New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

August 21, 2001 Vol 01 : 056

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Organic Church -Part 2

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: The Organic Church

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches



Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 20:44:24 -0400 From: "Samuel M. Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Organic Church -Part 2

Don't mean to "rain on your parade", but what you have described embodies many of the elements within the house church movement, without the trappings of having an -organic cell church -.

I have been part of a cell based church, an IC, and an IC that has small groups. I was in leadership in all of them. Most of the "successful" cells, small groups, etc, were the ones that were - relationship based -. The "stuff of ministry" you describe below is in the house church we are in but all the "stuff" is subservient to our -relationship- to the Lord and with one another. It all boils down to - body life -.

There is way too much structure to this organic cell church stuff and way too much - dependency - on human leadership rather than the leading of the Holy Spirit. While we may echo the need for elders, Paul never appointed elders right away. In fact in 1 Timothy 5, he stresses to not appoint elders right away. In this sense then - body life - or - church life - preexisted without the type of -human leadership- that you are advocating for the organic cell church. The elders at Ephesus in Acts 19 -20 were there to solve problems, not run the church. The Holy Spirit leads the church. Men get in the way!

Am I saying there is no place for human leadership? No, just the opposite. If people want to serve as leaders, emphasis on - serve - , then they should learn to serve and not lead as leadership has come to be known in the church in the last couple of millennia. How many pastors do you know are willing to die for the sheep, or willing to sacrifice their positions or their agendas? I don't know too many. Our local ministerial is run like a parliament.

I also believe if -cells- or -small groups - have effective body life, then they are complete and integrated churches on their own, and don't need to be - -part of an organic church -. They already are the church, but most of them don't know it!

I have had more body life and real Christianity in the last few years than my entire life in the church put together (I am 43 and was born in a minister's home). I grew up a missionary's kid/pastor's kid, and I have seen it all. The body life I have found and cultured in the house church environment is the best I have ever known. Putting structure like that which is in a -organic cell- would only add clutter and create problems, not solve them. It's all about relationship, and everything else flows out of it, including ministry.

If you want a big church (whatever that means) that can have some form of body life, then organic cells will likely work. But if you want intimacy and relationship, and life and body ministry, the smaller church that meets in a house without the structured traditional power base of leaders dominating the life of the body, then small church in houses it where it's at.

House church can reproduce. We are planting three of them in the fall. All coming from one house church, and fundamentally, all the people becoming an expression of the body of Christ are in deep relationship with the Lord and one another. The church planting is based on the foundation of - -relationship-.


Church in the House - church planter Waterloo, Ontario Canada


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Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 7:00 +0100 From: castillofuerte

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: The Organic Church

Dear Sam,

I think perhaps that you think that what I describe as an organic church is different from what you call a home church or house church. Every cell in a cell church (as I am describing at least) IS a fully functioning church, perhaps it is better to understand the model that I have described as the organic church as a way of understanding the relationships between home churches, IC's and others, within a locality. I would think that we would all be of one accord tha t the church in any given locality is made up of all of the born again believers within that locality. Yet how do we express that in reality? I remember some years ago when I was serving a largish (35) home church in A suburb of London, England. In an attempt to reach out effectively to our locality I joined the ministers fraternal, so that evangelism and the like could be coordinated etc. I personally went out of my way to build a strong relationship with every member of the group and was later asked to lead it. Within the church I served we had strong relational church life, with two servant leaders. Within the ministers fraternal, we began to have deeper, relationships as we began to serve one another and not try to score points from one another. Two other local churches asked to enter into relationship with me and with permission from my church, I began to serve them too. Everything looked splendid, BUT.... it all suddenly began to fall apart. One pastor changed, then it was questioned if a home church leader (not me) should even be in the fraternal. One pastor said, "My home groups are bigger than his church". Bit by bit people withdrew into traditional positions, folk didn't even try to understand the home church position. In the end the fraternal became a talking shop again and the churches reverted to a, you in your small corner and I in mine. The only thing that survived from that time was my relationship with the three churches.

Two years later I was transferred to the south of England with my job, and found myself living on a large new estate, with no church at all. On our second Sunday there we had a meeting in our home with the five other Christians that we had met during the week. within three weeks quite a large group were meeting in my home, about forty in all. We then had a dilemma. We could continue meeting together and expanding using another building, or we could split into two smaller groups and meet together once a month for wider fellowship. This is what we did. The group continued to grow until after a year, it had six cells meeting at various times during the week and also on Sundays. We had fortnightly, and later weekly central meetings, and a dream like servant leadership of 8 (dream like, because I still find it hard to believe that God put 8 men like that in the same place at the same time). In all about 100+ people attended our various meetings. It was a glorious shambles, yet was wonderfully ordered by the Holy Spirit as we looked to Him for leadership. We were still the only church on the estate. It wasn't until then that I was contacted by an apostle from a church in the center of town and asked to join the fraternal. I did so and rather more slowly this time began building relationships with the other leaders in the town.

During the following two years we planted other cell churches in other parts of the town, with their own weekly celebrations, and the Anglicans and Methodists, planted on our estate. Folk from other churches began to attend our celebration meetings. At first this caused a little friction with other leaders who thought that we might be sheep stealing, but that soon stopped when they saw that we always sent them back. At that time we decided to hold a central mega celebration in the town center, once a month, in conjunction with the two churches led by the apostle mentioned above. These were to be open meetings for all Christians that cared to come. We started with 700 and over the course of a year this grew to 1500 as folk from other churches came along. We invited a number of the other local pastors to preach and minister. Over the course of about another year and a half, the pastors, home church leaders and other leaders who attended the monthly meetings grew to encompass 70+% of the leadership in the town. One by one these leaders stopped attending fraternal meetings as They had little meaning, where things were happening, was in the central meetings. After I moved to Spain and the other apostolic leader moved away, I know things quieted down somewhat. But I know that the majority of leader in that town still minister together. They aren't perfect, every now and then folk still get on a "power trip", but by and large IC's, home churches and other groups work together amicably. From what I have said, I think that you will see where I'm coming from. I agree with almost everything you say about leadership and home church, but when you talk about too much structure in the model that I propose, you really have missed what I'm saying, perhaps it's because you have only read a part of what I am sharing, there is more to come. I generally try to withhold judgment until I have heard a person out. I fact I try not to judge, I find that the Bible doesn't encourage it. Rather than trying to put a structure I am anti structure. I am pro God's order. I am also 100% pro Home church / cell church call it what you like, where the small group is a real expression of Church. BUT I am somewhat fed-up with some of my brethren in home churches, who have a superior, isolationist and individualistic relationship with regard to other home churches and leaders in their locality. The organic church teaching has as one of it's longer term visions, seeing real local churches develop, where all of the leaders in an area can meet together fully respecting one another, and every Christian in a locality can relate freely with every other Christian in that locality, whilst experiencing the love an intimacy of God in their church setting, be it the home church that we would see as the NT model or an IC.

I hope that has helped clear up some confusion

Sorry that my postings are a bit strange I think that it may be because I use a Spanish keyboard. I'm also having problems with my PC at the moment. I have typed all this on a Nokia Communicator, very frustrating....oh well.

Blessings, ybic Keith

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Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 09:35:44 +0200 From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier>

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

? In my Aug. 8 post I asked the question:

How might modern HC people define a house church?

On a different thread (House Church Problems), Sam Buick wrote:

I read it [a forwarded message about another congregation-- MICHAEL] and it > kind of bothered me that people would even consider this to be a "house > church" in the first place. When you read it, you see it is a pastor > driven, traditional church, with signage and all, that just meets in a ?

house. It is not remotely like a house church....

The description above is of a traditional church, not house church. We do

not advertise, we do not post a sign, and we do not regularly collect

offerings and we do not issue receipts because we refuse to register with

the government. The less the government knows the better. We have business cards and we have a web page, but no addresses are listed, only?

contact people....

I would never circulate anything. I would build relationship for the sake > of relationship and slowly introduce the unsaved to other saved people and > then invite them over and introduce house church as being relationship with > God and with one another expressed in body life. Marketing the church with

man's wisdom is simply inviting trouble, like others who would be opposed > to house church.

So let's glean from Sam's position some things which he thinks _disqualifies_ a Christian fellowship which meets in a home from being a bonified HC:


1) Those which are "pastor driven" (please define-- MICHAEL).

2) Those which are a "traditional church" (please define-- MICHAEL).

3) Those "with signage," ie., which "post a sign".

4) Those which "advertise," or which "circulate anything," ie., those which "[market] the church with man's wisdom" (please define-- MICHAEL).

5) Those which "regularly collect offerings".

6) Those which "issue receipts ".

7) Those which "register with the government".

Some questions to consider:

1) Which of the above "disqualifiers" is supported by an explicit commandment in Scripture? In other words, where in the Bible are any of the above expressly forbidden?

2) Which, if any, of the above "disqualifiers" in fact contradicts an explicit commandment in Scripture? What I mean is, are any of Sam's ideas about what should _not_ be done in a HC unscriptural? I think I see at least one.?

3) Does _everybody_ out there agree with the above list of practices which Sam claims disqualifies a HC? Explain.

4) Does anybody out there have another list of qualifiers/disqualifiers, or whatever, they would like to offer to help us define what truly is a modern HC.



P.S. What really bothered me about the email that Sam received was that there was a _woman_ pastor for that fellowship in the first place in light of especially 1 Tim. 2:12-14.

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Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 09:38:02 +0200 From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier> Subject: [none]

Link asked: If you were doing discipleship work with this people group, and dozens of > families did start to repent, would you (whoever is reading) teach them to > change their social structure to some degree? How far would you go? Would > you just teach the wife to submit to her husband, and teach that the father > is the head of the family rather than the wife or grandmother? What about > other matriarchal aspects of society- inheritance, marriage, etc. Would?

you leave that alone?

I, for one, would focus on biblical literacy. Then along the way people would discover what the _Scriptures_ say on these particular issues. I would leave it to the (women) elders to discuss and arrive at conclusions for themselves, only acting as a catalyst for discussion since I would be a "visitor" to their culture and people. I would not trust my perceptions as to what form things should take, but rather trust to the working of God's Holy Spirit to begin the transformation of their thinking. However, I have been around long enough to know that we Christians do not always recognise when we are shielding our own eyes against the light of God's word, particularly when it calls for something so radical as the restructuring of one's whole society. Neither would some (most?) of them recognise their self-induced blindness. So I would encourage those in prophetic ministry (and others) who might come to see through the compromise and rationalizations that would inevitably surface to maintain the status quo. And I would bury them when they were killed. As I hope they would bury me.

Do statistics that imply that families where the father repents first are

more likely to repent as a household, apply in matriarchal cultures?

I am no expert but I have had some missiological training. My educated guess would be that such a statistic would not apply to a matriarchal society. It would require the head of the house (the mother) to be saved in order for the rest of the family to be compelled to follow suit. Anybody with a little more knowledge or clout out there able to a say definitive yes or no?

But I am wondering where to focus evangelism here- to the

step-father-in-law or the mother-in-law.

With whom do you have the most rapport? Who is more inclined to open up with you? And allow you to be frank with him/her?



The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #56

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