that is LIFELESS.

We can and must secure the intimacy of true "body life" while preserving the ceremonial aspects through Christian expressions that are both personally salient and biblical.

--MICHAEL

Jerusalem

You will never have RELIGION AND INTIMACY together. RELIGION chokes out INTIMACY, and STIFLES LIFE. CEREMONY means very little without LIFE. You may have Bible content, and you may use all the right words and phrases, but you will NEVER have INTIMACY in this kind of MAN MADE RELIGION.

I no longer wonder why there over 8,000 born again believers who have left the "organized church and organized religion" in my city of 300,000 people. Given the choice between lifeless religion and its bondage and rules, I would be at the head of the line myself! The Apostle Paul said, "It was for freedom He set us free." I intend to remain free and proclaim and the gospel of grace and freedom to all who are thirsty and hungry. And I will lead them toward INTIMACY and FAMILY and RELATIONSHIP with the Lord and one another, and I will purposely take them as far away as possible from religion.

Sam

From: "Samuel M. Buick"

 


------- <><><> -------

 

Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 01:43:20 -0400 From: forwarded Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

Some of the topics that would be of interest and use to me would be:

1. The experiences of those who have put together and/or served on a church planting team. How the team is configured, recruited, some of the challenges and benefits.

2. Urban & rural church planting experiences on a worldwide scale.

3. Given that a local fellowship of believers needs to reflect the culture of the people and also be easy to reproduce itself, what are some different models that have been used with success?

4. I have just read an interesting article in the latest EMQ which discusses different roles of church planters: pastoral, apostolic, catalytic. It would be great to interact with some who have also read the article.

John

John S. Cosby Missionary development Dir. UIM International jcosby*uim.org www.uim.org/cosby

jcosby*uim.org


------- <><><> -------

Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 01:19:00 -0700 (PDT) From: Link H Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

I think some of the other posters with church planting experience, both in the US and abroad might be able to answer some of your other questions.

I know here in this South East Asian, predominantly 'Cousin' country, some people who have set up church planting schools use a type of mentoring system.

They take existing preachers or Bible school graduates, give them basic training in how to reach people with the religious and cultural beliefs of the target religious group, in some cases teach them a little about house churching in hostile environments, and then send them out.

A new student who finishes a week or so of training goes out to work with someone already out in the field. Now, most of these 'mentors' are still young ministers who have recently finished the training- not the ideal situation, but it's what's available. Not many people are working with UPG's.

One man working with a UPG says tells of a few dozen house church's made up of a couple of families. This UPG is not very receptive to the Gospel. He does know of one house church that is really taking off, with several families meeting. The house church is lay-led, with the saints doing the ministry.

They are very careful to try to preserve the culture of the people group they are working with. I was a little surprised (after reading Galatians) that the Christians won through their ministry still circumcised the boys. I thought of that as a 'cousin' practice, but my m friend said it was a pre-Salamic cultural practice. They also showed some clips ina slide show of their baptism of pouring water over someone's head as a cultural purification ritual that they did _before_ baptism by immersion.

I don't know how they do weddings. It would be interesting to see. This people group probably has a cultural wedding ceremony with an additional ceremony in their own religion.

4. I have just read an interesting article in the latest EMQ which discusses different roles of church planters: pastoral, apostolic, catalytic. It would be great to interact with some who have also read the article.

What does EMQ stand for, and is it available on the web? Is it a missionary magazine? I didn't read the article. I hope you don't mind if I comment.

I can see 3 types of church planters in the Bible: scattered saints church planters , evangelist church planters, and apostolic Church Planting.

1. Scattered saints church planters: We can see in Acts that elders were not necessary for there to be a real 'church.' In fact, elders grew up from within a church. When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, saints were scattered throughout Judea, Samara, and some went as far as Antioch. Churches, included the Antioch church, were started through scattered saints.

The Chinese movement that Watchman nee was a part of saw this pattern for church planting, and intentionally sent Christian families ahead to areas where they wanted to plant churches, to start little churches.

2. Evangelist church planting: Philip went down to Samara, preached Christ. People were baptized. He called the apostles- the leaders of the Jerusalem church to come help out, and he left, preaching the Gospel.

3. Apostolic church planting: Paul and Barnabas went through a region, preaching in different cities. They stuck around and did more discipleship work than Philip probably did, but still left rather quickly. They returned later to appoint elders in the churches they planted.

What does the article say about 'pastor church planting.' That seems to be one of the most common methods of church planting. Even here in an area that is a 'm'ssn field' this is a very common method. A Bible college graduate or other preacher goes out, shares the gospel with unbelievers or straying sheep. A new church is formed. the one who shares the Gospel becomes the clergyman of the church that forms around him.

Actually, I don't see this example in the Bible, exactly. I suppose it's possible that some of the scattered saints were elders of the church in Jerusalem, and labored to start churches in the areas they were scattered, becoming elders in those churches as well. One could make such an _assumption_ but we don't really have any Biblical evidence for it.

This pastor church planting model is so common, that those who follow an apostolic method, leaving new churches behind to go start new ones, might take some flack for not sticking around and serving as pastors in the churches they founded.

Catalyst Church Planting. I don't know exactly what the article means, but it sure does seem like there are some people here who are a catalyst for Church Planting. This seems to be a notch where expat m's can work when dealing with UPG's in sensitive areas. If they show up in house church meetings, they can bring a lot of attention and persecution by 'cousin' neighbors.

But some expats have started small church planting schools and serve as coaches to local church planters. Some just set up a program, teaching classes and teaming up local coaches with local mentors. Of course, there are plenty of locals working as catalysts and motivators behind the scenes, but it seems like expats are more inclined to be doing this work in the arena of planting house church's among hard-to-reach cousin UPG's.


------- <><><> -------

Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 01:20:34 -0700 (PDT) From: Link H

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

I think some of the other posters with church planting experience, both in the US and abroad might be able to answer some of your other questions.

I know here in this South East Asian, predominantly 'Cousin' country, some people who have set up church planting schools use a type of mentoring system.

They take existing preachers or Bible school graduates, give them basic training in how to reach people with the religious and cultural beliefs of the target religious group, in some cases teach them a little about house churching in hostile environments, and then send them out.

A new student who finishes a week or so of training goes out to work with someone already out in the field. Now, most of these 'mentors' are still young ministers who have recently finished the training- not the ideal situation, but it's what's available. Not many people are working with UPG's.

One man working with a UPG says tells of a few dozen house church's made up of a couple of families. This UPG is not very receptive to the Gospel. He does know of one house church that is really taking off, with several families meeting. The house church is lay-led, with the saints doing the ministry.

They are very careful to try to preserve the culture of the people group they are working with. I was a little surprised (after reading Galatians) that the Christians won through their ministry still circumcised the boys. I thought of that as a 'cousin' practice, but my m friend said it was a pre-Salamic cultural practice. They also showed some clips ina slide show of their baptism of pouring water over someone's head as a cultural purification ritual that they did _before_ baptism by immersion.

I don't know how they do weddings. It would be interesting to see. This people group probably has a cultural wedding ceremony with an additional ceremony in their own religion.

4. I have just read an interesting article in the latest EMQ which discusses different roles of church planters: pastoral, apostolic, catalytic. It would be great to interact with some who have also read the article.

What does EMQ stand for, and is it available on the web? Is it a missionary magazine? I didn't read the article. I hope you don't mind if I comment.

I can see 3 types of church planters in the Bible: scattered saints church planters , evangelist church planters, and apostolic Church Planting.

1. Scattered saints church planters: We can see in Acts that elders were not necessary for there to be a real 'church.' In fact, elders grew up from within a church. When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, saints were scattered throughout Judea, Samara, and some went as far as Antioch. Churches, included the Antioch church, were started through scattered saints.

The Chinese movement that Watchman nee was a part of saw this pattern for church planting, and intentionally sent Christian families ahead to areas where they wanted to plant churches, to start little churches.

2. Evangelist church planting: Philip went down to Samara, preached Christ. People were baptized. He called the apostles- the leaders of the Jerusalem church to come help out, and he left, preaching the Gospel.

3. Apostolic church planting: Paul and Barnabas went through a region, preaching in different cities. They stuck around and did more discipleship work than Philip probably did, but still left rather quickly. They returned later to appoint elders in the churches they planted.

What does the article say about 'pastor church planting.' That seems to be one of the most common methods of church planting. Even here in an area that is a 'm'ssn field' this is a very common method. A Bible college graduate or other preacher goes out, shares the gospel with unbelievers or straying sheep. A new church is formed. the one who shares the Gospel becomes the clergyman of the church that forms around him.

Actually, I don't see this example in the Bible, exactly. I suppose it's possible that some of the scattered saints were elders of the church in Jerusalem, and labored to start churches in the areas they were scattered, becoming elders in those churches as well. One could make such an _assumption_ but we don't really have any Biblical evidence for it.

This pastor church planting model is so common, that those who follow an apostolic method, leaving new churches behind to go start new ones, might take some flack for not sticking around and serving as pastors in the churches they founded.

I'm not saying the practice of one man going out and starting a church and eventually being _one of_ the elders is a bad thing. I just don't see a clear example of it in the scriptures. Praise God that new churches are started, and more people are following Christ!

Catalyst Church Planting. I don't know exactly what the article means, but it sure does seem like there are some people here who are a catalyst for Church Planting. This seems to be a notch where expat m's can work when dealing with UPG's in sensitive areas. If they show up in house church meetings, they can bring a lot of attention and persecution by 'cousin' neighbors.

But some expats have started small church planting schools and serve as coaches to local church planters. Some just set up a program, teaching classes and teaming up local coaches with local mentors. Of course, there are plenty of locals working as catalysts and motivators behind the scenes, but it seems like expats are more inclined to be doing this work in the arena of planting house church's among hard-to-reach cousin UPG's.

 


------- <><><> -------

 

Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 02:26:18 -0700 (PDT) From: Link H Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression (fwd)

Sam,

I agree with you that 'family' is an important concept. In the NT, 'family' is a dominant metaphor spiritual reality. We are to pray to our Father in heaven. All Fatherhood comes from God. In the story of the creation of man and woman, 'two shall be one flesh' there is a mystery of Christ and the church. Marriage shows us something about this relationship between Christ in the church.

In the NT, saints are called 'brethren.' We are to be like a family. I agree that it is an important metaphor.

But in your recent letter to Mike Millier, it seems that your message had some underlying assumptions. One underlying assumption seems to be that because the church is like a family, the Lord's Supper must be held in an informal, family atmosphere. Another assumption I seemed to detect was the idea that formality and 'religion' entails lifeless spirituality, and is not consistent with the spiritual context of family.

I've had many conversations with brother Millier, and I know a little about how he approaches subjects theologically. I don't think he would disagree with you that family is an important metaphor. I also know that he tries to study and understand the Jewish world at the time of the writing of the New Testament. Jesus said 'salvation is of the Jews.' Paul and the 12 apostles were Jewish. Mike is also laboring in an area where understanding the way Jews did and do things is very necessary to be 'contextual.'

Mike made a good point about the Passover. It was a liturgical, planned meal. The OT actually gives some instructions about how to have the meal, including words for the youngest child to repeat. In Jesus' day, this liturgy may have been a bit more elaborate (I haven't studied it in depth, but I have heard the theory that later Jews got the modern seder by adapting the Nazarene seder, since the Nazarenes kept on celebrating it after the destruction of the temple. The modern seder is planned.)

If the Jewish seder was well-planned, it is possible that the seder Jesus held was also planned. It is also possible that the early churches Paul planted remembered the words of Christ about his body and blood in an organized, planned manner.

The synagogue in Jesus' day was highly liturgical. I read in the NT that Jesus spoke in synagogues. I haven't found anywhere in the NT where it says that Jesus condemned synagogues for being too 'religious' or organized, or liturgical. The temple was liturgical after all, and some aspects of the liturgy are found right in your Bible in the Psalms. The Bible doesn't condemn being organized or even liturgical any place where I can see.

I don't see anywhere where the NT says that the atmosphere of the Lord's Supper must be highly formal, or that Gentiles had to follow Jewish liturgy. I Corinthians 14 tells us some things about how Christians were to meet, and indicates that these rules applied to other churches as well. I believe the Jewish Christians followed these rules for operating in the gift of prophecy as well. But nothing in the scriptures forbids reading the scriptures in an organized, or even formal manner.

If a church has a lot of formality and no body life, relationship, discipleship, etc. etc., then of course that is a bad thing. But I don't see anything in the Bible that forbids formality. If formality was so bad, then why doesn't the Bible warn us about it. If it was the sin of the Pharisees, then why doesn't Jesus warn us not to be formal? Instead, we see Jesus and Paul participating in formality. Early Jewish Christians even participated in temple worship. If early Christian kohen could cut up animal sacrifices, and be justified by Christ, is it a sin for Christians to have the Lord's Supper in a formal way?

The Jewish culture of Jesus' day had formal synagogue meetings. They had Passover meals which had some degree of planning to them that God had actually ordained, and they probably had other elements of planning and formality in these meals that were not specifically ordained by God. I suspect there was probably some time for chatting during the long Passover meal, considering the fact that there was conversation among the disciples during the Last Supper.

Some cultures are more formal than others. It might not be wise to introduce a very formal European liturgy to a laid-back people group. But if a people-group is already comfortable with doing everything in a very formal manner, then is it appropriate to insist that they do the Lord's Supper in a laid-back, southern California style? (I realize you are not from there, btw,.)

So men take something so ordinary and sweet and beautiful and turn it into something so religious that it no longer resembles a common love feast?

Another extreme is people chatting around a meal and not remembering the Lord when they eat the feast.

Why do you think that a feast that is held in a 'formal' manner no longer resembles a common love feast? If God hasn't revealed that the Lord's Supper must be held in an informal manner, then who are you to forbid it? Some brethren would like to read predetermined scripture verses, etc during the feast. What's wrong with a feast that allows time for some reading of predetermined scriptures (a liturgical practice, even if it's low-key liturgy) and also for fellowship? I don't see why this is an issue we need to be divisive over. I don't see any reason to accuse the more 'formal' brothers of not having relationship or life. There are different cultures and 'formality' is more highly valued in some cultures than others.

I can see how some who were raised in churches where formality was valued more highly than body life and discipleship would overreact to anything formal. But I don't see anything in the scriptures that forbids formality.

You will never have RELIGION AND INTIMACY together. RELIGION chokes >out INTIMACY, and STIFLES LIFE. Why is it that the SPIRIT OF RELIGION always comes in and compels men to organize, restructure, add programs, and gets everyone caught up with DOING, DOING, DOING, DOING until everyone drops over dead! Why is that? Why? All we were ever called to by the Lord was to BE, BE, BE, BE, His friends, not servants.

We are to be the Lord's friends, but we are also to be His servants. Paul was a bondslave of Christ. We must have a good relationship with the Lord, but that doesn't make 'doing' wrong. Paul was a doer. He outlabored the other apostles, but yet it was not him, but the grace that labored with him. Paul was a doer, and his writings show us that doing is important. Doing without being is bad. But is being without doing a good thing?

Btw, you mention the 'spirit of religion.' What is that exactly? Do you mean 'spirit' in a loose sense, or do you think there is actually a demonic entity with 'religion' written on it's forehead?

I wonder sometimes at Charismatics who say spirit of this, spirit of that. Someone once tried to rebuke the spirit of intellectualism off of me. I wondered to myself if this guy thought there was some spirit with 'intellectualism' on it's forehead, sitting around for thousands of years waiting for ancient Greek philosophy to develop to a point where he could go to work. I didn't say that aloud of course. If I had, he may really have been convinced that I had a spirit of religion.

Spirit of pain. Spirit of religion. People mean different things by these phrases. Some thing of a spiritual condition. Others think of actual demonic entities. Some 'spirit of' talk seems to me like a form of 'abstract animism.' Animists believe that trees, rocks, mountains, rivers, etc. have spirits. Some Charismatics come up with more type of spirit names: spirit of intellectualism, spirit of addiction. It's like they assume there is a type of spirit for every abstract concept in the universe.

Some people's preference for church, frankly, to my taste, seems a little stuffy. But there are some people who sing those old 'stuffy' hymns, and enjoy fellowship with God. Should we despise our brethren over matters of style? If Meat eaters were to accept vegetarians and day-honorers in Rome, then should we be quick to label our brethren as devoid of intimacy merely over a matter of church style? If formality and religion were so bad, then why did God put so much of them in the OT?

Link Hudson


------- <><><> -------

Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2001 09:05:59 -0700 From: jferris

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

"Samuel M. Buick" wrote:

---------- From: "Deborah" Reply-To: New Testament Church Proliferation Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 17:21:42 +0200 To: 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

Dear Michael,

If I pulled any hairs, please forgive me. I hope we can rest in the knowledge that, in your case, they are all numbered.

I think "adequate demonstration", like beauty may be in the eye of the beholder.

As for "equipment", I really don't seem to have any. If I did, I would have something to lose, and so would not be able to be as candid as I try to be with the builders. I try to be a little more gentle with smoldering wicks and bruised reeds.

And "playgrounds": Your address suggests to me that you are already playing on the best there is.

Jay


------- <><><> -------

 

Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 09:44:40 -0600 From: "John Cosby"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

Sorry for the abbreviation: EMQ stands for Evangelical Missions Quarterly. The article referenced appeared in the July, 2001 issue, "Matching the Church Planter's Role with the Church Planting Model" by Craig Ott. Pastoral church planter: "The goal of the pastoral church planter is quite simply to begin anew church and pastor it until it can call and pay its own pastor. The missionary can then move on and plant another church." Apostolic Church Planter: "This church planter models himself after the Apostle Paul - thus apostolic - who rarely allowed himself to become pastor of a church he planted. Instead he focused on empowering the local believers tominister, who would as laymen carry on and expand the work after his departure." Catalytic church planter: "The catalytic church planter is a church planter who plants a church, and remains as pastor or resource person in that church to become a catalyst or facilitator for church multiplication. John Greeley, CO John S. Cosby Missionary development Dir. UIM International jcosby*uim.org www.uim.org/cosby

- ----- Original Message ----- From: "Link H" To: Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2001 2:20 AM Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)

I think some of the other posters with church planting experience, both in the US and abroad might be able to answer some of your other questions.

I know here in this South East Asian, predominantly 'Cousin' country, some people who have set up church planting schools use a type of mentoring system.

They take existing preachers or Bible school graduates, give them basic training in how to reach people with the religious and cultural beliefs of the target religious group, in some cases teach them a little about house churching in hostile environments, and then send them out.

A new student who finishes a week or so of training goes out to work with someone already out in the field. Now, most of these 'mentors' are still young ministers who have recently finished the training- not the ideal situation, but it's what's available. Not many people are working with UPG's.

One man working with a UPG says tells of a few dozen house church's made up of a couple of families. This UPG is not very receptive to the Gospel. He does know of one house church that is really taking off, with several families meeting. The house church is lay-led, with the saints doing the ministry.

They are very careful to try to preserve the culture of the people group they are working with. I was a little surprised (after reading Galatians) that the Christians won through their ministry still circumcised the boys. I thought of that as a 'cousin' practice, but my m friend said it was a pre-Salamic cultural practice. They also showed some clips ina slide show of their baptism of pouring water over someone's head as a cultural purification ritual that they did _before_ baptism by immersion.

I don't know how they do weddings. It would be interesting to see. This people group probably has a cultural wedding ceremony with an additional ceremony in their own religion.

4. I have just read an interesting article in the latest EMQ which discusses different roles of church planters: pastoral, apostolic, catalytic. It would be great to interact with some who have also read the article.

What does EMQ stand for, and is it available on the web? Is it a missionary magazine? I didn't read the article. I hope you don't mind if I comment.

I can see 3 types of church planters in the Bible: scattered saints church planters , evangelist church planters, and apostolic Church Planting.

1. Scattered saints church planters: We can see in Acts that elders were not necessary for there to be a real 'church.' In fact, elders grew up from within a church. When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, saints were scattered throughout Judea, Samara, and some went as far as Antioch. Churches, included the Antioch church, were started through scattered saints.

The Chinese movement that Watchman nee was a part of saw this pattern for church planting, and intentionally sent Christian families ahead to areas where they wanted to plant churches, to start little churches.

2. Evangelist church planting: Philip went down to Samara, preached Christ. People were baptized. He called the apostles- the leaders of the Jerusalem church to come help out, and he left, preaching the Gospel.

3. Apostolic church planting: Paul and Barnabas went through a region, preaching in different cities. They stuck around and did more discipleship work than Philip probably did, but still left rather quickly. They returned later to appoint elders in the churches they planted.

What does the article say about 'pastor church planting.' That seems to be one of the most common methods of church planting. Even here in an area that is a 'm'ssn field' this is a very common method. A Bible college graduate or other preacher goes out, shares the gospel with unbelievers or straying sheep. A new church is formed. the one who shares the Gospel becomes the clergyman of the church that forms around him.

Actually, I don't see this example in the Bible, exactly. I suppose it's possible that some of the scattered saints were elders of the church in Jerusalem, and labored to start churches in the areas they were scattered, becoming elders in those churches as well. One could make such an _assumption_ but we don't really have any Biblical evidence for it.

This pastor church planting model is so common, that those who follow an apostolic method, leaving new churches behind to go start new ones, might take some flack for not sticking around and serving as pastors in the churches they founded.

I'm not saying the practice of one man going out and starting a church and eventually being _one of_ the elders is a bad thing. I just don't see a clear example of it in the scriptures. Praise God that new churches are started, and more people are following Christ!

Catalyst Church Planting. I don't know exactly what the article means, but it sure does seem like there are some people here who are a catalyst for Church Planting. This seems to be a notch where expat m's can work when dealing with UPG's in sensitive areas. If they show up in house church meetings, they can bring a lot of attention and persecution by 'cousin' neighbors.

But some expats have started small church planting schools and serve as coaches to local church planters. Some just set up a program, teaching classes and teaming up local coaches with local mentors. Of course, there are plenty of locals working as catalysts and motivators behind the scenes, but it seems like expats are more inclined to be doing this work in the arena of planting house church's among hard-to-reach cousin UPG's.

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #44

 


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